TO INDULGE THEMSELVES IN ITS CULINARY DELIGHTS
Whatever day you pass by Bettys Tea Room at Harrogate you can guarantee there will be a queue of people eagerly waiting to sample the delights of this historic temple of culinary delights.
A family business since 1919 Bettys was founded on the dreams of a young Swiss boy, Frederick. Life dealt little Frederick a cruel hand: orphaned at a young age in a fire at his father’s mill in the tiny Swiss village of Wangen-an-der-Aare, he was then sold to the highest bidder as farm labour.
While Frederick’s story got off to a shaky start, his passion for baking and confectionery changed the course of his life and led him to England where in 1919 Bettys was born.
He settled in the spa town of Harrogate and styled himself as a ‘Chocolate Specialist’ and it was here that his luck started to change. He fell in love and later married his landlady’s daughter and with the financial support of her family the first Betty’s was open for business.
The combination of mouth-watering Swiss confectionery and Yorkshire hospitality in an elegant setting proved irresistible and Bettys was an instant success and soon was able to boast of ‘Royal and Distinguished Patronage’ on its letterheads.
Over the next two decades Frederick opened more branches in Yorkshire including a flagship branch in York modelled on the Queen Mary cruise liner.
Famous for their afternoon teas Bettys also has an equally popular lunch and breakfast menu that entices customers from all over the world.
Stand in the queue and you’ll be amazed at where people have travelled from to enjoy the Bettys experience.
We joined the queue for lunch and like everything at Betty’s this is so well organised – normally its only a 20 minute wait as there are four different dining suites in the Harrogate café.
When you join ‘the line’ as the Americans behind us called it you are immediately asked how many in your party and given a menu by one of the café’s hosts.
Waiting in the queue we listened to the conversations of fellow waiting guests from New Zealand, Germany, Sweden and all over the United Kingdom. Time flew by and we were escorted to our table in the Spindler Room downstairs.
The Spindler Room is a unique and beautiful place and houses what is thought to be the largest collection of marquetry art. These pieces of art reflect the beauty spots and life of our county.
In 1930 founder Fritz commissioned some pieces for his home from Charles Spindler a French craftsman artist. Later he commissioned some large panels of Yorkshire landmarks and scenery for his café. These pieces and pictures by Spindler adorn the walls and give the place a warm and interesting ambience.
Betty’s is renown for its old style service and rightly so. There is crisp white linen, silver cutlery, china and sparkling crystal glasses and your server is attentive to your wishes. They also know their product and go to great lengths to describe any dish you may be considering and present the food at the table in the old style way.
We were spoilt for choice selecting our lunch. So whilst we decided we ordered a glass of house white wine – Fendant de Sion from Chasselas. It was crisp, dry and fruit and exceptionally good value.
I decided on the Chicken Schnitzel and was over the moon with my choice. The Yorkshire chicken and gruyere cheese was coated in Betty’s breadcrumbs and had been pan fried until golden brown. It had lots of the tasty gruyere cheese and was a very generous size schnitzel. Accompanying it were pommes allumettes, mixed salad leaves and delicious cherry tomatoes.
My colleagues choice of Fried Fillet of Haddock was a virtual feast. The batter was crispy and very light and the fish succulent, flaky and flavoursome – again the portion was large. The fish was served with crushed peas of a perfect consistency, whilst the chips were light and fluffy on the inside and crisp on the outside and the tartare sauce obviously homemade.
We had saved ourselves for the sweet course – as one cannot come to Bettys Café without having a cake or patisserie.
My colleague chose the Orange Cheesecake & Berries. This was a rich and creamy orange cheesecake on a crunchy biscuit base and served with mixed berries and passion fruit sauce. The passion fruit sauce was very tangy and diffused the wonderfully creamy taste of the cheesecake.
When my dessert came I just was not prepared for what was placed in front of me. I joked I needed a booster seat to reach the top of my Ultra Extra-Special Heaven on a Plate that had obviously been made in the Angels Kitchen.
My amazing Bettys Brown Bread Sundae was served in a tall sundae glass. It consisted of brown bread ice cream – which I had never had before but can well recommend and is made in Yorkshire to an exclusive Bettys recipe. The sundae had lots of crushed almond macaroons, chopped pecan nuts toffee sauce and was finished off with a mountain of whipped cream.
I really though I’d never finish it but I did. The nuts and almond macaroons diffused with sweetness of the toffee sauce and added to the flavour of the ice-cream. I may just have to plan an escape trip to Bettys to indulge myself in one of these quite soon!
After our meal and a very long walk on The Stray we both reflected on our Bettys Experience and realised just why this historic establishment is a must have stop for visitors from all over the world.
Betty’s Cafe Tea Room, l Parliament Street, Harrogate. Visit: www.bettys.co.uk
Opening Hours – Mon,Tues,Thurs,Sun 9-5pm – Fri & Sat 9-6.
Afternoon Tea Only– Can be booked in advance by calling 01423 814043 or visiting Bettys website.
You can also enjoy afternoon tea without booking as there is a walk-in facility.