As the new menu is due out next week and the web team have still not updated their pages we thought we'd share with you what's in the new menu.

The menu starts on Monday 11 December and rotates between the new menus on a weekly basis. The winter menu usually runs until the timetable changes in May.

The evening meal menu is my personal favourite and makes for an excellent experience travelling on Virgin Trains East Coast. It's only available on selected northbound services in the evening peak departing from King's Cross at 1700, 1719, 1730, 1733, 1800, 1803, 1819, 1830, 1833 and 1900. The 1819 to Newcastle tends to be a good bet.

Rotation 1 - Evening meal

  • Pan roasted fillet of cod with caponata, parsley potatoes and green beans
  • Ruby chicken in a rich Lyonnaise sauce served with parsley potatoes
  • Vegetarian lentil chilli with corn chips and sour cream
  • Smoked salmon, cream cheese and cucumber sandwich
  • Tangy cheddar cheese salad sandwich served with kromberg mayonnaise

Dessert

  • Sticky toffee pudding with butterscotch sauce
  • Cheese plate

Rotation 2 - evening meal

  • Confit of duck leg in a sharp orange sauce served with lentils, carrots and green beans
  • Beef Rendang with naan bread
  • Truffle mac and cheese
  • Zingy chilli chicken wrap
  • Egg mayo sandwich

Dessert

  • Vanilla cheesecake with rhubarb and ginger compote
  • Cheese plate

Rest of day menu

The rest of day menu is served on trains after 11am that do not have the evening meal service. The main difference is the rest of day menu does not require a chef to prepare it. This means all weekday trains should have a hot food offering. If there's only sandwiches available then this may be due to an equipment failure, supply failure or staff shortage.

The rest of the day menu is the same as the evening meal menu except for the chef prepared item (the top item of each rotation - cod and duck) is not available. The hot sausage roll (introduced with the James Martin menus) remains available.

The dessert options from the evening meal menu are not available. Rotation 1 offers a cardamom and orange muffin and rotation 2 offers a toffee and banana marble cake. Fruit should also be available.

Drinks

The regular drinks selection will continue. Stella Artois 4 was replaced with the cheaper Carlsberg a while ago and Carlsberg will remain the lager option. Those from outside the UK should note that the Carlsberg sold in the UK does not resemble that produced in Denmark. A better option is the Hop on Board ale that still remains available. Also disappointingly the whisky remains as Bell's, we can't blame VTEC for that it has been Bell's as long as I remember but it would be nice to change.

The wines are changing due to a partnership with Virgin Wines. All the wines offered will be Spanish. White: Viura Blanco, red: Tempranillo Tinto and rosé: Tempranillo Rosado.

Breakfast

Breakfast should mostly remain the same although there's no additional details on that at the moment. The new timetable booklet does not highlight which services breakfast is prepared by a chef rather than the regular crew. The main difference is the chef prepared breakfast (the majority of breakfast services) is freshly prepared and has a fried egg, the crew prepared breakfast is reheated and so have a souffle instead. Not sure if the removal of the distinction in the timetable is to allow them to reduce the number of chefs on board over time or if they just wanted to simplify things.

Weekend

Weekend will continue to be a cut back offering. The choice of sandwich/wraps, a muffin, crisps and non-alcoholic drinks.

Christmas

No trains run Christmas Day or Boxing Day (26th) but the catering around these days changes.

21-22 December

Normal catering services should be offered on board these trains. Those travelling on the evening meal services on these two days should also be offered a glass of prosecco subject to availability.

23-24 December, 30-31 December and 1 (+2?) Jaunary

The offering on the weekends (and bank holidays) around Christmas will be a slightly modified version of the weekend offering. The sandwich choice (after 11am) will be egg mayo or smoked salmon, cucumber and cream cheese. Breakfast will be Danish pastry, blueberry yogurt and EAT Natural bars. So if you were looking forward to a full English on the first working day of the year then you're out of luck!

The cake will be a spiced streusel cake. Crisps and biscuits will be offered as usual along with hot and soft drinks (no alcohol)

According to the information I was given they are treating the 2 January as a bank holiday despite it being a working day in England (only Scotland have it as a public holiday). This would have meant no hot breakfast for those who use the line to commute on the 2nd. I've been told this is not the case and catering will be normal weekday offering on the 2nd.

27-29 December

This will be a weekday service but cutback from what they normally offer, but it's still better than the weekend offering (perhaps this is what the weekend offering should be). The website incorrectly states (currently) that no alcohol will be offered on these dates, however, like last year, they will be offering alcohol on these services (after 11am at least).

The food offering is the same as the festive 'weekend' offering listed above but with a hot option. A bacon roll replaces the EAT Natural bar and mac and cheese is in addition to the sandwiches on the rest of day menu.

Comment

The evening meal menus look superb and if the staffing issues have been addressed it will ensure that train travel continues to be an enjoyable experience. Decent catering is an important part of the travel experience and I'm hoping that Virgin Trains East Coast now know the importance many put on catering as part of the first class experience.

I tend to travel more on evening trains than early morning trains but for many the breakfast on-board helps make a great start to the day and is particularly useful to commuters as it means they don't have to eat in the house, saving vital time.

I remember many people in 2016 were disappointed when they were travelling on the 2nd January and expecting a full breakfast and ending up with a weekend offering. The excuse at the time was it's a bank holiday in Scotland, it's a rubbish excuse as some other bank holidays differ in Scotland (their August bank holiday is at the begining of the month) but they don't put on a weekend service in England because of this. 

This year (2017) the 2nd of January was a bank holiday for all of the UK as the 1st was on a Sunday so the holiday carried over. This meant the first working day this year was the 3rd January in England and 4th in Scotland. I was away at the time and didn't check whether they had the full offering on the 3rd.

Hopefully the information I've been told now is correct and there will be a full service on the 2nd January. If there's any new information then this page will be updated.