Tag Archives: Bettys

The Scone Chronicles – 39 A Box from Bettys

I’m torn between wonder that I have got to Number 39, and a sense of lost that Covid has presented me getting to Number 70, which is where it ought to be.  I could try harder, and I didn’t even photograph the scones – just the gift box. It’s even taken me a month to get round to writing it up.

The Scones in question arrived in a small cardboard box from Bettys in Harrogate. My sister had ordered them on line as a treat for us. no particular reason, just because she’s a nice person. I will refer to it as a hamper, despite it being disguised as a cardboard box.

Bettys Hamper

Bettys Hamper – tea, scones, cake and jam

The blue box contains tea, the brown protects the jar of strawberry jam and the other two explain themselves.

The scones had been in transit for a day and it took us another day to get clotted cream(if you’re going to have afternoon tea you may as well have all the calories and fat that go with it. Despite this, and my sister’s worries, they were still fresh.

They were also very good.

Unfortunately, Bettys advertise themselves in a way that suggests they are the best in the world, and they aren’t. Generally I’d be happy with scones that were this good, but Bettys make a rod for their own back – they really need to up their game if they want to match the adverts.. See here for more comments on this, and for a comment on the dropping of the apostrophe in the name – this criticism still stands. If you can’t be bothered to put an apostrophe in your logo what else can’t you be bothered to do?

The jam was excellent, as good as any strawberry jam I’ve ever had. It’s quite runny and has an intense flavour that  grabs you under the ears (“meks yer tabs laugh” as they say in Nottingham). Top marks for that.

Same goes for the Yorkshire Tea Loaf – very good. We actually bought more scones and managed to make the contents of the box into three afternoon teas, which was even better than just having it for one. It was jam and cream scones the first day. jam and cream scone with Tea Loaf for the second day and jam scones with tea loaf the second day. It lasted well.

The tea, I’m afraid to say, was a bit overpowering for my taste, though that may be  a fault of my water rather than the tea.

It was, as I recall £16 when I looked it up, which is good value, including next day delivery. At the moment they have a Christmas themed selection which doesn’t strike me as such great value.

If you are looking for a hamper you could try Mrs Botham. Botham’s of Whitby offer great food, excellent pork pies, and a reasonably-priced selection, plus they treat apostrophes with proper respect.

Bettys Box Lid

The Scone Chronicles – Number Ten – Bettys II

After some more garden viewing (which I promise I will get round to) we had a look at the alpines, walked round the plant shop, marvelled at the woollen compost and browsed the bookshop. We probably need at least one more day here to see the rest of the garden, if not two. Fortunately, with being members, we don’t have to pay extra each time we visit.

There had been a queue out of the door of Bettys when we had arrived (the main one, not the shed in the garden) but that had gone by the time we got out of the bookshop, so I suggested a cup of tea. I knew Julia had always liked the idea of afternoon tea, and that Bettys was a famous tearoom, so what better plan could a man have to treat his wife?

We had to wait by a sign, a bit like Little Chef. Then, after a man in a suit showed us to another sign, we had to wait again. Another man in a suit showed us to a table. This was quite a cosy arrangement, with us being close enough to the neighbouring tables to join in the conversation. In fact, we were so close it was difficult to avoid. You probably know from previous posts that I’m a bit of an eavesdropper, but I like it to be an option, rather than an inevitable consequence of crowded tables.

On one side a middle-aged woman talked to her mother about Doctor Who, before going on to use a noisy game on her phone.

On the other side two women in their mid-30s discussed work, dating and drinking. I know how old they were because it came up in the conversation. If only that was the only thing I knew about them…

Eventually, the food arrived.

At £19.50 each, I was expecting something quite good. It may not be expensive compared to the £58 charged by The Ritz, but it’s still enough to pay for a few sandwiches and a bit of cake.

So, was it good?

The waitress was very pleasant. The tea (loose leaf this time) was very good. The tiny cakes were good too – a fruit tart, a rich chocolate cake and a citrus macaroon.

I liked the sandwich fillings too – cream cheese and cucumber, smoked salmon, ham and mustard and coronation chicken. I normally steer clear of coronation chicken, but I really enjoyed this one. Good flavours and plenty of filling.

The scone, though not boxed or pre-jammed, was much the same as the earlier one. Note how I have avoided the jam/cream debate by doing one of each.

So far it’s not setting my world on fire, but it’s pretty good. What spoiled it was the bread.

Two of my sandwiches were dry. One of them had the suspicion of a curl. Two of Julia’s were a touch dry too, though not as bad as mine. That’s a pretty basic error. In my naivety I’d assumed they’d be made to order but they obviously weren’t.

I was actually so annoyed by it that I nearly complained. However, Julia doesn’t like it when I complain, and it was supposed to be her treat, so I let it slide.  That doesn’t mean I can’t complain on the blog.

My verdict – if you can’t make fresh sandwiches you don’t deserve a good mark for an afternoon tea. It’s so basic it’s ridiculous not to get it right. It was excellent in parts, but that’s not what you remember. You remember the lacklustre scone, the dry bread and the feeling of being herded.

Without the dry bread you’d probably remember the excellent cake and sandwich fillings.  Though I suspect you’d still think it lacked the elegance you’d hoped for.

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Excellent cake at Bettys

It was pleasant enough, and not bad value in terms of afternoon teas, but I expected more from the Bettys hype and, to be honest, I don’t expect dried bread from anyone.

We will take a flask and sandwiches next time we visit, though we may well visit one of their other Bettys tearooms and give them another chance.

 

 

 

The Scone Chronicles – Number Nine

We went to Harlow Carr garden today – the northern garden of the Royal Horticultural Society. It was a lovely spring day and the gardens were quite crowded as every pensioner in Yorkshire seemed to be having a trip out.

I’ll cover the gardens in more detail later. For now I will talk about the first scone of our day.

The queue for scones at Bettys Tea House (which is a shed in the garden rather than the posh cafe at the entrance) contained around 30 people when we joined it. Well, when Julia joined it. I have a bad knee – I can’t queue.

(Note – Bettys was originally Betty’s but they have now become Bettys. The increasingly cavalier disregard for apostrophes seems to be mirrored by a general decline in standards and I wonder if the two may be linked.)

Despite the decline in standards and the deficiency in apostophes the staff were absolutely top class. They were quick and accurate and kept smiling as they coped with a constant queue, which averaged 20 people long for at least half an hour. My research method was to count the queue three times while I was sitting there. I can be scientifically rigorous when the occasion demands.

They served Julia with two cups of tea and two scones in boxes (with the jam and cream already applied), and only took £10 off her.

The tea was excellent, despite being a teabag in a vending cup. It probably tasted better because I was drinking it outside on a sunny spring day as a robin sang from a neighbouring tree.

Tea, scones and sunshine. Bettys, Harlow Carr

Tea, scones and sunshine. Bettys, Harlow Carr

The boxed scones were convenient, though they were still rather chilly from storage. They were also, and I’m sorry I can’t come up with another description, a bit tight in texture. Fresh home made scones have a nice open, crumbly texture. Well, mostly. I have had one or two disasters in my time. Commercial scones tend to be closer in texture and come with neat, even air holes.

So, staff, tea and surroundings – excellent. Scones were good, but not as good as the rest of the meal. I felt they weren’t quite as good as some of the other scones we’ve had this year, either. They must be doing something right because they have been going for 100 years this year.

Bettys - 100 years this year

Bettys – 100 years this year

This is not a criticism of the scones, just an observation. You can’t serve thousands of scones without making some compromises.