Summer 2023 saw the opening of a new restaurant set in an iconic historical building in the heart of York: York Minster Refectory. Led by Michelin Star chef, Andrew Pern, of acclaimed The Star Inn The City and The Star Inn At Harome, York Minster Refectory serves dishes rooted in the best produce from Yorkshire, celebrating its abundant moors and coastline, whilst guests enjoy unparalleled views overlooking York Minster. This new opening is the latest in a string of exciting new spaces launching in this burgeoning foodie city, cementing its reputation as the food capital of the North.
“The opportunity arose following the decision to refurbish the old Minster School for use as a hospitality venue,” Andrew explains the location of his latest venture. “For me, the setting of a restaurant is a very important part of the ‘experience’. Historic landmark buildings bring a great deal of atmosphere to a restaurant setting and the Minster School is completely unrivalled. I feel very privileged to have had the opportunity to locate the Refectory here.”
Steeped in history, the original York Minster site dates back to 627 AD, with the main building of the adjacent school built in 1833. Following a delicate refurbishment by GEM Construction, the Grade II listed space has been transformed into an elegant, welcoming dining space by award-winning, Pickering-based firm, Rachel McLane Ltd. The interior is sympathetic to the building’s heritage. Neo-gothic design elements – including original large latticed windows, wooden corbels with carved faces and considerable stone archways – are highlighted and brought up to date with relaxed furniture in dark oak tones and antique brushed brass. A private dining space seating up to 40 guests provides a stunning setting for a special meal, offering seasonal group menus served in grande upper level room featuring a huge arched window overlooking the cathedral.
And the menu? “My approach has always been to let the seasons write the menus using Yorkshire’s brilliant pantry of food supplied by an array of White Rose flag producers.” Andrew says. Each element, from meat, to vegetables, to herbs is taken from the Vale of York’s high quality and varied pantry of food. Presenting new takes on old-fashioned British-style favourites and Anglicised French classics, the menu has been designed to be accessible for all.
The all-day offering covers choices from the A La Carte menu, including Coronation Crab ‘Vol-au-vent’ with sultanas, flaked almonds and coriander; Steak Tartare with gherkin ketchup, cured egg yolk, dripping and onion cracker; and Black Treacle Salmon with scallions, pickled ginger, wasabi and sesame dressing.
Those choosing to stay for the full dining experience can expect starters including White Onion Velouté with Brew York cider, charred grelots, black garlic with apple & sultana brioche “whirl”; Slow Cooked Pig’s Cheeks with radish, pea & broad bean salad, smoked bacon croutons and Granny Smith apple; and the Refectory Cocktail of Atlantic prawns, spiced crab, crevette, mussels and clams, avocado served with a warm tin loaf.
Main courses, or the ‘Main Event’ as dictated on the menu, range from Chargrilled Loin Of Yorkshire Venison with haunch and black pudding potato pressing, new season turnip and sauce “grand veneur”; “Bouillabaisse” Of Roasted Stone Bass with Shetland mussels, crispy squid, king scallop, Whitby crab “rouille” toast and coastal pickings; Yorkshire Wolds Chicken Breast with Lyonnaise potatoes, spenwood shavings, torched gem and a sprinkling of pancetta; plus Wild Mushroom and Summer Truffle “Pithivier” with charred broccoli, walnut ketchup, pickled girolles and salted cracked hazelnuts. Desserts range from the traditional with a twist, to the inventive, with Granny’s Tipsy Peach and Amaretto Trifle, “Bananas and Custard” using dark rum, muscovado sugar and cinder toffee, and the “Minster Mess”, with Yorkshire strawberries, meringue, hay and vanilla creme and elderflower.
Are there any dishes that Andrew is particularly loving right now? “I still lean towards dishes that remind me of my North Yorkshire Moors roots,” he smiles, “which would force me to choose between the Pressed Yorkshire Moors Game Haslet and the Breast of Yorkshire Moors Pheasant with Blackberries. We also have a couple of North Sea fish options that I would struggle to decide which to choose, and I do have a passion for cheese! The Refectory has a good cheese course selection, one of which is accompanied by Parkin, a particular favourite of mine.”
The response to York Minster Refectory has been unanimously positive and is just the latest in a long line of high class restaurants to open in the city. “The York food scene has changed massively in the last decade, since we started at The Star Inn The City down by the River Ouse in Museum Gardens,” Andrew says. “Prior to that, the Blue Bicycle, Meltons and 19 Grape Lane were the places to go. There was no dining at the top of the city, where we are, nor much breakfast or lunchtime demand, whereas now these are two of the busiest shifts!”
And how are things going at The Star Inns? “The original Star Inn in Harome was closed for a year due to a major fire and reopened almost a year ago after a partial rebuild and complete refurbishment. It has come back better than ever, in my opinion,” Andrew smiles. “Fortunately, a lot of our diners and the AA Inspectors, who gave us 3 stars agree with me. I couldn’t be happier with it! The Star Inn The City has just marked its 10th anniversary and is also continuing to perform amazingly, having established its own place in the hearts of its loyal clientele.” With the York Minster Refectory thriving, that’s the perfect three courses of Andrew Pern’s cooking.