I do love train travel, and some film or other in the eighties planted an obsession with the Orient Express and a journey somewhere romantic on it in me. Train travel is my favourite way of getting anywhere (tube and London commuter lines being the very large and glaring exception).
I had no idea that the Orient Express actually ran in London. Orient put me off really, I wasn’t expecting it to include Kent. However, day trips operate that take you out of London and back again, often partnering with upmarket hotels (
like The Goring or The Ritz in London) so that you can extend your luxurious experience.
I was invited to try the Christmas Lunch, a 4 and a half hour experience on a Pullman steam train, offering 5 course with champagne and wine.
We were greeted by a very funny and entertaining group of actors, dressed Great Gatsby style, who travelled throughout the train singing and chatting throughout. Normally, I wouldn’t buy into this at all but in this setting it was actually really fun and charming. A brass quintet played us onto the train, and it wasn’t long until we were whizzing past iconic Battersea Power Station to tour the surrounding countryside.
The Christmas Menu, devised by head chef Matthew Smith, was very enjoyable and steered pleasantly from the traditional Turkey & Ham.
Roasted Stuffed Quail, Chicken and Chestnut Sausage served with creamed leek and broad beans, caramelised swede and roasted potatoes with a red wine jus was a welcome change from Turkey, very moist and full of flavour.
Dessert was a Trio of Orient Express Desserts – Christmas pudding served with a brandy sauce, apple and mincemeat pastry stack and Cranberry junket. I particularly enjoyed the cranberry junket. There was also a selection of very good cheeses.
It’s not cheap at £290, you would get a 3* meal at The Fat Duck for the same price. What you are buying here is the experience not a restaurant meal. It is fun, nostalgic, romantic and unique, a nice gift for that someone special should you have that kind of cash to spare.
If you’re interested, upcoming Christmas trips are:
14 Dec 2010 Christmas Dinner leaving from Birmingham, Coventry – £195
15 Dec 2010 Chatsworth House at Christmas from London Victoria- £350
17 Dec 2010 Christmas Lunch from London Victoria – £290
17 Dec 2010 Christmas Lunch & a night at The Ritz from London Victoria – £490
There are also New Year’s Eve trips, Valentine’s specials and trips for those in places like Manchester to London’s West End for a show.
Full details on: http://www.orient-express.com/