Chef profile: The Starr Restaurant, Great Dunmow
PUBLISHED: 10:55 13 January 2010 | UPDATED: 16:00 20 February 2013
THE unusual spelling of the restaurant name is thought to come from the surname of a previous owner. Nevertheless, this popular destination still shines out from the market place in Dunmow, writes Stephanie Mackentyre...
THE unusual spelling of the restaurant name is thought to come from the surname of a previous owner. Nevertheless, this popular destination still shines out from the market place in Dunmow, writes Stephanie Mackentyre.
An historic, domineering faade gives way to a resplendent, charming interior with draped linen and fresh flowers on the round tables before the original wooden beams and the expertly-crafted menu give you confidence of a very special dining experience.
I visited for lunch with Terry George, The Starr's owner and manager, and we were ably catered for by chef Adam Rigden. Terry has worked at The Starr since February 1984, originally working as front of house manager. He met his wife Louise there too, the couple eventually having a French-style wedding reception in the open-air courtyard in the summer of 1988.
The aroma of the warm fresh salmon was impossible to resist and the horseradish ice cream was bizarre but brilliant
The couple took over the restaurant in 2003 and gave it a major refurbishment in 2006. Head chef Mark Pearson, taking a well-earned holiday on the day of my visit, joined in 2004 and has become an instant hit with regular and new diners alike. So much so, Mark is now running cookery demonstrations on the first Tuesday of every month, where you can learn some tricks of the trade to impress your dinner guests.
Places are limited, so early booking is advisable. When Adam brought out our first course of treacle-cured Loch Duart salmon with horseradish ice cream and confit beetroot, my initial thought was it looked too good to eat. The aroma of the warm fresh salmon was impossible to resist and the horseradish ice cream was bizarre but brilliant.
Then came an interesting combination, Bigods Farm Loin of Venison Cottage Pie with a carrot puree, tarragon and girolle (wild mushroom) emulsion. A great dish for carnivorous, indecisive diners, this was two dishes on one plate. The mini cottage pie and the two mini fillets of venison were succulent and melted in your mouth with a richness of flavour.
For dessert, Adam prepared a retro-esque arctic roll, hand-crafted of course. The sugariness of the light sponge surrounding the vanilla pod ice cream was cut through by the welcome tartness of the freshly-poached rhubarb. Finally, Adam surprised us with dainty petit fours to enjoy with our coffee.
An old stable block at The Starr has now been converted into eight, lovely bedrooms - all with private facilities and one even boasting a four-poster bed. There are also two private dining rooms meaning The Starr is sure to be a star attraction for diners in Dunmow and beyond.
Get the taste
The Starr Restaurant
Market Place, Great Dunmow,
Essex CM6 1AX