The original Betty’s was (and still is) in Harrogate, but York is home to two Betty’s now. I tasted the tea and goodies at Stonegate – a stone’s throw from both Guy Fawkes Inn and Judge’s Court Hotel – one of York’s best kept secrets, literally hidden in plain sight.
The sparkling, multi-paned front windows lure you inside the narrow entrance to gaze at the gorgeous biscuits, cakes, and teas for sale. But persevere through the shop and turn left and up the well-worn stairs, and you’ll ascend into a different era. The tea rooms are an oasis of calm and respite, welcome after a day of touring and exploring.
The waitstaff won’t hurry you but are always available when you need something – a special talent missing at many places. And being on the second floor, you have a birds-eye view of the old streets of York if you sit near the windows.
Betty’s offers a traditional afternoon tea, consisting of multiple sandwiches (smoked salmon, honey roast ham, roast chicken breast, and egg mayonnaise and cress), a sultana (raisin) scone with jam and clotted cream, a selection of tiny cakes (lemon macaroon, gateau l’opera, fresh fruit tart), and a pot of tea. You can also upgrade to the “pink champagne afternoon tea” which substitutes a glass of Moutard Rose Prestige Champagne for the tea for an extra charge. Or opt for a Yorkshire cream tea, which consists of two raisin scones, jam, clotted cream, and tea.
Betty’s also offers hot entrees, salads, and quiches for afternoon fare. I opted for the full (but miniature) mushroom quiche which was served with three salad portions: cucumber and fennel, carrot and coriander, and mixed bean and cashew. All three were magnificent: the cucumbers were peeled, sliced, seeded, and tasted really fresh combined with the fennel. Interestingly, the bean and cashew salad contained raw cashews…chewy and tasty. The entire thing was just right for me, especially with all the drinks: sparkling water, a flute of prosecco, and a pot of tea.
After enjoying the entree, I had no room for a treat from the cake trolley, which was a shame, indeed. Betty’s makes divine sweets, ranging from a Swiss chocolate torte to a lemon meringue eclair, a range of macaroons, and frangipane. They also specialize in brown bread ice cream sundae – a Yorkshire specialty that you must try! If you stop at Betty’s in the morning, they have a great little breakfast menu as well.
I was far too full from my meal to purchase anything in the shop as I left, but the shop is well worth a look around. And Betty’s ships, as well!
The Skinny: Betty’s Cafe Tea Rooms Stonegate, 46 Stonegate, York YO1 8AS. No reservations (first come, first served). Second floor, no lift available. (Try Betty’s St. Helen’s Square if you do not want to navigate stairs.) Afternoon tea: £20, Champagne Tea: £28. Hours: 10 am-5 pm S-F, Saturdays, 9:30-5:30.
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