These days when I travel home to England to visit my family and old friends, I always like to be a tourist in my own country and will plan day trips or overnight stays at places I remember from my childhood. One of them this time around was the City of York where I remember going to for a school trip.
York is steeped in centuries of wonderful history and has a rich heritage dating back to the Roman era. Absolutely stunning old English architecture abounds here and you cannot help but stare at the buildings and tiny cobbled streets in absolute awe. These days York has become more of a tourist town but was once known as the confectionary capital of the UK.
This brings me to an absolute delight of a find. Right in the center of York in St. Helen’s square is a gorgeous and elegant looking cafe tea shop called Bettys. We strolled passed it on our way to dinner and thought we could stop by on the way back to the hotel for dessert.
I was looking on line at the history of Betty’s and thought I would quote it verbatim… “In 1936 the founder of Bettys, Frederick Belmont, travelled on the maiden voyage of the Queen Mary. He was so enthralled by the splendour of the ship that he commissioned the Queen Mary’s designers and craftsmen to turn a dilapidated furniture store into his most sophisticated branch yet – an elegant café in the land-locked location of St Helen’s Square. Today, as you sit in Bettys surrounded by huge curved windows, elegant wood paneling and ornate mirrors, you can almost imagine yourself aboard a luxury liner.”
The café tea room is truly splendid and beckons you in with a warm glow of amber lighting and friendly, smiling staff. Tiny round tables decorated with pretty little fresh daisies and white wicker back chairs are surrounded by potted large plants and high shelves adorned with old teapots.
We arrived around 9.30pm when the restaurant was relatively quiet and it was easy to get a table. A pianist at the grand piano playing old tunes quietly entertained the customers. Tourists and locals alike sat deep in quiet conversation at their tables enjoying dinner and desserts while we were escorted to our little café table.
Looking at the menu I couldn’t help but smile… this was so very British and lovely. Our waiter came over dressed in a clean, crisp white shirt and black apron to take our order. We only wanted to see the dessert trolley. As they wheeled over an array of scrumptious delights our eyes widened and the fact that we were both full from dinner faded away. I was immediately drawn to the strawberry shortcake with butter cream… oh my. My sister also picked the same dessert. Instead of tea or coffee we both ordered a glass of wine.
The dessert was everything I had hoped it would be. Fresh, sweet strawberries filled flaky soft pastry mixed with whipped cream and a side of butter cream that made you speechless. I couldn’t have been happier.
We stayed for a while and enjoyed the ambiance of the restaurant. Listening to the pianist play softly, looking around at the fun teapots and eventually taking a stroll through their shop of coffees, teas and cakes to take away.
I must go back to Bettys, which also offers full meals, afternoon tea as only the British can do it and of course simply dessert. What a wonderful way to end our day.