Our first visit to The Star and Garter was born from necessity. We were thirty miles from home on a miserable Sunday afternoon, hungry, and with a newly acquired wine rack taking over the back two-thirds of the car . Its on these occasions that comfort is called for. Long roasted meats with burnished veg and crisp potatoes are the needs of the day. We choose the pub because it has good form; we use their sister pub, The Highfield, as our local go to stop when such needs occur closer to home. There the plate is prettily stacked with carbs, protein, and topped with a fist sized Yorkshire pudding. There are greens to share in a bowl and replacement spuds and Yorkshire puddings are offered. Sundays at The Highfield have never let us down, meaning expectations at The Star and Garter are high.
It delivers as we hoped it would. Meaty chipolata sausages and a silky sweet potato soup show an assured touch – the latter having a nice refrained hit of heat from harissa and a big pinch of ground pepper. With a strong idea of what to expect, we make a concerted effort to save room for the roast which will more than justify the decision. The meat, in this case pork from Jimmy Butler and a rump of beef from Aubrey Allen, are impeccably sourced and cooked with care, save for the crackling on the pig which threatens to increase my dental plan premium. The presentation is a little more rustic than what we have come to expect, though the portions appear more generous. This is a trade-off that we are happy to take, and it fits the environment which is more upmarket local than the 1920’s grandeur of The Highfield. The roast potatoes are crisp, the root veg puree well seasoned, the Yorkshire pudding fist sized. There is not much to fault with any of it. We take the extra Yorkshire’s and dredge them through the last of the thick, glossy gravy whilst wishing that this were our local. A generous portion of winter fruits crumble and a cheesecake, light on texture and big on orange flavour, sends us replete on our way.
We go back a week later, invited this time, to try the grill night. Its more of that impeccably sourced meat, cooked exactly how it should be. Lamb kebabs are impaled chunks of pink rump, nestled upon couscous sharpened with lots of orange and dotted with studs of green pea. My girlfriend doesn’t eat lamb. She does now. She also decides now would be a good time to eat pork, making the most of my excellent Iberico chop. Triple cooked chips are the bane of my life (along with overuse of exclamation marks and emoticons!!!), though here they are just that; second only to The Hand & Flowers for the snap of the exterior and fluffy insides. Together the two of them are gammon and chips for grown-ups, the egg replaced with a harrissa butter that holds up the strong flavour from the black-footed pig. We eat a perfectly rare slab of rump cap beef before remembering to take a picture. It was that good.
We try the cheesecake again which doesn’t quite hit the same heights as a week back and take a baked Golden Cenarth which oozes cheesy goodness, despite apparently missing the advertised truffle honey. These are just small niggles and we leave for the second time in 10 days full and without complaint. The Star and Garter is not re-writing any books on gastronomy, but nor is it trying to. They take prime ingredients and pay them the respect that they deserve. Its a simple idea, and one that I wish would catch on more often. Sunday lunches, grill nights, or otherwise intended. Go give it a go, you’re in safe hands.
The first meal was paid for, the second not. My view is honest and taken over both meals, the first of which they were unaware of whom I was.