Since getting married in 2015, Mrs Fork and I have made a habit of going away for our wedding anniversary, taking in New York during a belated honeymoon in our first year then Lisbon last year. This time we had to set our sights a little closer to home thanks to the arrival of Baby Fork six weeks previously, who has yet to voice any particular opinion on international travel. With that in mind, we settled on a night in the beautiful village of Swainby, from which we took advantage of a family babysitter to leave Betty (Baby Fork) and pop for lunch in nearby Northallerton.
Having divested ourselves of responsibility for Betty for a couple of hours, we thought it was only appropriate to visit her namesake for lunch when we walked past Bettys and realised there was, unusually, no queue. We were only after a light lunch so didn’t linger over the menu while we enjoyed English Breakfast and Darjeeling tea from suitably well polished teapots and opted for a couple of classic Betty’s dishes that reflected the brand’s Swiss heritage to some degree: rosti and rarebit.
Service was as brisk and effective as one would expect of Betty’s: never feeling hurried; handles of teapots pointed in the direction of the recipient; and cutlery was all beautifully aligned by the classically dressed server. Our dishes arrived quickly and looked suitably indulgent with plenty of rich cheese on offer. Rosti is far more labour intensive than I can generally be bothered with at home so I was looking forward to this and, thankfully, had my expectations matched. It was packed with raclette and cooked well, offering plenty of crisped bits of cheesy potato around a soft, moist centre. The Yorkshire rarebit was successful and cheesy in equal measure. Garnished with a couple of halves of a tomato, it was really all about the oozy cheese that completely enveloped the bread. Betty’s have been knocking this sort of thing out since long before I moved to York and that experience shows.
Having finished our lunch, we made our way back to the street past the queue that had formed while we ate and now extended further than the building was able to contain. Before leaving town we hit another Northallerton institution to stock up on treats for the evening. Lewis & Cooper is a treasure trove of culinary treats in which it’s possible to easily lose a great deal of time and money. When we’d grabbed enough cured meat, cheeses, patés and snacks to fortify us for the foreseeable future, we made tracks back to Swainby to rejoin little Betty and contemplate the treats from more senior Betty’s.