The Pheasant Hotel, Harome review: Country hotel proves a star turn after fire devastated its Michelin-starred neighbour
Before I get to the purpose of my trip to Harome, a review of the acclaimed Pheasant Hotel, I cannot ignore the shock of driving into the village and seeing the Star Inn after the devastating fire last November. The inn is wrapped up like a giant white monolith away from prying eyes as the rebuilding takes place and is such a reminder of how precious it is, not just to Harome but to Yorkshire as whole. I for one look forward to when its doors open again.
Across the way at the Pheasant Hotel, it was wonderful to hear how Jacquie Silk (Pern as was) had joined forces with her ex, Andrew, to bring staff over from the Star to all work together, thus making the best of what has been such a tragedy for everyone, not least the staff suddenly left without work.
Deciding whether to go tasting menu – there are seven or five courses, with joy of joys, also a separate vegetarian one – or al a carte took some figuring out but the latter won, though truly both read so well. We were choosing from the late spring menu and by the time you read this, I am thinking it will have flipped to the summer one. So, apologies if you fancy some of what we had, especially the asparagus as the local season will be well over.
There was a promising start from a moreish tomato and basil bread with a truffle butter, followed swiftly by a red pepper gazpacho with a black olive crumb. We passed over a pork pâté with Yorkshire rhubarb, a roast lamb broth and a deliciously sounding home-smoked salmon with a warm crumpet for asparagus and scallop. But no ordinary scallop, this was hand dived in Orkney, all fat, plump and sweet still with a hint of the sea. At its side in contrast was a fruity, flavour-packed chunk of homemade black pudding, orchard apple and a clever goose fat and white bean whip.
The asparagus came both as the gentlest pale green bavarois and as al-dente tips. On top sat a hefty crispy coated goat’s cheese and a poached quail’s egg with squeaky fresh legumes. This was a clever dish full of contrasting flavours and textures but as good as the bavarois was, there was a bit too much of it and it started to feel a little cloying towards the end.
A tender piece of venison loin with an earthy crapaudine beetroot came not with the promised black trumpet mushrooms, but the strange-looking cordyceps fungi – which I will admit to never having eaten before but will be again – and a gamey, liquorice sauce which was superb. A supremely classic pan roasted lemon sole a la meunière was a triumph and clearly had been in the capable hands of someone in the kitchen who truly knew restraint when it comes to cooking fish and was served with samphire, tiny capers, my favourite Ratte potatoes and a sauce beurre blanc.
There was little room for dessert but there was no way across the table he could pass over the wonderful famous Spirit of Yorkshire whisky flavoured pecan tart with a delicate sliver of raw pear and lemon thyme sorbet. A serious grown-up pud. And for me, I managed to squeeze in a light organic sheep’s milk yoghurt panna cotta along with crunchy glazed macadamia nuts, and refreshing coconut and lemongrass sorbet.
So, I am happy to report that all is well at the Pheasant and any previous unsettling reservations of what might be happening can now be parked. The food is lovely and beautifully suited to the hotel. Jacquie was not in the night of our visit and, though service was excellent, I did miss her reassuring presence, particularly when it came to wanting to know about who was now in the kitchen; there has been nothing mentioned of it. I can say, it is chef is Vincenzo Raffone and I guess that we will all be hearing more of him if this is his standard.
The Pheasant Hotel, Harome, near Helmsley, YO62 5JG, tel, 01439 771241, e-mail: [email protected]. Open every day: lunch, 12 to 2pm; dinner, 6pm to last orders for food, 9pm. Dinner for two with wine, £176.