National Express East Coast Catering

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ainsworth74

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Aha! Got one! March 2011 the menu looks like this from the cafebar:

HOT EATS

CHICKEN KORMA

Succulent pieces of fresh marinated chicken breast in an authentic creamy coconut sauce. Served with Basmati rice. £6.50

(V) VEGETABLE CURRY
A delicious combination of mixed vegetables in a creamy tomato and onion sauce with coriander. Served with Basmati rice. £6.50

BEEF LASAGNE
Egg pasta, layered with beef mince ragu, topped with a Béchamel sauce and sprinkling of Cheddar cheese. Served with side garnish.

So looks like my memory was spot on. It was the chicken korma and it was served on proper crockery.
 
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35B

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Yes, that very much rings true. Going north I can understand crews being reluctant to let space to std class immediately leaving the Cross, but a good crew would happily do that. More than one occasion I enjoyed three courses before Grantham. Once handing my tea cup back to the steward as I stepped off onto the platform, cash payment left on table! That was in GNER days, Crews varied of course, but overall it was a v high quality option. The idea that the current 'free' offer is really worth having is frankly laughable in comparison in my view!
The issue went wider than that. For a few years before the "Eureka" timetable change, I regularly travelled between Grantham and Newcastle. The breakfast offer never really changed that much, but the restaurant car was already in decline before it collapsed under NXEC. Joining the 18:35 from Newcastle, with dinner advertised as available from all stations up to and including York, it was usual to find a number of menu options "off", and more than once nothing at all available - and that at Newcastle. God help the poor souls joining at York. The problem seemed to be portion control, and the complete failure of the ordering managers to consider the demand on a train.
 

Kurolus Rex

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Having prodded the Wayback Machine (here) I suspect that it was probably like the four things here. That entry is from June 2010 and I believe my experience will have been Aprilish 2011 (sadly I can't find a working version of that page for around then) but it's perfectly reasonable to suppose that the menu would have changed between June 2010 and when I travelled!

Thanks for the find!

Given that there is no asterisk attached to any of the "Hot Eats" options, it would appear that a chef was not required on board to cook these unlike the full english on that menu stating that it is only available on selected services and prepared by a chef.

Question then is that if these options were infact available to standard class passengers as well*, were they served on plates with cutlery as in first class or was it served differently?

*Given that this is the Cafe Bar menu it seems plausible to assume that it was.
 

ainsworth74

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Question then is that if these options were infact available to standard class passengers as well*, were they served on plates with cutlery as in first class or was it served differently?

*Given that this is the Cafe Bar menu it seems plausible to assume that it was.

As I said previously it was served on plates with cutlery to me in first class ;)

And that is the buffet menu so was available to standard class passengers.
 

Kurolus Rex

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As I said previously it was served on plates with cutlery to me in first class ;)

And that is the buffet menu so was available to standard class passengers.

I read that, was wondering if it was any different for standard class passengers, but given how it comes from the buffet regardless then i suppose it's possible that it was served on plates regardless. I just find it a bit hard to believe that they would give you plates in Standard, especially if you only have a tray table.

Was it NXEC which introduced these types of meals or has it been around since GNER/ICEC days?
 

WesternLancer

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I read that, was wondering if it was any different for standard class passengers, but given how it comes from the buffet regardless then i suppose it's possible that it was served on plates regardless. I just find it a bit hard to believe that they would give you plates in Standard, especially if you only have a tray table.

Was it NXEC which introduced these types of meals or has it been around since GNER/ICEC days?
Yes, I don't know but seems unlikely to use plates for standard - simply because of the job of going to clear up the plates, cutlery etc with usually less staff allocated to that sort of role in more carriages in standard. But I don't think I ever used it in std (just opting to use trains with restaurants instead and buy a meal and thus travel in 1st) so I can't be sure.

My hunch is that it would have been a GNER originated thing, but again I'm not sure.

I recall presentation of this was used to get some PR for GNER menu changes at the time:
https://collection.sciencemuseumgro...th-eastern-railway-presentation-box-packaging

Still on display I believe

pic at the bottom of this page
https://londonist.com/london/museum...to-the-euston-arch-at-national-railway-museum
 

ainsworth74

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I read that, was wondering if it was any different for standard class passengers, but given how it comes from the buffet regardless then i suppose it's possible that it was served on plates regardless. I just find it a bit hard to believe that they would give you plates in Standard, especially if you only have a tray table.

