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Andrew Pern’s The Star Inn the Harbour – a delicious fish supper

Whilst staying in Staithes on a week’s holiday, we decided to go for tea at The Star Inn the Harbour in Whitby.

It is owned by Michelin starred chef Andrew Pern who is probably most famous for running one of Yorkshire’s five Michelin starred restaurants – The Star Inn at Harome. Andrew originates from the area and started his training nearby at Scarborough Catering College, so had always wanted to open a restaurant in his hometown but with a very different menu to his Star Inn at Harome. His mission was to create a menu which celebrated ingredients from the locality, particularly the wonderful fresh seafood landed each day in the harbour.

I had eaten here before a few times with clients and last year bought a Familiarisation Trip of US Tour operators here as part a tour promoting the delights of the North York Moors and Coast to the International travel trade. They were suitably impressed, but my wife always wanted to come here and so being just 11 miles up the road in Staithes with my kids was the perfect opportunity for a “posh tea”.

We were pre booked and found it easy to park in the station car park across the road. On entering the restaurant we were greeted professionally and shown to our table walking past a great Emma Stothard sculpture of a lobster (I’m a big fan of her wire sculptures).

Drinks were ordered with attentive staff and its always a good sign when looking at the menu that you would love to eat anything on it!

For starters wife and I hit the specials menu and shared a Pan-seared King Scallops with green pea and lovage puree, Macsween haggis beignets, salted hazelnut crumb and pea shoots as well as a Salt ‘n’ Pepper Squid with lemon and herb mayonnaise and sweet chilli sauce.

Both were ridiculously tasty. The sweet puree complementing the scallops which had been cooked perfectly. I love salt and pepper squid and this didn’t let me down, crispy, tasty and with the right amount of spice. As you can see from the photograph – not a lot was left and it was demolished before I remembered to take a picture!

For main courses my son had a burger which he said was excellent. His girlfriend and my daughter went for the Cod and Chips. I’ve had this many a time and it is special. Many of the chip shops in Whitby fry their fish and chips in beef dripping. This gets up to a much higher temperature than vegetable oil and so seals the fish in the batter and steams it so when you cut into it, it literally falls apart. Both Holly and Annabelle were suitably impressed.

I’ve taken coeliacs and vegetarians to the Star Inn the Harbour and both have been easily accommodated with fish and chips cooked in vegetable oil or gluten free batter.

My wife ordered for her main course the Shallow-fried Smoked Salmon Fishcakes, these came in a sauce with French style peas and smoked bacon along with a poached hen’s egg. She really enjoyed it but with two large fishcakes she only managed one which meant that I did get to the sample the other. It was lovely and I have always hated things going to waste!

I went for the specials menu again for my main course and boy, what a good decision…

I ordered North Sea Fillet of Seabass, this came sat on a ragout of tomato, roast garlic and chilli with a rich lobster bisque, fennel crisps and soft herbs. This was topped off with “dressed” Whitby crab.

It was fabulous, the seabass cooked to perfection. As the Master Chef judges always tell contestants cooking sea bass to make the skin crispy and it was. But the bisque and crab worked so well - it really was special.

Whilst we were all full, the fact that we had seen a Rhubarb Eton Mess meant that 5 of the same desserts were ordered and wolfed down.

It was a lovely family meal, a great experience for the kids and it’s definitely not stuffy which I think they had been worried about. Service was great and the décor was interesting with the tentacled toilet door handles and novel signs. Being able to see the replica of the Bark Endevour on which Captain Cook (a former Whitby resident) had sailed to Australia moored next to the restaurant through the window really meant that you knew that you were “in the harbour”.

It’s a bit more expensive than the nearby popular Trenchers or Hadleigh’s but for a treat and for something a bit more special than standard fish and chips – I would say it’s definitely worth it.

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