The first time I heard the name Wee Betty’s, I thought it sounded like a good name for a day care or a store selling petite clothing.
Instead Wee Betty’s is a cafe in Jacksonville that is quite delightful.
The establishment is in a wee section of a wee building on John Hardin Drive that also houses a used car lot. It was a bit confusing at first trying to figure out exactly where it was. I knew it was on the access road near a seafood buffet, and thankfully my son spotted the wee sign before I drove right by.
There is adequate parking along the side of the building. Customers enter through the wee dining room and seat themselves at one of the seven or so tables. At the back of the room is the checkout counter and shelves of imported foods for sale, and the wee kitchen is hidden behind a back wall.
We sat near a window and perused the menu, trying to take in the names and descriptions of unfamiliar items. We were greeted by a woman with a delightful lilting accent. I would have paid her to read the Jacksonville phone book just to hear it longer.
I’d checked out their menu on Facebook and knew I wanted to try the Full Irish Breakfast ($9.50). Served from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday and 11 a.m to 1 p.m. Sunday, it comes with bangers, bacon, eggs, potato scones, black or white pudding, Heinz beans, toast and choice of tea or coffee.
We also decided to share a few other things, and ordered a Sausage Roll ($2), Scotch Pie with Beans ($5.50) and a Bridle ($4.50). They don’t have a soda-fountain style drink machine, so their drinks are sold in cans or bottles from coolers in the room. We both had bottled Gold Peak tea ($1). I had the diet version and was pleasantly surprised at how tasty it was, even with no calories. Their other beverages include coffee, hot tea, water, Capri Sun, ginger beer and Irn Bru, a Scottish carbonated soft drink blended from 32 flavors.
It wasn’t long before there were four tables of diners and the wee space got a bit tighter, but it was still comfortable and easy to converse with my dining companion. Soon the food was brought out and we gazed in awe because it looked delicious.
The Irish Breakfast comes with standard eggs and toast, but then it goes into the more exotic. I wasn’t positive what bangers were exactly and made the mistake of doing a Web search for the word. A banger is a type of sausage that gets its name from the its tendency to burst or “bang” open during the frying process. Wee Betty’s version was flavorful and tender, and the texture was along the line of a bratwurst.
I was also not familiar with the black or white pudding so they let me have a bit of both. I was expecting the American type pudding made with milk and sugar, but that wasn’t what I got, and I was rather glad. A white pudding is made with things like pork meat and fat, bread and oatmeal that’s formed into the shape of a large sausage. Black pudding is made with the addition of animal blood. My plate held two slices that were sliced and fried, and I was amazed at how good it was. It didn’t have a pronounced flavor of any one seasoning or meat, so it went well with the other things on the plate. It’s not something I’d want to eat every day, but I’ve sampled it and now I can move on to new things.
The beans, which came with several of our items, were standard, pretty much like pork and beans, so I concentrated mainly on the other foods. When I saw that the breakfast included potato scones, I automatically thought of the flaky thick triangle-shape version popular now, but I was wrong on that count too. Potato, or tattie scones as they are called in some parts of Scotland, are unleavened and resemble a thick tortilla. They are made in big sheets and cut into smaller triangles for serving, and aren’t overly seasoned so they’d do well with savory or sweet toppings.
The sausage roll was made with Scottish sausage wrapped in puff pastry, and it was about the size of a large hot dog. The sausage of ground meat isn’t seasoned like our traditional American version. But it was tasty and the pastry was golden brown and crispy.
The Scotch Pie was a lovely little double-crust meat pie about 4 inches in diameter. It was almost too cute to cut into. The filling was savory and seasoned well, and the pastry, which isn’t a traditional butter version, was firm and substantial enough that the pie didn’t fall apart when cut open.
The Bridle was another treat that we were glad we shared. It’s a triangle-shaped puff pastry filled with beef, onion and gravy. The outside was crisp and the beef concoction inside had a thick texture that didn’t run out onto the plate, so it was easy to eat, even with bare hands.
We did eventually leave with a couple of small carryout boxes, the contents of which my son devoured later.
The menu also lists light snacks like Toast ’n’ Tea, grilled cheese, fruit scones, and a variety of sandwiches that include roast beef; ham; and egg, tuna or chicken salad. A Shepherd’s Pie special is offered on Tuesdays and Wednesdays ($4.50 for dine in, $6 for takeout). Thursday through Saturday the specials include Fish ’n’ Chips ($11.95), and Chips ’n’ Curry Sauce or Chips ’n’ Gravy ($4.50). And when they say chips, think french fries, not Lay’s.
We’ll return to the warm and inviting restaurant - named for the young lady’s grandmother Betty, who was, I think she said, 4 feet 9 inches tall.
Wee Betty might not be wee for long - I heard they are considering moving to a larger space in Jacksonville.
Wee Betty’s Cafe
Address: 1336 John Hardin Drive, Jacksonville Hours: 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Saturday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday Cuisine: Irish, Scottish, Welsh and English Alcoholic beverages: No Carryout: Yes Wheelchair accessible: Yes Credit Cards: AE, MC, V Phone: (501) 765-3531 facebook.com/WeeBettysCafe
Weekend, Pages 31 on 02/27/2014
Print Headline: Wee Betty’s is a good bet