The author has dined in train restaurants of four European railway companies. During her test dinners, she found that not all dining cars are the same – the differences in quality are enormous. The dining car is valued not only in Germany but also in neighboring countries if you want to try this in Germany, visit bahn fahrplanauskunft. Not only restaurants are on the rails, with real kitchens and tables with white ceilings. Bistro trolleys and rolling snack bars are also increasingly being used, in which, if necessary, pre-cooked ready meals are heated in the microwave. The range in terms of choice and quality is enormous, as our test of four European dining cars shows.
Czech State Railways: the moving goulash cannon
The good reputation of the Czech dining car is confirmed as soon as you step inside: the smell of frying fat immediately fills your nose. A look into the narrow kitchen confirms that the Czech state railway ČD is still cooking properly. A real cook is frying a few schnitzels in plenty of oil and at the same time turning small, round potatoes in a second pan. This service is a luxury that no other railway company in Europe that focuses on system catering offers.
Deutsche Bahn: the “out of stock” on-board restaurant
Most of the ICE trains operated by Deutsche Bahn have an onboard restaurant or at least one onboard bistro (mostly with bar tables); the range of hot dishes has been the same since 2018. The new concept: there are classics (such as chili con carne) and dishes that change every two months (such as venison goulash). Theoretically. n our test in the ICE on-board restaurant on the Berlin- Cologne route, there is at least warm food and a seat, the dishes on the menu are actually all in stock. The dining car is styled in the DB design: walls with wooden decor, large, red seats, rounded corners. The tables are covered with white tablecloths, the dishes are printed with the DB logo. A cook is not on board; the employees warm up the pre-prepared dishes, just like on a plane. The vegetarian curry with rice (9.90 euros) is tasty for system catering, as is the currywurst with fries (6.90 euros). Why the curry is decorated with desiccated coconut and the currywurst with crumbled tacos remains a mystery.
Polish State Railways: the Piroggen-Express
The Berlin-Warszawa-Express runs several times a day between the German and Polish capital, all wagons are operated by the Polish state railway PKP, including the dining car: folding seats in red velour, wooden tables with white runners in the middle, the walls white, overhead luggage racks the heads as in the compartment.
Eurostar: the rolling snack bar without a whistle
Eurostar is a good alternative for anyone who does not travel to London by plane and wants to change trains in Brussels or Paris. Unfortunately, the modern super express train doesn’t have a real restaurant, just a bar car. Cozy dining is not possible here, there are only bar tables and no seating. The catering options are clear: the onboard bistro sells sandwiches and snacks. The tested ham and cheese sandwich is warmed up in the toaster oven and served on cardboard with wooden cutlery. Nothing special in taste. The chocolate brownie is edible, but not a highlight. On the other hand, the prices are special, namely especially expensive – twelve euros for a snack without a whistle are calculated on the pain threshold.