The award winning Star @ Sancton is easy to miss. I'd driven right past the tiny whitewashed building, with its small shingle sign, facing a busy through road before I noticed an equally tiny lane beside it.
Good thing I did too. That miniscule frontage concealed, like the tip of an iceberg, a rambling gastropub that spread out across the rear where the main entrance is. And, from the number of smart cars that filled the large parking lot on an ordinary weeknight, I knew I was probably in for a treat.
Inside, diners are greeted in a warm and friendly, modern country pub that opens out into a more formal dining room with a red leather banquette along one of the stone walls and several hearths. Diners in general looked well heeled.
I can't really comment on the service - though it was warm and friendly - because they knew who I was and were expecting me, so therefore impossible to judge. I have seen other reviews which comment positively on the service though.
A Magnet for Locavores
The village of Sancton is in the heart of East Yorkshire's farm country, at the foot of the Yorkshire Wolds Way. With so many farms all around, it would be surprising not to find good restaurants in the region serving local produce. The Star takes the concept further - almost everything on the menu comes from a named local supplier, the pedigree clear from the start. So expect to find gammon from Syke House Farm, Jervaulx Abbey blue cheese - named for and made near an abbey in the Yorkshire Dales, Moorlands cyder braised pork,fillet of beef from Lavarack's of Holme, Anna's cured bacon, Doreen's black pudding and so on. And if you are thinking of partaking of the cheese course, expect to peruse a multi-page cheese menu, similar to a wine list.
Chef Ben Cox whips it all up into a gourmet menu that is also low on food miles and packed with fresh, local ingredients.
What's on the Menu
The menu includes eight starters, nine main courses and five comforting bar menu favorites.
Starters ranged from a soup of the day at £4.95 to seared sea scallops with local gammon and egg with chili and chervil for £9.95. Yorkshire pudding, a sage flavored version for which the pub has won prizes, is served as a starter with oxtail confit and caramelised onion jus.
Mains include a good selection of local lamb, pork, beef and venison as well as fish from North Sea - the Yorkshire coast is only a few miles away. They ranged (in March 2012) from two tempting looking vegetarian choices at £13.95 - vegetarian bubble and squeak with young leeks and roast almonds, or open pastry of winter roots and pumpkin seeds with colcannon, up to fillet of beef for £24.95.
The bar menu favorites include steak, fish pie, steak and ale pie, fish and chips and sausage and mash.
A separate dessert menu includes six sweets, the cheese menu and welsh rarebit, along with an international selection of dessert wines - Hungary, Australia, California and France, a variety of coffees and teas.
My Choices and My Verdict
I started with the Jervaulx blue cheese risotto with roast hazelnut crumb, celery cress and parsnip crisps. The risotto was rich and creamy, studded with lumps of melting cheese and despite my best efforts, the temptation to wipe the plate clean of this more-ish starter was enormous. My only quibble, the parsnip crips were not at all crisp but were rather soggy and chewy. A small detail on an otherwise really scrumptious dish.
I probably would not have ordered the fabulous Star fish pie from the bar favorites menu if I had known how much cheese it contained. Combined with my cheesy starter, I rather over did that element, devising for myself a menu that was far too rich. But that was my fault - a bit of distracted poor ordering, rather than anything wrong with the dish. In fact it was packed with large chunks of salmon, haddock and hake and beautifully seasoned.
The pie would also have been more than generous for two, which made the odd and tiny salad - herbs, grapes, no dressing - all the more surprising and disappointing.
For dessert we tried a raspberry mousse (beautifully flavored with local berries) a home made raspberry sorbet that was tangy and fruity and a vanilla mousse which, though visibly flecked with vanilla tasted of nothing much beside cream and was of a heavier texture than I'd expect of a mousse.
The bottom line - Despite the few quibbles mentioned above, this was an excellent meal, taking full advantage of seasonal, local produce and the chef's talents. I would visit again when I am next in the area without hesitation.
- Address:The Star @ Sancton, King Street, Sancton, Market Weighton, York, East Yorkshire YO43 4QP
- Telephone: +44 (0)1430 827269
- Average price: Three courses with wine and coffee about £50 per person. There is a cheaper bar menu on a chalkboard in the pub bar.
- Read more reviews of the Star @ Sancton on Tripadvisor.
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