The country house hotel
At one end of the pretty village of Harome sits the old beamed and thatched The Star Inn run by the convivial Andrew Pern, while at the other end of the village, is The Pheasant run by co-owners Jacquie Silk and chef Peter Neville. Two stellar restaurants in one small village. You really can’t have too much of a good thing in Harome.
The Star has always bathed in the limelight, the boisterous big brother to its demure younger sibling, The Pheasant. Andrew rides the highs and the lows with his extrovert charm, while Jacquie and Peter discreetly get on with the job. Now after ten years, The Pheasant has matured into the complete package of an elegant country house hotel with excellent food.
Beyond an ivy-covered archway, The Pheasant’s interior soothes the soul at every turn. It’s not just the soft lights, candles and log fires but the burnished silver, polished oak and acres of sofas and plumped up cushions. The lounge leads onto a vine-laden terrace overlooking the village duck pond for summer lunches and afternoon tea. Opt simply for tea and scones with jam and cream or go for the whole package with the addition of sandwiches, cakes and a glass of Champagne.
In winter the dark and snug bar comes into its own, with tartan throws and winged chairs – hints of a Scottish hunting lodge crossed with a gentleman’s club. Sooner or later someone will thrust a drink into your hand and offer you a menu. In the bar, it’s simple but superior comforts like sausage and mash, a burger, steak and chips or sandwiches and salad taken at a big scrubbed table or cosily by the fire.
Dinner is a more elaborate event in the dining room or conservatory, heavily influenced, says Neville, by his former mentor Claude Bosi of Hibiscus and currently Bibendum, and of course by Yorkshire’s bountiful larder, like a side of beautifully smoked salmon from Helmsley’s Fabulous Meat and Fish Co., carved at the table and served with beetroot puree, potato salad and pink grapefruit.
There’s a sophisticated restraint to dishes like mackerel escabeche with oyster panna cotta; octopus carpaccio with red pepper and chorizo. For mains, his established ‘signature’ dish is a remarkable combo of braised oxtail and squid served with hash browns, sugar snap peas and cornbread. And to follow, Peter’s summer suggestion: ‘It’s got to be Sinnington strawberries for the strawberry shortcake with vanilla clotted cream cheese and strawberry and rose petal sorbet.’ It’s hard to think of a more elegant and pleasing menu, or in a more cosseting setting.