East Midlands Trains and its predecessors have always operated services that provide an at-seat dining service, most well known, perhaps, for their breakfast service. They operate around 5 services southbound on a weekday and 2 on a Saturday which have this service. In order to guarantee yourself breakfast, it is necessary to purchase a “First +Breakfast” ticket which is available on advance purchase but with no railcard discounts. If you have a standard first class ticket, it will be necessary to see if there is any availability of stock by asking the senior customer host.
The breakfast is served at seat and is normally ready for you when you board, as “First +Breakfast” offers specific seat reservations in the locations where the breakfast is set up for use. In my experience, as I did not have a Breakfast supplement I had to move seats in order to get my food. In a change from the typical offering by East Midlands Trains at a weekend, you are able to receive tea, coffee and a choice of apple or orange juice at seat with the service for free.
Upon ordering, you are brought a selection of toasts and butters along with a small cup of juice. I have to say, that it only took 5 or so minutes after ordering for my food to arrive, fully prepared. A plate is brought to your table and shortly after you are then presented with the components of the meal which is plated in front of you. It is a nice touch that copies the Restaurant services of East Coast and First Great Western when they bring vegetables, etc, around.
The dish typically consisted of a sausage, a few hashbrowns, egg (to your choosing – although I wasn’t offered a choice), a few rashers of bacon, fried tomatoes and mushrooms. They are all efficiently cooked and none were erring on either side of raw or burnt, which is a nice thing to see on, for the railways, a moderately priced at-seat dining meal. For comparison, First Great Western price in at around £7.50 and East Coast at £12. It is obvious, to me, that East Midlands are attempting to directly compete with East Coast with the service – although East Coast is cheaper if you take advantage of the 20% catering vouchers (i.e. 2 £5 vouchers cost £8, and an extra £2) bringing it in at only £10.
Shortly after I completed my meal, tea and coffee was brought around and were replenished throughout the rest of the journey down to London St Pancras. Even though they are quick to supply you with extra parts of the ‘experience’, so to speak, they were rather slow to take away plates – it took nearly 20 minutes for my main plate to be taken!
Although the quality of the food was excellent, the service was not overly attentive – although this could well be a Saturday only “thing” as that is when I had the meal. Nevertheless, the quality of the food makes up for the service and therefore I can only recommend this.
The Great British Breakfast on EMT is available for £11.