Along with the introduction of the new First Class menus they have introduced a new style of service. I have been told this is a trial so please give your feedback whether good or bad. Remember that people are more likely to give feedback if they're unhappy, so if you are enjoying the new style then it's critical that you're heard too.
Feedback online via a form on the website use this one for cateing comments, this one if you have a complaint about the new process, this one if you just have some general feedback and this one if any member of staff has impressed you. Alternatively you can feed back on Twitter or Facebook.
The best part of the change is the new menus. Although I mostly liked the old menus (the sea bass and the fishcakes were my favourites) some of the sandwich offerings were dreadful meaning on some weekends (when the hot food offer isn't available) I ended up buying food instead. The new menus look to have improved on this. There's some nice new hot options and I've checked the sandwiches on each of the 4 rotations and they look fine so I'm sorted for the weekends too.
Another nice change is the menus are now printed on card rather than paper. It just feels better quality and has the advantage that they can be reused.
The first odd thing that I noticed was no cups were on the table (this was a Friday evening) but the container holding the packets of sugar was still there. A new service style is being trialed where the cups aren't placed on the tables unless you order a hot drink, but also (on the evening meal services at least) the cold drinks run is done first, then the food orders and finally the hot drinks run. In the morning and weekends the cups still appear on the tables.
One reason for not having the cups on the tables by default is that it means they don't get in the way of people who are just there to work. But on the downside this slows down the hot drinks service, it used to be possible to do the service by hand with two people and you could get the whole of first class served extremely quickly. Now they have to do the hot drinks service by a trolley it means it takes longer to do the service, not a problem for me in coach K, but is for those in coach M. However, it does mean the special teas are more prominent and may raise awareness for those who'd prefer one of these.
The combination of being in coach K (nearest the kitchen) and drinking alcohol meant that the new service style worked for me. I was quickly served my drink and then had my meal order taken I could then have my meal and then finish off with a tea. However, if I preferred to drink hot drinks I'd be disappointed with the new arrangement as getting a hot drink quickly after departure has been one of the hallmarks of 1st class service on the ECML as far as I can remember.
Fortunately nothing appears to have been changed in the morning (on the trains I've been on). One of the pleasures of travelling in the morning is the tea with regular top ups.