THE BETTY'S LEGACY OF TEMPTING TREATS
In 1907 a young Swiss baker and confectioner, Fritz Butzer travelled to England with the dream of opening his own café.
He spent his first night in the waiting room of Bradford station – penniless and jobless and unable to speak a word of English. Little did he know the great future that lay ahead of him and the extraordinary legacy he would create.
Eventually he settled in the spa town of Harrogate, changed his name to Frederick Belmont and became a chocolate specialist. In 1919 he opened the first Betty’s later described as “a household word, standing for all that is dainty and comfortable and fashionable in a café”. It also boasted Royal and distinguished patronage.
Over the last 100 years the business has seen many changes but it still is the focal point for visitors to Harrogate and York from all over the world. Having afternoon tea at Betty’s is as important for tourists as watching the changing of the guard!
Afternoon tea has seen a resurgence over the last decade. It was first introduced in England by Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford, in the year 1840. The Duchess would become hungry around four o’clock in the afternoon. The evening meal in her household was served fashionable late at eight o’clock, thus leaving a long period of time between lunch and dinner.
Nothing could be more decadent than having afternoon tea in The Imperial Room at Betty’s Harrogate. To say it’s a once in a lifetime experience is an understatement for it has its own ambience, old world charm and creates beautiful memories.
Enter the building and mount the stairs into the Imperial Room is like stepping back in time to a bygone era; I almost felt I should have been wearing an ankle length tea-dress and a large picture hat. The sound of piano music greets you as smartly dressed servers cross backwards and forwards in pristine white highly starched aprons. The chandeliers glisten in the sunlight that floods through the windows overlooking the famous Stray whilst the dark wooden fireplace and antiques contrast beautifully with the snow white linen cloths.
We are greeted and shown to our table by our server James who was the epitome of old style service.
We opted for the Champagne afternoon tea. There was a choice of a glass of champagne from the Hebrart or Moutard estates – both family growers with a lifetime of experience and the drink certainly added an extra sparkle to our afternoon tea. I opted for the Moutard Rose Prestige Champagne, which was served at just the right temperature, whilst my colleague ordered the Kir Royale Cocktail which she loves and was delighted that she could taste the blackcurrant in it.
There was a multitude of teas to choose from including nine black teas, three scented black teas, a white tea, three green teas and two herbal infusions. James told us we could try as many different teas as we wished but I was quite content to stick with my choice of the Betty’s afternoon tea blend that had depth and flavour and was created exclusively for Bettys.
My colleague, not a tea drinker, was well pleased with her pot of Café Blend coffee. How pampered I felt when each time my pot was refreshed I was given a clean cup and saucer.
Our afternoon tea started with an appetiser of Prawn, Spring Onion and Cucumber Cocktail. This was very refreshing. The marinated Atlantic prawns, red chilli, spring onions and coriander with cucumber and mint crème fraiche were served with a crisp paprika croute.
Next came a savoury of a puff pastry tart with roasted red peppers and sun-dried tomatoes Gran Mantovano cheese, sweet pickled red onions and a basil dressing. This had just the right amount of spicy flavouring and was tasty yet light.
After these starters it was time for our cake stand of treats to arrive – but these were not just sandwiches these were artistic culinary treats.
There was a miniature croissant with salmon smoked with Tea Room Blend tea and dill crème fraiche and a delicious roast chicken with Caesar dressing, gem lettuce and parmesan cheese sandwich. However the third sandwich with roasted red pepper and tomato pate we did find a little overbearing and not to our particular taste. However you can request more sandwiches and we requested another chicken one as the red pepper ones were just too hard to handle for us.
The freshly baked warm scones were so scrumptious. The lemon scone and the sultana scone went down a treat with lashings of jam and cream – but our heaven on a plate was yet to come.
Miniature cakes that Frederick once served are still going strong today. We feasted on an Apple and Vanilla Custard Tart. This was a rich, sweet all butter pastry filled with apple compote and a smooth vanilla custard topped with light apple mousse and Swiss chocolate decoration. Next came an orange and lemon macaroon, perfectly chewy it was filled with lemon curd and orange butter cream and melted in the mouth.
But the ultimate was the Salted Caramel Pillow a crunchy praline base, layered with rich Grand Cru Chocolate mousse with a salted caramel centre, decorated with dark chocolate highlighted with gold lustre was definitely my heaven on a plate.
As we took our last sips of beverage we felt pampered and proud to have been able to savour this experience that enjoys world wide fame and patronage and is based here in our beloved Yorkshire.
Determined to remember our fabulous treat we couldn’t resist visiting the shop downstairs and purchasing some reminders of our afternoon of culinary elegance.
Betty’s have six tea rooms in Yorkshire for details of opening times, to reserve a table or to find their location visit www.bettys co.uk.
EASTER OR MOTHER’S DAY TREATS
Wherever you are you can enjoy Betty’s treats without ever leaving home with their exclusive Betty’s By Post Service available on line at www.bettys co.uk.