Breakfast, Brunch, Out of London

Bettys, York

Bettys York

We had a week off and headed up North to visit some friends and meander around the Lakes – first stop, Bettys Tea Rooms in York. If you haven’t come across Bettys before, this is one for the Must Visit List. Founded almost 100 years ago by a Swiss pastry chef and chocolatier who got on the wrong train and ended up in Yorkshire, Bettys has a richly deserved reputation for doing tea and cake the proper way. We, of course, went for brunch.

Brunch at Bettys

As a fan of the English language I do my best to get my words in the right order and my apostrophes in the correct place. So shouldn’t it be ‘Betty’s’, I wondered? Having checked it out, apparently the apostrophe went missing in the 60s and has stayed that way ever since, so who am I to quibble? Bettys it is!

The interior of the café is stunning, inspired by the rooms on the Queen Mary liner where Frederick Belmont and his wife Claire had been on the Maiden Voyage in 1937, the year before the York tea rooms opened. The waiting staff are immaculately dressed and well trained to make guests feels special but not intimidated. There is an attention to detail at Bettys that we wish more restaurants and cafés would adopt – it really does make the world of difference. Simple touches like the doily in the saucer to stop drips and the rough hewn cane sugar instead of the ubiquitous sachets (a pet hate for A.), don’t cost a lot and add a degree of elegance.

Onto the food, and A. was in the mood for a healthy breakfast and went for the Bircher Muesli with mixed berries. In holiday mood I indulged in the Swiss Breakfast Rösti made with grated potato, Gruyère cheese  and served with dry-cured bacon and a poached egg.  A. said the muesli was delicious and it certainly looked good, but I think I detected more than a hint of food envy from the moment my delicious plateful arrived.

Brunch at Bettys Tea Room, a fruit bircher with a cup of coffee

There was plenty of choice on the menu, from fruit and yogurt through to a full English breakfast, kedgeree and a whole assortment of eggs. A. added toast to his order and it was served in buttery fingers on a silver cake stand. How wonderful!

Tea and coffee were well presented, and A. had a cafetière of World’s Best cofee, a medium roasted blend of Kenyan and South American beans and said that it lived up to it’s name. There was a wide selection of tea on offer, and I went for Bettys Breakfast Tea, a strong, single origin Golden Tippy Assam from the Brahmaputra Valley.  I couldn’t claim to be a tea connoisseur, but I know what I like and this was refreshing and went perfectly with brunch.

Bettys isn’t cheap by any means, and our brunch totalled almost £30 but the whole point of eating here is to enjoy the whole experience and we think it was worth splashing out for a special occasion (and we seem to be able to create a lot of those!). This was our sixteen month anniversary so we felt it was a date to be marked in style.


We had a chat about our visit on the next leg of our journey, the drive from York to Lancaster. Podcasting whilst driving may need some practise!




We loved the whole experience and if you get the chance we would urge you to go along to Bettys too. We’ll certainly be back for a return match, hopefully for the famous Lady Betty afternoon tea.

Loo Review (PMC Rating): ★★★★★ Down a sweeping staircase and as well presented as the tea rooms. Take a moment to check out the mirror in the hallway that was signed by local airmen during WWII.

Bettys, 6-8 St. Helen's Square, York, YO1 8QP

Monday, April 30th 2018

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