After a heat wave in March giving us all false hope of the start of summer, the weather has now taken a turn for the worse. With predictions of the coldest May in 100 years, our plans of picnicking in the park and sipping Pimm’s on patios may well have to make way for hiding away in the warmth of our favourite cafés. One place that always puts a smile on my face, whether rain or shine, is Betty’s Tearooms in Yorkshire.
Betty’s has played a big part in my life, witnessing many a mile stone- from taking afternoon tea with my grandparents as a little girl, to exam results day breakfasts with the girls and mums, all the way through to my 21st Birthday dinner. As well as helping celebrate the good times, Betty’s never fails to cheer me up on a gloomy day. Once a week, after a long busy day at school, my best friend Jessica and I would have two hours to kill before play rehearsals. When the said day had been a bit ‘stressful’ and we were in need of a ‘pick-me-up’, we trotted down the familiar street of Bootham for dinner at the ever-friendly Betty’s. After our favourite of Swiss Alpine Macaroni (their speciality- penne pasta with bacon, potatoes and topped with a generous helping of gruyère cheese- which makes for an incredibly rich and satisfying warmer! Their refreshing homemade lemonade accompanies this perfectly to settle the stomach!) we would leave the art deco building refreshed and ready to play whatever part it was to be that day. However we often got so carried away in our little world of ‘all things nice’ that the walk back would usually consist of a jog and the formulating of an apparently valid excuse for being late…
Right in the heart of York, this almost century-old institution irresistibly combines mouth-watering Swiss food with Yorkshire warmth and hospitality. Adding to its charm, it was also a popular haunt of American and Canadian ‘Bomber Boys’ stationed around York during the war years, and ‘Betty’s Mirror,’ on which many of them engraved their signature with a diamond pen, remains on display to this day.
‘Who is Betty?’ you may ask. Good question… the identity of Betty remains a family mystery to this day. A favourite explanation is the tale of a small girl interrupting the first Board Meeting discussing a possible name for the Tea Rooms. This small bundle of joy was, of course, Betty.
Its huge success manifests itself in the omnipresent queue that wraps around the exterior of the building, rain or shine! Though definitely worth the wait, if you don’t wish to get soaked waiting in the rain, just pop down the street to the just as lovely, if possible even more quaint, Little Betty’s.
Devoted to doing things beautifully, Betty’s is a big part of why I am extremely proud to be a Yorkshire girl!