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Bettys Café Tea Rooms, 1 Parliament Street, HARROGATE, HG1 2QU [Map]
There are obviously a tremendous variety of places where top quality real ale is available and this is clearly one of the most unusual. I must admit though that Bettys doesn't serve it in its draught form but then again Betty's is one of the most respected tea rooms in the country and won the coveted British Tea Council Top Tea Place of the Year in 1994. This is the only entry in this guide that does not sell draught real ale. It does however offer two bottled ales from the Black Sheep and Theakstons breweries at a reasonable price.
There are a chain of about 6 Bettys in the area but this was the first opened by Fredrick Belmont in 1919. He was a young confectioner from Switzerland and the tearoom, which was then situated across the road in what is now a Jaegar shop, soon gained an excellent reputation which it has never lost. The company is still owned by the direct descendents of Frederick's family though there is now as much Yorkshire in the blood as Swiss.
The tearoom which is split into two levels, an upper area offering views across a large park area, and a lower floor with marquetry pictures hanging on the walls. They were made in Alsace by Charles Spindler using inlaid pieces of wood and are worth seeing. Bettys is obviously most famous for its huge range of teas and excellent service. They also offer a wide range of dishes using only the finest of ingredients. The tearoom still has its own bakery on site and all the cakes, pastries etc and meals are all freshly prepared on the premises and the service is second to none. If you're there between 6 and 9pm you'll be able to hear the café pianist playing! Certainly an usual place to add to this guide but its always good to include something very much out of the ordinary. Quality is clearly of upmost importance here and its reassuring to know that traditional Yorkshire bitter is regarded as such though I must admit I still prefer a pot of tea with my slice of Yorkshire Curd Tart!
For more information about Bettys you can visit their website by clicking here.