Monday, 22 December 2014

Breakfast aboard the luxurious British Pullman train

I was recently lucky enough to spend a day aboard the Belmond British Pullman - the sister train of the Orient Express.

This historical first-class train has been preserved to immaculate standards and now takes passengers around the country on day out excursions or luxury weekends away.

For my mother's 60th birthday we treated ourselves to a day trip to Oxford for a lunch at Raymond Blanc's Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons. The journey from London Victoria takes around three hours each way, but as I quickly learnt as I sunk into my beautiful Art Deco velvet armchair was that it's all about the experience of travelling in style rather than arriving at your destination as quickly as possible.

A photo posted by Caroline Baldwin (@breakfastatcarolines) on

On entering our carriage - which was named Cygnus with its very own personality and decor- we were greeted by smartly dressed stewards who stowed our coats and bags on the brass luggage racks, and showed us to our seats. We had a table for two with crisp white linens, set with duck egg blue china and pristine silverware ready for breakfast to be served.

The Art Deco flourishes transported us to a grander year gone by.  And I could almost imagine the ladies in flapper dresses and pearls, sashaying across the thick carpets to jazz music, illuminated by the the maroon velvet lamps on each table.

We settled down to a Bellini cocktail in cut crystal glasses while the train crawled out of London and strolled past the English countryside - trust me, it doesn't usually take three hours to get to Oxford on a First Great Western. By 10am we had sunk three Bellinis and I was hoping breakfast wasn't too far away, but I wasn't to worry.

We started with a selection of Danish pastries, followed by a fresh fruit salad, while teas and coffees were poured from steaming silver pots. Next was a fresh bread roll and a selection of jams and marmalade, but this was just the warm up to the main event. 

Soon after we were served hot buttery muffins and presented with creamy chive scrambled eggs, smoked salmon and caviar - all by silver service. And it was the scrambled eggs which was the star of the show, melt-in-your-mouth, rich, and indulgent - what more do you want aboard a first-class carriage?

Now I've had my fair share of posh breakfasts, but while it was a classic and - caviar aside - nothing extraordinarily fancy, this was probably the most memorable and decadent mornings of my life. 

And not forgetting when we arrived at our destination we had to manage a three course meal cooked by Mr Raymond Blanc himself - he even came out to say hello afterwards! After a few delicious foodie hours and more wine, we were bundled back on the train to enjoy the leisurely three hour journey back where we were served cheese and biscuits, as well as dessert accompanied by champagne and port.

And a very Happy Birthday it was. Magnifique!