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About me: I will be back one day soon, just need to find more time, working long hours - Lyn x

Member since:08.07.2005

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Bettys the Ritz of the North

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01.10.2011 Diamond review

Advantages:
Wonderful historic building, classy and very tasty

Disadvantages:
a bit pricey

Recommendable Yes:

Detailed rating:

Frequency of visit

Value for money

Selection & range

In store customer service

Freshness of goods

City / Branch addressParliament St, Harrogate

PriceHigh

Layout & presentationExcellent

AvailabilityGoods are always in stock

QualityExcellent

After-sales serviceExcellent

Staff knowledgeExcellent

Waiting / queuesMedium

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Bettys of Harrogate

A few years ago we stayed at Nidd Hall and paid a visit into Harrogate. When I mentioned our trip my mother-in-law who is nearly 94 yrs young, she told us to visit Bettys and what a wonderful shop, cafe and tearooms it is; she was really excited and really wanted us to experience the place. On that visit the queue to lunch at Bettys was all round the shop and down the side street and this was in the depths of winter, so we only went into the shop and tried a couple of their cakes, although that was all we had. I was hooked; both my hubby and I agreed we had never tasted cakes as good as these. I also discovered on that visit that they had an on-line delivery service and they delivered to Canada, well that sorted Mom’s birthday and Christmas presents for the next couple of years.

If you read my reviews you will know that later this year, December in fact it will be my 50th Birthday and like my hubby with his Jaguar experience for his 60th last year, I wanted the Betty’s experience for my special birthday. I know we are a few months early, but we enjoy having short breaks and spreading them about, plus I have a weekend planned for my actual Birthday weekend and I am hoping that my family will all come over then as well, so this weekend is before the Christmas rushes and the weather being still fairly mild seemed like a great idea.

~~ A Little History~~

The first Bettys was opened in 1919 by Frederick Belmont a young Swiss confectioner, it is still very much a family run business.

Frederick Belmont lost his parents at an early age, he was in his teens when he did apprenticeships with bakers and confectioners across Europe; by the time he came over to Harrogate to open the first Betty’s he was full of ideas and inspiration for the future.

In the 1920’s he opened a craft bakery in Harrogate, complete with its own orchard, the success of this led to him opening more branches around Yorkshire. This included one in York which was inspired by the Queen Mary Cruise liner, which became very popular with the Americans and Canadians who were stationed in York during the war years.

In the 1960’s Bettys merged with Taylors of Harrogate who specialise in tea and coffee. Betty’s now has six cafe tea rooms across Yorkshire and also runs a cookery school and a home delivery service.

=~~Our Experience~~==

It is mid September and we arrived in Harrogate around 1215hrs, and after emptying the car we walked the short distance from our rented apartment to Betty’s, we had a very pleasant surprise as there was only around 20-30 people queuing so we joined the queue for lunch.

A member of the front of house staff came outside and asked us what we would like afternoon tea, a snack or a meal as this depended on where you were seated. We wanted a light lunch, so she gave us the appropriate menu to look at, noticing my walking stick she offered us a seat inside to wait to be led to the cafe area. We only waited about 5-10 mins when she came back and hold us to make our way to the stairs that led down to the section which we would be eating in. Again we had to queue, but this time my husband kept our place on the stairs and I went and sat on a chair at the bottom of the staircase until a table became available.

The Maitre d was very kind and helpful, often popping back to say it would not be long; we waited around 5 mins before a table became available and we were very lucky as it was a window seat.
The ‘specials’ for the day was carrot and orange soup at £5.35 or ‘Swiss alpine macaroni which was fresh penne pasta, dry cured bacon and new potatoes in a rich, cream sauce, topped with melted Raclette cheese at £9.95.

The menu – as this is a tea room as well there is a large selection of teas and coffees to choose from; the menu is split into various sections. House blend teas has a choice of three teas ranging from £3.15 to £3.50, House blend coffees range from £2.95 to £3.60 and from the choice of 6 you can either have a large cup or a pot for one.

