Thursday, October 27, 2016

Steam and Cuisine Luncheon, Puffing Billy

I've been on Puffing Billy many times over the years - as a kid, and with my own kids, but had never considered any other passenger options other than sitting in the back carriages with all limbs flying in the breeze out of the open windows.
That's the only way to do Puffing Billy, right?

Fast forward a couple of years, to a kid-free day, which happened to fall on our 10th wedding anniversary, and a very different option came to mind.
Putting together two of our favourite activities, exploring Victoria and eating, we booked the Steam and Cuisine Luncheon on Melbourne's most famous steam train. 

We got dressed up, put on some lippy and high heels (well, one of us did) and set off into the mild Spring weather. Arriving at Belgrave, we found parking on the high side of the road. Really, really high. So high,  I had to take my heels off and walk barefoot down the steep, wet footpath -  like I was on my way home from the races. 
By this time, the mild Spring weather had headed elsewhere and wet, windy Winter had taken its place.
My getting 'dressed up' outfit was totally inappropriate for the temperature outside and I all I could think about was the warm jacket and boots I had chosen not to wear.
But enough about me...let me tell you about this guy, Puffing Billy.
Steam and Cuisine Luncheon, Puffing Billy

We were seated in the First Class carriage at one of the larger tables, usually reserved for 4 persons. It meant we had plenty of room on our seat to put our bags and jackets if we had brought the darn things.Waaaahhhhh!
Steam and Cuisine Luncheon, Puffing BillyLuckily, it was lovely and warm and cosy in the carriage and soon thoughts of my jacket faded away with the puffs of smoke coming from the train.

Steam and Cuisine Luncheon, Puffing Billy
We had made our menu choices a few days prior to our journey and had each chosen a different entree, main and dessert. 
Whilst waiting for passengers to board the rest of the train, the dining staff delivered entrees and drinks to all seated in the two dining carriages.
Our Arancini Balls served with Seeded Mustard Aioli, and Hearty Vegetable Soup with crusty bread were both delicious and were a great start to our meal. We chose a Yering Station Shiraz Viognier to accompany our meal, just one of the many Yarra Valley wines on offer.
Steam and Cuisine Luncheon, Puffing Billy
After 30 minutes journey, our Mains were served as we stopped at Menzies Creek Station for a few minutes, allowing a Belgrave bound train to pass at the point where the tracks are divided.  We were very happy with the tasty Baked Chicken w' Pesto and the most comforting of comfort foods - Field Mushroom Cottage Pie. Yummo!
Steam and Cuisine Luncheon, Puffing BillySteam and Cuisine Luncheon, Puffing Billy

Our plates were cleared as we approached Lakeside Station. Here, we were able to walk off (Or I could have, if I'd worn sensible shoes and that damn jacket!!)  our hearty fare at the 45 minute stop.
Steam and Cuisine Luncheon, Puffing Billy

We got back on board after only a short time outside, and we were glad to find the carriage still warm. Our tables had been set in readiness for dessert and beverages. 

I loved the ambience of the century old dining cars. The ornate ceilings, decorative glass, solid timber and leather trims made me feel like I was enjoying train travel from another era. The whistle echoing throughout the hills and the smoke billowing out of the engine added to the atmosphere.
Steam and Cuisine Luncheon, Puffing Billy

Dessert was served as we left Lakeside. A decadent duo of house made Key Lime Pie and Sticky Date Pudding with Butterscotch Sauce. Tea and coffee accompanied the sweet treats and it was a struggle to finish off the food on our plates, we'd eaten so much.
Steam and Cuisine Luncheon, Puffing Billy
Steam and Cuisine Luncheon, Puffing Billy

The rain fell as we chugged along back to Belgrave, but it didn't detract too much from the great scenery outside. Overall, it was a really good outing and I'm glad we chose it for our special day.
Steam and Cuisine Luncheon, Puffing Billy

Steam and Cuisine Luncheon, Puffing Billy

Where: Belgrave
When: Daily 12:30pm                                                      
Why: historic train, dining
How much: $98.50 (The Entertainment Book has a 25% off coupon)

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