Magazine article The Spectator

The Star Inn, Harome

Magazine article The Spectator

The Star Inn, Harome

Article excerpt

THE STAR at Harome (pronounced 'Harum') used to be one of Yorkshire's legendary drinking parlours, celebrated for being, at the same time, both an unspoilt village pub and a place of curious revelry. My father and my uncles used to drink there in the late 1940s. The elderly J.B. Priestley would sup ale in a corner on occasional visits, his scowl defying strangers to engage him in conversation. The last landlord but one, Peter Gascoigne-Mullet, an ex-monk and part-time organist, played loud classical tapes and served scorching Bloody Marys; I recall a family lunch about ten years ago at which the drink and the music took an unexpected hold, reducing us all to high states of emotion.

But Peter moved on (sadly, to accompany the choirs invisible) and a rather racy crew from York took over. There was still some eccentricity, but the place went to seed and finally closed down. In June this year, it re-opened under the ownership of Andrew and Jacquie Pern, who look set to make it famous again, not for loucheness but for thoroughly good eating.

Harome is a quiet, elongated village in the flatlands below the North York Moors, reached by winding lanes from the A170 between Helmsley and Kirkbymoorside. Its chief adornment is its cricket team, which once reached the national village championship final at Lords. The low-thatched Star, where the cricketers drink, has been an inn since mediaeval times and (for those who like to know this sort of thing before they eat) is a prime example of a 14th-century cruck-framed longhouse, the diningroom occupying what was originally a byre. The crucks, bent timbers rising from ground level to form a rounded capital A, are visible in the loft above the bar, where after-dinner coffee was served by the former regime.

The Perns have replaced hectic floral wallpaper in the dining-room with an elegant yellow, but the late landlord's organ is still in its place and they have wisely left the bar as it was, with misshapen furniture from the Mouseman of Kilburn and boxes of dominoes kept in the stove. What is new is the menu, which can be eaten in the bar or the dining-room according to choice or space. I took two dog-walking friends to test it, and we thought it as good as (perhaps better than) anything to be found in the district. …

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