Hot Chocolate has only 2 options at £3.50 and £3.60

Now this is not all because you then have their speciality section for teas, which gives you quality leaf tea served in a teapot for one with milk or lemon (plus a pot of hot water to get more cups).

Pictures of Bettys & Taylors
Bettys & Taylors Bettys in Harrogate
Bettys Tea Rooms
I had a Pi Lo Chun green tea which was described as ‘a famous green China tea with a light floral character. The name means ‘spring green snail’, a reference to its distinctive spiral-shaped leaves’. This cost £4.15 and I found it was a pleasant drink, mild tasting and quite refreshing, I had mine without milk or lemon; I choose this out of a selection of 9 different teas.

My hubby choose the ‘World’s Best Coffee’ for £3.95 out of the speciality coffees range of 8 choices. These are freshly ground and served in a cafetiere for one with hot milk or cream. His was described as ‘one of the most established coffees in the Bettys range, this is a perfectly balanced blend on Kenyan, Central and South American beans created during the Second World War. Medium roasted’ hubby says it was a great strong coffee without the bitter after taste.

Now down to the food; we could have enjoyed afternoon tea, but we were booked in for the next day at 1200hrs so we decided to try something else off the menu. Afternoon tea is £17.95 (I will describe this later), Yorkshire cream tea, scones, jam, clotted cream etc is £8.50. You could look at the delicious cake trolley where prices range from £3.75 - £4.50 per cake, or afternoon tea cakes and scones which range from £2.50 to £3.95.

Breakfast specialities which are available all day with a choice of 8 sections, toasted muffins come with various toppings. Prices range from £2.60 for cinnamon toast to £11.95 for a continental breakfast (warm croissants with butter and strawberry preserve, served with a glass of fresh orange juice and a pot of one of the cafe blend coffees).

Light Dishes, 8 choices including the soup of the day at £5.35 which was the carrot and orange I previously mentioned. I was intrigued by this and decided to try it, I was completely bowled over by it, the orange came through but it was not over powering; it was fairly thick in texture and I had a choice of white or malted brown rolls to accompany it.

The most expensive item on this section was £10.95 for a pan-fried Salmon salad, described as ‘Scottish Salmon pan-fried in herb and garlic butter with dill, cucumber and new potatoes, on mixed salad leaves’.

Main meals the cheapest main meal was the special Swiss Alpine Macaroni at £9.95 which I mentioned earlier, the most expensive was £12.95 for a Steak & Ale pie, which they described as ‘Yorkshire beef, chestnut mushrooms, onions, fresh thyme, cooked slowly in Daleside ale and topped with a puff pastry lid, served with new potatoes, casseroled red cabbage and chantenay carrots.

Side dishes were a tad expensive at £1.80 for a bread roll and butter to £3.50 for a bowl of mixed salad, as we hadn’t eaten since breakfast at 0730hrs that morning we had a side order of chipped potatoes for £3.20 we were slightly disappointed with these as they looked like frozen chips, which you can get anywhere, I did expect to have homemade hand cut chips.

Sandwiches, both my husband and I went for the Club sandwich, which also was the most expensive at £9.75 each. They describe it as ‘slices of roast free-range Yorkshire chicken breast with grilled dry-cured bacon, tomato, lettuce and mayonnaise layered in toasted malted grain bread. The sandwiches were triple decker and cut into quarters with a cocktail stick in each quarter keeping them together and they were sat on a bed of mixed lettuce leaves. We both enjoyed these sandwiches and were so full from them and we only actually managed to eat 3 or 4 of the chips each. The cheapest sandwiches on the menu were egg mayonnaise and cress for £4.50.

They do offer desserts ranging from £5.75 for a warm treacle tart to £6.50 for a Bettys fruit sundae. We were both too full from our sandwiches (and soup in my case) we couldn’t manage a pudding as well. So I went into the shop part on the way out and bought a couple of their delicious cakes for tea later and a very small box of chocs which cost me £25.00.

Drinks wise they also offer various soft drinks including ice-cream milk shakes, there is also beer and lagers, various wines and champagnes; drinks start from £2.55 for a glass of coca-cola to £7.50 for a glass of champagne.

