Some have beautiful settings but disappointing food. Others have gorgeous food but surly staff. A few manage to get the setting, staff and sustenance just right. But the best? It's right here in the Yorkshire Dales and it’s still a bit of a secret pleasure: Betty’s Vintage Hut.
Owned and run by Ann, it's in a hidden spot in lesser-known Littondale. It's even more special because it's not open all the time - just for advance bookings.
Betty was Ann’s grandmother, who taught Ann to bake when she was four. Betty inspired her to go on to train as a chef and have her own café until quite recently.
Supposedly retired, Ann realised that she isn’t actually very good at sitting still. She bought the shepherd’s hut so she can cater for small pre-booked groups of up to 6 - 12 people. She currently offers afternoon teas but is thinking about doing some other evening events, perhaps taking advantage of the wide windows in the hut looking out on to the fields and dark starry skies. There’s a wood burner in the corner of the hut so it will be delightfully cosy in winter.
Ann bakes for most of the day to create an extraordinary range of sandwiches, savoury tarts and quiches, with sumptuous and creative cakes and pastries. She makes everything herself and constantly invents new treats. On the day we visited Ann was trying out her new gin and tonic tart – delicious.
Some of the afternoon teas I’ve tried feel a bit rationed. You glance at the plate and instantly calculate stomach space for exactly 3 small sandwiches and 3 cakes. That's not at all the case in Betty's Vintage Hut. Ann’s afternoon tea is incredibly generous. I don't think any of us have a clue how many tiny sandwiches, savoury delicacies and wonderful cakes we consumed. My daughter has a lot of different food allergies so she's used to sitting quietly or eating a couple of bland things while everyone else tucks in, but Ann had asked plenty of questions and double-checked detail, and then provided a special cake stand of treats.
When we first saw the table we were all delighted, tucking in, sampling and exclaiming as we went, ‘have you tried…’, 'Oh, this one is especially good...' Then delight turned to concern – how could we possibly finish everything? Ann reassured us, she had boxes ready for anything we didn’t eat.
A lot of places have jumped on the vintage bandwagon and it can feel a little tired and overdone. I’ve had afternoon tea in one place that had me looking round for dead bodies it felt so musty. This is the opposite. There are vintage touches such as the embroidered table cloth and tea service, but it isn’t fussy, keeping the overall feeling fresh and clean. The afternoon tea is incredibly good value: just £15 per person. This is going to become a very popular spot so think up a celebration (just admitting to gluttony would be fine too) and book as soon as you can via Betty’s Vintage Hut or call 07990 584340.