Eating on European Trains – The TMR Guide

1 July 2020

Eating on European Trains – The TMR Guide

One of the great pleasures of travelling around Europe by train is the chance to enjoy a meal in the restaurant car.

Even if you are not fortunate enough to be experiencing the gastronomic splendours of luxury trains like the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, you can still experience excellent catering facilities on regular trains as you travel from city to city across the European rail network.

 

Czech Trains (Czech Republic)

Ceske Drahy, the national rail operator in the Czech Republic, is famed for its excellent buffet cars on EuroCity trains such as Prague to Berlin or Prague to Budapest. 

Dishes are created on order and you can choose whether or not to enjoy them in the restaurant car with proper cutlery and crockery, or at your seat. You can even enjoy a draught beer on most trains!  The Twitter feed @DiningCar regularly features these trains and considers them to be some of the best for food in Europe.

 

RailJet Trains (Austria)

RailJet trains are Austria’s flagship ultra-modern services linking important destinations such as Vienna, Graz, Salzburg and Innsbruck.  They also run international trains that cross the border into Hungary, Germany, the Czech Republic and Switzerland.

Each train features an on-board restaurant where travellers in any class of travel can sit and enjoy a meal, or simply take a drink back to their seat.  In First and Business classes, you can choose to have a meal at your seat with waiter-service.

An added feature is that you can log in to the RailJet’s complimentary Wi-Fi and open the ÖBB portal (railnet.oebb.at) where an option is available to order food and beverages for delivery to your seat.  Passengers can order from the online menu, entering their carriage and seat number, and then the steward arrives at your seat with your food and drink, which you settle up for on-location.

Have a look at a SAMPLE MENU 

 

Glacier Express (Switzerland)

The self-styled “World’s Slowest Express Train” plies the spectacular line between Zermatt and St Moritz – you are usually on board for between 4 to 8 hours and lunch is served in both Standard and First Class at your seat as an optional extra.  An exception is the new Excellence Class, where a 5-course meal is included in the ticket price.

Food is freshly prepared on the train and payment is taken restaurant-style, after you have eaten.  You can theoretically book a meal in advance, but we do not tend to recommend that option seeing as this gives you a restricted-choice set-menu rather than a wider choice a la carte menu.

Have a look at a SAMPLE MENU 

 

ICE Trains (Germany)

The sleek white ICE trains that ferry passengers around Germany also pay visits to neighbouring countries such as Belgium, Austria and France.

Each train has a restaurant car or bord-bistro (essentially a smaller version with mainly snacks as opposed to a wide array of hot options), sometimes including draught beer.  Passengers in First Class can order food or drink to be served at their seat by a waiter, payable locally, and passengers in either class of travel can opt to break their journey with a visit to the buffet car with its tablecloths and proper cutlery and crockery.

Have a look at a SAMPLE MENU

 

AVE Trains (Spain)

Spain’s high-speed AVE trains run throughout the country linking important destinations such as Seville, Malaga, Madrid and Barcelona.  They operate on high-speed lines which are often spectacular and dramatic as they pass through Spain’s mountainous and arid interior.

A cafe-bistro serves snacks, sandwiches, soft drinks, beer and wine to all passengers be they in Turista (Standard) or Preferente (First Class)

Passengers in Preferente (First) Class enjoy a complimentary airline-style hot tray meal served at your seat if you are travelling on a weekday, which also includes wine if after 12 noon.

 

Frecciarossa Trains (Italy)

The national rail operator in Italy is Trenitalia, and it runs its flagship Frecciarossa (Red Arrow) trains up and down its high-speed network that connects Turin, Milan, Florence, Rome and Salerno. 

Many Frecciarossa services carry a restaurant car with waiter-service, which is open to passengers in any class of travel.  A decent 3-course meal with wine or beer would be in the region of €30.  Other trains simply have a cafe-bar offering hot and cold drinks as well as snacks. 

Should you be in Business (First) Class you can order meals at your seat that you pay for locally, or in Executive (“Super-First” Class) a complimentary cold tray meal is served at your seat along with alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.

Eurostar

The only international train departing the UK is Eurostar, that connects London with the Belgian capital Brussels, and France’s capital Paris.  All passengers can go into one of the two the bar-bistros on the train and purchase snacks, sandwiches and drinks.

Eurostar’s First Class for leisure travellers is named “Standard Premier”.  This includes a free light cold meal served at your seat with an alcoholic beverage should you prefer.  It is not a spectacular dining experience by any means, but it does “do the job” and is a welcome addition to the high-speed journey.

 

Alfa Pendular Trains (Portugal)

Portugal’s tilting high-speed trains are called Alfa Pendular and connect the capital Lisbon with other important cities such as Coimbra, Porto and Faro.

A bar-bistro is available where you can perch on a stool and enjoy the produce on offer, or you are welcome to take your meal back to your seat.

Have a look at a SAMPLE MENU

 

TGV Trains (France)

Linking France’s major cities such as Paris, Marseille and Bordeaux, TGV trains are the pride of France’s rail network and also make international daily trips to cities such as Barcelona, Milan and Munich.

On board TGVs, catering options centre on the bar-bistro serving hot and cold drinks, sandwiches and some hot dishes such as quiche or lasagne, along with small bottles of wine and spirits.  There is a standing area where you can perch to eat or you are welcome to take your purchases back to your seat to consume there.

Have a look at a SAMPLE MENU

 

Thalys Trains

A private railway company operating trains between Paris, Amsterdam and Cologne, Thalys offers modern, high-speed trains that have three classes of travel: Standard, Comfort and Premium.  

Comfort and Premium have the same seat pitches and layout, the main difference being the Premium includes a free light meal served at your seat.  

All passengers are welcome to visit the cafe-bar and buy smaller items to either consume in the standing-area or take back to their seats.

Have a look at a SAMPLE MENU