There are six genteel Bettys Tea Rooms dotted across North Yorkshire, all serving delicious food and selling their lovely cakes, pastries and breads to take home. This week, completely unexpectedly, we have eaten at three of them.
Lindsey's sister and brother-in-law visited over the weekend and on Monday we all went to York. First stop when we arrived was Bettys little café in Stonegate for a light lunch. This is our favourite part of York: a maze of narrow medieval streets, crammed with interesting little shops, cafés and pubs. The streets are next to York Minster and the huge, gothic structure - the largest gothic cathedral north of the Alps - seems to follow you around, peering over the roofs of the shops.
|Stonegate with York Minster
looming in the background
Bettys in Stonegate is charming. You walk through the tiny shop selling their range of breads and confections and upstairs is the tea room, occupying space above their shop as well as several of their neighbours. We sat in a cosy room to the rear with perfect views of the Minster where our selections included tomato, mozzarella and pesto in a Swiss cheese and chive roll; and Yorshire rarebit, a local take on the Welsh staple. All accompanied by fine tea and coffee.
After a couple of hours of light shopping we set off towards home, stopping off in Harrogate where our guests used to live. The quick trip down memory lane naturally included tea in Bettys. Harrogate is the 'original' Bettys, established by a Swiss pastry chef in 1919. It is said that he arrived in Yorkshire entirely by mistake, having lost the address he was supposed to be travelling to when he arrived in England. However, he remembered that the town sounded like 'Bratwurst' so he boarded the train the Bradford. The clean air in Yorkshire reminded him of his native Switzerland so he decided to stay.
Bettys fits in perfectly in Harrogate. A fine collonaded building takes a corner overlooking The Stray, Harrogate's civic gardens and the large windows ensure that everyone gets the best view. We enjoyed various savouries including Wensleydale cheese and watercress quiche, accompanied by a bottle of 'extraordinary, aromatic' Alsace Gewürztraminer.
And then yesterday, after work, we met up with a friend who lives in Ilkley and who suggested tea in Bettys! How could we refuse? After the tourists of York and Harrogate, Ilkley is a much quieter branch, frequented largely by locals who know a good thing when they see it. Our light tea included Yorkshire rarebit toasted sandwiches and some exquisite Ethiopian Mocha Limu coffee.
Apparently, if you visit all six branches of Bettys in a single day, your tea in the final one is given free. We're working on it!