This weekend saw Basil Snr (that's Dad, by the way) belatedly celebrate his birthday with the culinary extravaganza that was dinner at the Star at Harome, North Yorkshire.
The Star has an excellent reputation for consistently serving up big and bold dishes, as cooked by their big and bold head chef and patron, Andrew Pern.
Andrew and Star best-seller, Black Pudding and Foie Gras, served with scrumpy reduction and glazed apple.
Andrew and his wife Jacquie have been running the show for the last 13 years, and since day one they've invested time, money, heart and soul, into this Yorkshire institution. It's rightly acclaimed as one of the finest restaurant's of it's type in Yorkshire, if not the UK; Fine dining with homely charm and not an ounce of pretense.
Never one to take these kinds of experiences by halves, we opted to go all out and dine at the chef's table. Our menu was specifically designed for us by Andrew, who went for a combination of signiture dishes, prepared where possible using local and seasonal ingredients - Foie gras, for instance, isn't exactly local to this particular corner of rural England.
The real treat, however, is that the table is sat virtually within the kitchen, giving us full reign to nose about, bother the chefs, pick up tips, and even demand to be let loose on the pots and pans. They should be pleased we saved them a job really...
Upon arrival, we wandered around the fantastically lush kitchen garden at the rear of the restaurant. Virtually all the fruit, veg and herbs we ate on the night came from the garden. I loved the artichoke plant, below, but apparently it wasn't quite ready for harvesting yet. A ploy to draw me back in a few weeks, I wonder? I have to say, I'm tempted.
Next up, champagne and canapes in the garden next to the smoke house, bbq, and even a swimming pool(!), before moving inside for a tour of the kitchen.
The stock pot, base of many of the fabulous sauces and reductions included on our menu that evening.
Four seafood mains on the pass, ready for service.
On to the meal, proper. There was little time for photos, but I can assure you all seven courses looked just as appealing as this, and tasted even better.
Wine was excellent too - particularly this white Burgundy.
And after a few (too many) glasses, we were ready to stage our coup of the kitchen. Dad and I jumped at the chance of finishing off the mains, and completed the task with aplomb, even if I do say so myself.
The final course... Chocolate treats. x4. Celebrations were certainly in order.
And relaxation was much needed... Coffee up in the rafters of the old restaurant.
The menu in full. Signed, of course.
You should just about be able to make out each of the dishes, but the only way to really get an idea of dinner at the chef's table is to go and experience it for yourself.
The Star at Harome, Helmsley, North Yorkshire. Highly recommended.