With ingredients sourced along the line, fine dining on the First Great Western Pullman train is something to get on board with
Train food is often known for being a bit off the rails. But it's not all soggy sarnies and overpriced cups of tea you know ...
Award-winning restaurateur Mitch Tonks has launched a new menu for First Great Western Pullman trains. Now as you rattle through the West Country you can scoff fresh Devon scallops, premium fillet steak and even sip on a glass of Cornish wine.
Sounds peachy. But is it worth the ride? We asked Mitch a few questions:
Mitch, why dine on a train?
For me it brings back memories of being a boy with my parents. It was such a treat – proper bacon, starched white linen and of course the view. Also it evokes that bygone era of elegance, luxury and style. It's one of the greatest pleasures in the world.
And the menu – what's so special?
It's British, traditional and approached simply; Devon scallops grilled in their shells, Dover sole, the best fillet steak. All the ingredients are sourced using local produce along the line so you can look out of the window and think, the steak on my plate came from these fields, or the scallops from those seas.
Is it pricey?
You have to travel first class to book a table. If you turn up on the day though with a standard ticket and there's space in the dining carriage, you can simply pay for what you eat. Breakfast and brunch menus are both £18 and there's lots to choose from.
How do the chefs do it?
In a very small space with limited equipment. They've got four hobs, one grill and a small oven to play with so it's a bit like a domestic kitchen ... only rocking from side to side at 125mph!
And if you had to pick one dish?
The Pullman reserve smoked salmon – it’s from my own suppliers, Brown and Forrest who start off with the best fish and make it extra smoky.
Are soggy sarnies over then. Is this the future of train food?
Fine dining's obviously a big treat and it’s part of the Pullman's heritage – I think maybe people will start dining on trains instead of going to posh restaurants! Buffet cars are improving too though. First Great Western offer as much local produce in their standard buffet car as possible, like hand-raised pies from Somerset or Cornish shortbread.