Oh sorry got confused. For standard class passengers as far as I'm aware it was boxed with plastic cutlery for you to take back to your seat.
 

Kurolus Rex

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Thanks all!

The reason i'm asking where it originated from is because of the auto announcement device that was fitted to the 225s when they were introduced. One of the catering announcements mentions a "quality breakfast tray" :lol:which is available at the buffet so i was curious how the buffet service used to be. You certainly can't get anything like that these days!
 

ainsworth74

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Thanks! Quite a varied range i see.

Yes and my recollection is that the food was top notch. A bit on the pricey side but considering the location it was being served and being good quality well worth it.

The current offer on LNER (or Avanti) pales in comparison in my view. But that's the way the markets gone! And I'd rather have the LNER approach of all services offering something hot to the GWR approach of only a bare handful (as wonderful as Pullman Dining may be).
 

WesternLancer

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Good to see that menu.

However, wasn't that approach one whereby East Coast DOR following the GNER 'handing back of the keys' were seeking to exit from providing anything like as may restaurant cars, and thus reducing them, and providing this instead? Or am I miss remembering it?

Ideally you would want some premium restaurants and then decent fare like this (that you pay for if you want) on a majority of other services - with perhaps the most lightly loaded services at times people much less likely to want to eat having a simple, modest (uncooked for example) level of choice.
 

richa2002

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Here's a photo of the kind of thing available "back in the day". This was very shortly after NXEC took over from GNER.
 

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WesternLancer

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Here's a photo of the kind of thing available "back in the day". This was very shortly after NXEC took over from GNER.
Also nice to note the drink there with the meal. Current LNER mode of operation seeming to provide the drinks at completely different times to the food so getting both at the same time being no easy task....

Great pic by the way!
 

ainsworth74

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However, wasn't that approach one whereby East Coast DOR following the GNER 'handing back of the keys' were seeking to exit from providing anything like as may restaurant cars, and thus reducing them, and providing this instead? Or am I miss remembering it?

Misremembering I think! GNER provided restaurant cars on a large number of services (indeed more I believe than Inter-City did!). They lost the franchise due to the failure of their parent company Sea Containers alongside GNERs own troubles meeting the premium payments they had signed up to when they won the franchise again in May 2005. It was then run on a direct award basis for a short period until a full competition could be concluded which National Express won. They then ran into financial trouble so stripped out the majority of restaurant cars apart from a few peak time trains and provided the menu as seen on the remainder. When they 'handed the keys back' East Coast took over and then basically ran it unchanged (though they may have cut a couple of more restaurant services it would have only been a handful as NXEC culled the majority) from November 2009 until May 2011 when they switched to the current model (though they had four full weekly menu rotations rather than the current one menu with, I think two weekly alternating 'special' dishes).

Ideally you would want some premium restaurants and then decent fare like this (that you pay for if you want) on a majority of other services - with perhaps the most lightly loaded services at times people much less likely to want to eat having a simple, modest (uncooked for example) level of choice.

Would you though? Part of the reason the premium restaurants died out was that people weren't using them! I argued in a thread linked to previously that I think a premium restaurant is targeting the wrong market segment.
 

WesternLancer

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Misremembering I think! GNER provided restaurant cars on a large number of services (indeed more I believe than Inter-City did!). They lost the franchise due to the failure of their parent company Sea Containers alongside GNERs own troubles meeting the premium payments they had signed up to when they won the franchise again in May 2005. It was then run on a direct award basis for a short period until a full competition could be concluded which National Express won. They then ran into financial trouble so stripped out the majority of restaurant cars apart from a few peak time trains and provided the menu as seen on the remainder. When they 'handed the keys back' East Coast took over and then basically ran it unchanged (though they may have cut a couple of more restaurant services it would have only been a handful as NXEC culled the majority) from November 2009 until May 2011 when they switched to the current model (though they had four full weekly menu rotations rather than the current one menu with, I think two weekly alternating 'special' dishes).



Would you though? Part of the reason the premium restaurants died out was that people weren't using them! I argued in a thread linked to previously that I think a premium restaurant is targeting the wrong market segment.
Thanks - I feel sure there would be some market for some premium restaurants - if GWR have a market I don't believe that there is not one to be had on the ECML too (I think FWIW that that might well be different on say MML as the demography of the places served is different, and the journey times too but that's a diversion) - but ref your other thread as you will see I also agree there was much in what you suggested in that too.
 
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