The Star Inn the City – York

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November 3, 2013 by talkaboutyork

I have been waiting impatiently for this restaurant to open, mainly because of its location. Situated right next to the River Ouse by Lendal Bridge and on the edge of Museum Gardens, you couldn’t get a better spot. The building is the old Engine Room and is has been converted beautifully with plenty of glass combining new with old.

So I had pretty high expectations when I went there for dinner with friends last night. This morning I find myself with both a hangover and mixed thoughts about The Star Inn.

We were seated upstairs in the private dining area which featured a large chandelier made of wood or horns or something masculine but which every single person who walked underneath it, staff included, managed to bang their head on (Management: you might want to look at that). I would have preferred to sit in the main dining room with its panels of glass looking out on the river, so I don’t feel I can comment fairly on the decor. From the glance I had from the bar, it felt a little like Hotel du Vin in style. I shall return during the day to get a better look. I did however like the lanterns leading up to the front door. They seemed to promise a little bit of magic.

Because it is all new and a bit posh (and has those lanterns), it felt like the kind of place that you could get a properly made cocktail. Having spent time living in New York, my husband is rather partial to a properly made martini, shaken, not stirred obviously. But when he asked at the bar for a martini with a twist, it proved problematic as that wasn’t on the menu and they had a limited array of vodka. They did manage to make one, but it immediately made me think that this was more pub than smart restaurant. Perhaps that is exactly what it is meant to be, but if so, it has something of an identity crisis.

This was borne out by the service at the table too. When a menu offers posh nosh with pretty punchy prices, I expect service that is slightly more polished. We had to ask frequently for bottles of water, each of which took ages to arrive. The waitress seemed slightly bored by it all as though she was tolerating us, rather than making us feel welcome. When the food was ready, servers stood shouting out what the plates of food were as you might find at a pub where you place your order at the bar. It was all just a bit functional and amateurish, rather than, ‘I believe the medium rare fillet was yours madam….’.

The food itself was good but not really remarkable. I had a starter of deep fried brie with heirloom beetroot salad. It was nice. In a ‘yeah it was alright’ kind of way. Fellow diners had mussels, prawn cocktail, a chicken and ham terrine and pate (they were described in a slightly more poetic fashion on the menu). I didn’t hear any complaints from anyone, but then again I didn’t hear anyone waxing lyrical either.

We were all incredibly boring in our choice of main courses, with seven out of eight of us ordering fillet steaks and one lone ranger opting for the T-bone. The steaks were very well cooked, the chip shop chips good. I did hear one fellow diner in raptures about the skinny fries so shall have to try those in the future. The only disappointing thing was the peppercorn sauce which was thin and tasted of not very much at all.

We didn’t have pudding, but did enjoy complimentary rhubarb schnapps from the manager to help our birthday girl celebrate her birthday. Which was kind of them.

I think if I had gone to the Star Inn with the expectation of having slightly posh pub food, then I would have thought it was fab. But due to the fancy sounding menu items and high prices (£30 a fillet steak, £3.50 for a sauce, £3.50 for chips), I expected better than good. I expected exceptional. And it wasn’t.

That said, I will go back. I am hoping that a few of the issues are just teething problems that will get ironed out.  And perhaps some of my negative thoughts are my fault for not fully understanding what the Star Inn the City is trying to be – a posh pub, rather than a smart restaurant.

Ultimately, with good company, you will have a fantastic evening regardless.


P.S. I forgot to say, I did like the fact that they support other local businesses like the Yorkshire Soap Company soaps and hand creams in the loos. Nice touch.

The website is not yet live but contact details can be found here


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