Afternoon tea in the Belmont Room at Betty’s of York is a must-have experience when visiting this wonderful historical city in northern England. Built in 1919, the room was named after the cafe’s founder, the Swiss baker and merchant Fredrick Belmont.
This is the place where tourists come in droves to purchase a freshly baked “Fat Rascal,” a large cookie-like scone with nuts and dried fruit in the shape of a smiling face on the top. The famous scone was developed during the 19th century and was even mentioned in on of Charles Dickens’ novels. It’s easy to see why people line up to get one, as the smiley face really gives the scone a lot of personality.
While you can have an informal afternoon tea in the bakery’s adjacent cafe located on the street level, a more formal afternoon tea is served in the upstairs Belmont Room. The room’s wood paneled walls decked out with gold-rimmed mirrors give the room the feel of an early 20th century cruise ship, many of which were decorated in the Art Deco style. As it turns out, Mr. Belmont hired the same architects who designed the RHS Queen Mary ocean liner, one of the most famous examples of Art Deco style, to create the elegant design for his stylish tearoom.
Betty’s afternoon tea comes with three courses, including a savory course with tea sandwiches and two different kinds of savories, scones with clotted cream and jam and a plate of house made desserts.
The savories were very substantial and had a surprising amount of variety, including a small terrine of shrimp salad with butter lettuce and red micro greens and the standout, a puff pastry tart filled with roasted eggplant, tomatoes, red bell peppers and mozzarella.
The tea sandwiches included a roasted red bell pepper and basil with smoked paprika aioli; smoked Scottish salmon with cream cheese on a mini croissant and an open faced chicken salad sandwich with romaine lettuce and Parmesan cheese which tasted a Caesar salad on a crostini. I really loved the red bell pepper with basil sandwich. It was nice to have such vibrant flavors in an afternoon tea sandwich. The chicken salad crostini was also lovely, with a sizable amount of chicken on top.
The scones came in two selections, one plain and one with sultanas. I particularly like the ones with the tiny raisins, especially when slathered with clotted cream and strawberry jam.
Betty’s is known for being a purveyor of fine teas, which made choosing from their long list of teas difficult, I ended up choosing a fragrant rose petal black tea, which I enjoyed so much that I bought a tin downstairs before leaving to take home with me.
The desserts were beautiful and elegantly plated, including a chocolate mousse dome cake; lemon and orange macarons and a green apple tart that looked and tasted like a real candied apple.
As a nice gesture, Betty’s sends their guests home with a small box of treats from their bakery downstairs.
Even though you will be plenty full when you finish your afternoon tea, it’s fun to have a look at the dessert case downstairs, filled with beautiful little tarts, cakes and plates of freshly baked scones. You can also pick up a tin of loose leaf tea there as well.
I really enjoyed my afternoon tea at Betty’s, from the delicious scones to the never-ending pots of tea. It was a relaxing break from touring the famous sites in York. I highly recommend afternoon tea in the Belmont Room at Betty’s, one of the most quintessentially British experiences you can have while visiting York. Book ahead as the tearoom fills up quickly, especially on weekends. And don’t forget to try a fat rascal while you’re there!
Find out more about Betty’s of York here.
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