While we can’t all agree whether the jam or cream goes first, we can all agree that a freshly made scone is a thing of joy. Done well, the combination of humble ingredients casts a spell of happiness and nostalgia unlike any other baked good, and York just happens to have an entire tearoom devoted to this iconic British classic.
Nestled on the corner of York’s most magical street, Parlormade Cafe and Scone House looks as though it’s been transported straight from Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley. Without a straight line or double-glazed pane in sight, it’s one of York’s quirkiest buildings which, in a city brimming with weird and wonderful constructions, is saying something. Undoubtedly charming and characterful, access is an issue: there’s no way we would have attempted it with a buggy and it’s impossible for wheelchairs (the downsides of a historic city). If you can’t make it in, it’s worth knowing that you can get cream teas to take away and enjoy at home.
Our buggy days are over, so we headed along to Parlormade with two of our scone-loving children to check it out early one Sunday morning. This place is popular, and people like to linger over their cream tea, so we were lucky to be able to squeeze onto a table in the room at the top. Top tip: try to go when it’s less busy, even if that means you’re eating scones at 10am (we’re not here to judge).
Once you’re in, though, you’ll soon realise it was worth the effort. Downstairs the shelves groan with freshly made scones of all flavours, the sweet scent drifting up to the top of the medieval building. There’s a cosy, bustling atmosphere and lots of interesting things to look at, from pineapple light fittings to eccentric art and one of the best views of Shambles Market.
Unsurprisingly, the menu is heavy on scone-based options, from the standard plain and fruit through to blueberry and lemon, raspberry and coconut and, if you’re not in the mood for something sweet, cheese and chive. We opted for a fruit scone and two brownies, with a pot of tea and a couple of lemonades, delivered quickly by one of the friendly staff.
Our girls were very happy with their brownies, but the star of the show was the oven-fresh scone which was unbelievably good. We’d thought the ones we make at home were pretty decent, but this was leagues apart in flavour and texture. It’s nothing fancy, of course, but that’s the beauty of the scone. Get it right, slather it with cream and jam, and it’s heaven on a plate. Dumbledore couldn’t conjure up a better start to the day.
Parlormade, 1 Little, Shambles, York YO1 7LY