I do like a bit of vintage crockery. My collection runs to many, many teapots, cake plates, serving platters, cups and saucers, all possible shapes of silver cutlery, and other items of inconsequence that society has since placed out of active use. I especially like it if they match. So the afternoon tea at Betty’s Café Tea Rooms in Harrogate was an absolute delight. Silver plate abounded, from the cutlery to the cake stand to the ornate tea pot. The ceramics were bone china and co-ordinated beautifully. The tablecloth and napkins were crisp and pristine. The champagne glasses sparkled.
Away from the bustle and lengthy queues of the popular downstairs café, the Imperial Room upstairs was a haven of tranquillity. Respectful chatter punctured only by the tinkling notes that drifted away from the piano, played live in the corner. A crisp glass of pink champagne set the tone for things to come. Tea was ordered from the lengthy list, all complete with provenance and detailed description. As a food nerd, for whom no detail is too much, this was fascinating. The selection and execution of the tea was treated with the utmost respect and reverence at Betty’s, and as someone who could happily live life without tea, it was still thoroughly enjoyable. I’m sure the silver teapot helped. They even gave us a little sample of each of the teas we ordered to take home and enjoy later.
As a frequently disappointed vegetarian diner, it was a relief to be asked at the beginning of the meal if I had any dietary requirements and then be presented with a fully tailored menu. These touches do not go unnoticed. The amuse bouche – or appetiser as it is called in Yorkshire – was a delicate avocado crème with a refreshing tomato salsa. My big-flavour palate wanted more garlic (or possibly just some garlic?) and a touch more salt, but in all honesty that probably wouldn’t have been appropriate for either the champagne or the subtle flavours that were to follow. Next came the savouries, a tiny spring onion and herb frittata and a swirl of tomato roulade.