Afternoon tea at Bettys Café Tea Rooms was one of the few things on our “must-do” list on a recent visit to York (England). The other attractions on our list were the York Minster and the City walls. Our visit to Bettys Cafe was especially memorable as they were celebrating their centenary year. They have been in business from 1919 to 2019! We had Centenary Afternoon Tea at Bettys Café Tea Rooms in York.
Situated midway between London and Edinburgh, the City of York is the perfect place to make a stopover. This breaks up the otherwise long journey into two segements of train rides of about 2.5 hours each. The York train station is close to the city centre. The walk to Bettys Cafe will take only about 15 minutes. It is possible to visit York as a day trip from London. But a short stay of one or two nights is probably better. The city gets less crowded in the late afternoon. We stayed one night, which allowed us to take in the sights and to eat at a leisurely pace.
There are quite a number of attractive places in York for afternoon tea. Among our shortlisted entries were the Countess of York carriage at the National Railway Museum and the Grand Afternoon Tea served in The Rise Restaurant of the Grand Hotel.
Centenary Afternoon tea at Bettys Café Tea Rooms
We only had time and space for one afternoon tea and settled on Bettys. It is located in the heart of York – very convenient and easy to find. We were there at around 2 pm and joined a short queue. We did not have to wait long before we were shown to our table on the ground floor. Here is a picture of the Centenary Afternoon Tea menu as well as a page from the regular Bettys Café Tea Rooms menu.
The tables at Bettys Café Tea Rooms are close to one another and there was a constant queue. But we did not get any sense of congestion or impatience on the part of either customers and staff. It was a pleasant environment. Our server was all smiles and cheerful. We decided on a Centenary tea for one person (£19.95) and a toasted currant teacake (£2.95).
The food was served on a three-tier tea stand and came with a pot of tea. We ordered a separate pot of tea with our teacake. The first impression of the food when they arrived was positive. Being seated at the window helped as the natural light made everything look even better. The silverware felt and looked wonderful.
There are some rules of etiquette surrounding the enjoyment of afternoon tea. We learnt a few things from the Michelin Guide website. For example, afternoon tea is quite different from high tea. The latter is a more substantial working-class meal served on a ‘high’ table at the end of the workday. Afternoon tea on the other hand typically takes place mid-afternoon when dainty food is served on low tables.
We started with the sandwiches – cucumber, dill & cream cheese; Coronation Yorkshire chicken; ham & wholegrain mustard; Scottish smoked salmon. Those simple looking sandwiches tasted delicious. I am not sure if it is because of the quality of ingredients or the Bettys cafe setting (probably both). They left us longing for more.
The sultana scone with strawberry preserve and clotted cream was next. These were good but not the best that we tried in York. The ones they served us at the hotel that we stayed at was better. We will tell you about that in our next post.
A trio of sweet pastries – chocolate cube, lemon tart and Endagine cake rounded up the Centenary afternoon tea set. They were petite and easily downed in a bite or two.
We were also pleased with our separate order of toasted currant and sultana teacake. It seemed more like bread than cake. But what mattered was its very pleasant taste and texture. We think that the other items in the Bettys Café Tea Rooms menu are certainly worth exploring in greater detail on a subsequent visit to York, England. We had some initial hesitation about Bettys because of its popularity. Was it a tourist trap? Our fears were unfounded. It is a lovely place for tea in York.
Overall Rating: 4 TOPs
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The Ordinary Patrons | Real Dining Experience of Ordinary People
an independent Singapore food blog