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Breakfast on the go... in style at 100mph

By Herald Express  |  Posted: December 05, 2013

  • dining in style: The Pullman service on its way to Paddington

  • silver service: The Pullman breakfast

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T HE journey is part of the holiday, my dad would remark as I'd collapse exasperated into a chair having tried to plan a way to get from A to B without having to travel via C, D, and E.

Dad was convinced the trip to reach your final destination was part of the holiday itself. Today I think I may have finally figured out what it was he was talking about.

First Great Western's Pullman service helps start that short weekend away, or that long commute to the airport, with a certain amount of style.

The Pullman service operates on weekdays on selected trains travelling from the west country to and from London Paddington.

You can enjoy breakfast, lunch or dinner in the restaurant carriage with its wide leather seats and ample leg room.

All three menus are produced in partnership with local Dartmouth chef, Mitch Tonks.

What better way to journey through the west country than to dine on some of the finest food the area produces?

Selections from the wine list at Mitch's Seahorse restaurant in Dartmouth have been matched with the food.

As many of the ingredients as possible, from fish caught in Devon, to steak from Somerset, are sourced from local suppliers.

Departing Newton Abbot on a cold frosty morning my friend and I start our weekend away by sampling the Pullman breakfast menu.

This mobile silver service is unique to First Great Western, and although there are similar services throughout the world, there's something curiously British about sitting surrounded by attentive staff as you travel at 100mph through the countryside.

With the sun starting to peak through the morning mist, Pete the Pullman Service manager for this particular journey arrives to take our order.

The breakfast menu is a three-course affair so be prepared if your usual morning meal is normally restricted to cornflakes and a quick coffee.

Fruit juice and coffee are served without a single spillage as we wobble our way out of Exeter St David's.

This is followed by a choice of cereals, porridge or granola plus side orders of toast and croissants are offered with a selection of jams and marmalades.

Now for the main course. You have a choice of four:

The Great Westerner, a variation of the full English breakfast; kipper, smoked in Somerset, with a wedge of lemon; Pullman reserve smoked salmon and scrambled eggs, cured in Somerset to a recipe developed by chef Mitch Tonks; or scrambled eggs and grilled tomato or eggs on toast.

We both opt for the Great Westerner with scrambled eggs instead of fried.

As we wait for our order I ask Pete what the busiest service is.

The breakfast run from Plymouth on Monday and Tuesday is the answer, with the dinner service on Friday night being the busiest out of London: business commuters kicking-back before the start of a relaxing weekend.

Don't think this high speed restaurant is the preserve of first-class travellers though: anyone is welcome to enjoy the Pullman experience.

Service is on a first-come first-served basis, and during busy periods first-class passengers are given priority.

Our meal arrives along with more coffee. On china plates with the Pullman logo on the edge, our eggs are accompanied with sweetcure smoked Wiltshire back bacon, Cumberland sausage, fried bread, button mushrooms, tomato and baked beans.

At first I didn't even realise the bread was fried. It was so crisp: moist, yet not greasy.

The sausage was tasty with a pleasant herby tang. The bacon had a slightly satisfying crunch coupled with that wonderful smoky taste.

It's hard to believe all this is cooked by one chef in a small kitchen at the other end of the carriage.

The second sitting for breakfast starts at Taunton, but today's train is fairly quiet so the crew start to pack up everything and place it into wheeled crates.

Their shift is far from over: on arrival into Paddington they will load everything on to the 12.06 train and start to set up for the Pullman lunch service.

Breakfast over, we take our seats back in first class, pleasantly full after a hearty meal.

I think all other breakfasts are going to be a disappointment after this.

TRACEY RENOWDEN

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