This week we’re going upmarket in search of York’s most family-friendly hot chocolate: everyone’s favourite Swiss tea room, Bettys.
The place: Bettys York, 6-8 St Helen’s Square, York YO1 8QP (visit the website here)
The concept: This world-famous tearoom is a jewel in York’s crown. Everything about it is immaculate, from the service to the décor and the presentation of the food. It’s known for its wide selection of tea and fantastic cakes, but meals are great too. It might not be cheap, but it’ll be a visit to remember.
The Family-friendly credentials: The thought of taking children (particularly little ones) to somewhere as sedate as Bettys could have most parents running in the direction of the nearest Starbucks or Pizza Express. All that fine china, heavy cutlery and immaculate upholstery – combined with a peaceful atmosphere – might not seem like the ideal environment for families with small children. But we’re pleased to say that appearances are deceiving, and even York’s smartest tearoom extends a warm welcome to little visitors. There’s space upstairs to store buggies (folded), you can take it to your table if your little one is sleeping, or you can use the lift to take your buggy down to the lower ground café. It might not have the views of upstairs, but the downstairs cafe has some alcove tables that are great for breastfeeding discreetly or just making your children feel they aren’t on show. Baby changing facilities are good, and there’s even a potty for learners.
Staff couldn’t be keener to help families enjoy their visit, sometimes offering ‘Little Rascal’ bibs for babies to borrow and even bringing out toys to keep them occupied. Older children have a fantastic menu of their own to choose from, with smaller versions of the Bettys classics and some special items too (chicken goujons, fish and chips, welsh rarebit and much more). A chance to choose from the famous cake trolley is a dilemma every child will remember.
The hot chocolate selection: Taking the minimalist approach, there’s just one hot chocolate on offer: Betty’s Swiss chocolate sauce with hot milk, topped with whipped fresh cream and chocolate flakes (£3.60). It’s served, as you’d expect, in the kind of cup and saucer you’d love to have at home but know would last two minutes before it ended up broken. No little biscuits on the side, which means you’re justified in ordering some cinnamon toast to go with it.
The verdict: Like all things at Bettys, it’s a lovely hot chocolate. Not too sweet but, with the addition of cream and chocolate flakes, not too worthy either. A real treat in a lovely atmosphere.