Bettys – the top tea place in the land

Published by Emma Lee-Potter in on Monday 9th April 2012

When my children were younger we always spent Easter in the Lake District – an idyllic place for fresh air, bracing walks round Derwentwater and Easter egg hunts overlooking the Newlands Valley. The last Easter we spent there, two years ago, was just a few months after the terrible Lake District floods, when towns and villages were cut off from the outside world and the whole area was turned into a mud swamp. But spring seemed to mark the start of a new beginning. The sun came out, the daffodils danced in the breeze and even the sheep looked like they had a spring in their step.

One day we’ll go back, but these days Easter revolves around revision for the dreaded impending exams. My son’s up to his eyes in chemistry papers, while my daughter’s pouring over endless books about the history of American capitalism. Eeek!

But the one thing that hasn’t changed about Easter is Bettys. My in-laws live in north Yorkshire and when my husband whizzed up to see them on Good Friday he popped into Bettys in Northallerton to buy three of their amazing Easter eggs.

If you’ve never been to Bettys Café Tea Rooms you’re missing a treat. There are only six branches– one in Ilkley, one in Northallerton and two each in Harrogate and York – plus a very good mail order service. Despite countless pleas from customers, the company hasn’t opened any outside Yorkshire. Their elegant cafés, staffed by smiley waitresses in starched white pinnies, serve everything from Bettys famous Fat Rascals (a sort of giant scone with cherries and almonds) to lunch and afternoon tea. But their Easter eggs are works of art. Made from the best quality chocolate and hand decorated with delicate spring flowers or chocolate buttons, they are so stunning that I haven’t dared eat any of mine yet. I won’t hold out for much longer though!

PS. I was thrilled to see that Bettys in Northallerton has just been named the best place in Britain to have afternoon tea. The Top Tea Place accolade was given by The Tea Guild, which has been running the awards for nearly 30 years. As Irene Gorman, head of The Tea Guild, said: “The attention to detail, quality of food, lovingly prepared by their team who strive to ensure, where possible, that all food is sourced locally, and whose excellent knowledge and service of teas served, is second to none.”

The award is SO deserved. For three years we lived in a tiny village just four miles outside Northallerton and every Monday afternoon, after I’d collected my children from school, we’d drive to Bettys for tea. My son always had a tea cake, my daughter a pink fondant fancy, and we’d drink lashings of Earl Grey tea. It was perfect in every way. WELL DONE BETTYS!

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