Our lunch, without the shop visit, but with a tip cost us a staggering £40.00, for this we had an impeccable waitress service from the staff, wonderful tasting food and a mixture of modern classic and a step back in time with the building.

As you look around the building you feel that you have stepped into the history books, from the serving staff uniforms of long black skirts and white blouses, buttoned to the neck, with a shoelace tie or a little broach with a ‘B’ for Bettys on the top buttonhole. The male staff wore black trousers, white shirt, black waistcoat, red tie and a long white apron tied around the waist (the women also wore aprons). The cafe is on three levels (not including the imperial tea rooms upstairs). On the first level in the corner is an old fashioned (but extremely in character) wooden bar area with wooden shelves across the back corner walls holding various teas and coffees. Everything about this building screamed elegance and class; even the staircase was wooden and very elegant. The next floor down was full of marble topped tables with cast iron legs, with wicker chairs to sit on. It is very light in there with the whole one wall hosting very large bay windows looking out onto the small park opposite. There are also some lovely displays of teapots throughout the ages.

There was similar seating in an area downstairs and this was also where you found the ladies and gents toilets. I used the ladies and I was totally gobsmacked, the three cubicles were to the one side of the very large room and the toilet doors were actually heavy wooden ones. In one corner there was a small play pen attached to the wall which was also next to a bin and a wooden changing table, opposite this about 15ft away there were 2 wicker chairs and a small wicker table in front of a fireplace with a large circular mirror about it. You then had four sinks each with its own oval mirror to use; this rest room was totally amazing.

Anyway, after spending £80.00 in total at Bettys today, we left only to visit again the next day for our afternoon tea in the Imperial Room upstairs.

~~The Next Day~~

Afternoon tea was started by the Duchess of Bedford in the early 19th century as she wanted to fill the gap between luncheon and dinner. We were booked in for our afternoon tea at 1200hrs (which is the time it opens); we arrived about 20 minutes early and had a little walk on the small park opposite. Once again there was only a small queue outside, but as we were booked in we didn’t need to queue we just went to the front and informed the front of house staff that we were here; we were told to go through the door marked ‘private’ and to go up the stairs, at this stage I think I should mention that wheelchair users are confined to the one floor as there are no lifts here, but they do have a disabled toilet on the same level as the shop.

Back to the imperial room, I was impressed on our first visit, but this room out did downstairs. It was very elegant, peaceful and beautiful; it was classier than downstairs with its own unique character. The walls were in cream with white cornicing, beautiful chandeliers with crystal droplets and matching wall lights, lovely large bay windows again. White wicker chairs and matching tables with a glass covering, wooden doors in a mid to dark coloured wood and wooden staircases. There was a piano to the one side and a pianist joined us just gone 1200hrs and played all through our afternoon tea.

We decided we wanted to have the same tea and coffee which we had the day before with our afternoon tea; they were happy to do this adjusting our bill at the end as the price of £19.95ea included a pot of tea room blend tea and not our choices, but the difference was only a couple of pounds.

We were shown to our table again we had a lovely window seat, our order was taken and we had lovely piano music playing in the background. Our order came, I had a silver teapot and a silver hot water pot with my tea, and we had silver knives, teaspoons and cake forks. We both got a three tier cake stand, working from the bottom up, the first plate had four quarters on, a poached salmon and prawn quarter sandwich on brown bread, roast Yorkshire beef with a mild horseradish on white bread, roast free-range chicken breast with mayonnaise on brown bread and egg mayonnaise with cress on white bread.

The next plate up had a fruit scone, with clotted cream and strawberry preserve. The top plate had three small cakes, a chocolate brownie with chocolate butter icing on the top, this was an index finger size and very, very rich. A green pistachio meringue, it was about the size of a two pence piece, but obviously a lot thicker, I didn’t like this, but hubby loved it (I don’t like nuts, except my hubby of course), finally there was a small raspberry tart, the pastry was beautiful, light and sweet, the raspberries and custard base complimented each other lovely, I actually ate mine and my hubby’s.

The service was excellent once again, the staff were very friendly and helpful they even kind took a photo of us both enjoying our afternoon tea.

I used the toilets up here as well, again it was a very large room, more modern in design than downstairs, but it did have the same marble sinks and splash backs, it also had a couple of wicker chairs with a glass table (small version of the ones in the restaurant). White wooden doors up here, Chinese design wall paper and a full length mirror, which was quite flattering, I know I have lost a couple of stone but I am still a big lady, but I kept taking pictures of myself in the mirror as I looked a lot slimmer in it, he, he.

Hubby said the gents toilets were a lot smaller and they did not have urinals, just cubicles, I think he felt a little let down that they weren’t as nice as the ladies.

We were totally bowled over by the service and our afternoon tea, which cost us £41.70 for the two of us, before we left a tip. It was very relaxing and surprisingly very filling; we both really enjoyed the experience.

~~ More Info ~~

Bettys also runs cookery classes throughout the year, these include a 10 day course, a 5 day advanced kitchen skills course, practical courses, entertaining courses, food for all, baking, desserts and puddings, demonstration courses and young chef courses. Prices vary and some of these courses sound great, but a tad out of my price range.

Bettys also hold special events throughout the year, some of these include a ‘spooky stories’ event on Sunday 30th October from 7.30pm – 10.00pm where you get ghost stories witchcraft and folk tales from Harrogate and Yorkshire, told by candlelight. This also includes a two-course set meal followed by tea or coffee and handmade chocolates @ £27.50 per person.

Bettys do hire the imperial room for special occasions like weddings, parties etc. See their website for more details. www.bettys.co.uk
Reservations are only for the Imperial room for afternoon tea, downstairs is queuing only, but as we found out sometimes you are lucky and the queues are not that long.

They do sell gift vouchers if you want to treat someone to a special day out, they also do an afternoon tea voucher.

They do cater for a gluten free diet, and they can adapt some of their recipes if you speak to your waiting staff before you order.

~~ Where is Bettys ~~

Well we visited the one in Harrogate and the address is

Parliament St
Harrogate
HG1 2QU

01423 814070

Or you could visit one of its other cafes and teashops at one of the following places.

Bettys, RHS Garden Harlow Carr, Craig Lane, Harrogate, HG3 1QB – 01423 505604

Bettys, The Grove, Ilkley, LS29 9EE – 01943 608029

Bettys, High St, Northallerton, DL7 8LF – 01609 775154

Bettys, St. Helen’s Square, York, YO1 8QP – 01904 659142

Bettys, Stonegate, York, YO1 8AS – 01904 622865

You can buy Bettys cakes and chocolates on line at www.bettys.co.uk

Visit www.bettyscookeryschool.co.uk for further details on the courses they have to offer.

According to the website, Bettys will not be opening outside of Yorkshire, but they do deliveries all over the UK, Northern Ireland, Channel Islands, and to many other countries around Europe and the rest of the world, including places as far as Australia, USA and Canada (see their website for a full list).

~~Overall~~

We had a very special weekend and parted with a lot of money at Bettys, I know a lot of you will think it was expensive, I have to say, yes it was, but it was also worth every penny we spent, not only because of the wonderful top quality food we ate, but the impeccable service we received, the beautiful building (the best one of all the 6 Bettys) and the very pleasant ambiance; we really couldn’t fault any of it. It came on top for everything (well apart from the chips), Bettys have three great qualities food, service and ambiance and out of the three we could not choose a winner as they were all brilliant. Even the staff in the shop followed the same excellence as the serving staff in the restaurant.

We both highly recommend a visit here if you are in any of the areas.

Thanks so much for reading

Arnoldhenryrufus

Lyn x

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Comments about this review »

muppetbabe 07.09.2013 00:10

Great review

malihat 10.08.2012 10:26

Super review!

danielleg1989 10.08.2012 02:20

Exceptional

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This review of Bettys & Taylors has been rated:

"exceptional" by (76%):

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  2. malihat
  3. danielleg1989

and 104 other members

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