Ever since I read Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express, I’ve wanted to go on a glamorous train ride. Not for the murder bit, of course, just for the opportunity to swan about in jewels and feathers as a grandly decadent train transported me to exotic lands.
The closest thing to the Orient Express in Melbourne is the bar/restaurant The Toff In Town. The sexy, dimly lit restaurant is reminiscent of a smoky speakeasy but what makes it really unique are the intimate leather booths set like first class train carriages. If you want privacy you can slide close the doors, pull down the blinds and even indulge in a bit of nookie (the couple in the carriage next to us were snogging enthusiastically), and you won’t be bothered by the friendly waitstaff unless you press the service button.
So, top marks for atmosphere. How was the food? Absolutely fantastic. The four of us tried a range of cold and hot hors d’oeuvres, with standouts being the sweet roasted beetroot, feta, mint and walnut salad ($12.50), beautifully tender smoked lamb cutlets with artichoke tapenade ($5.50 each), a hearty duck and lentil pie with silverbeet salad ($19.50) and a cauliflower, leek and goats cheese tart finished off with a dash of fresh rocket and Romanesco sauce ($12.50). Our bill for seven dishes and three beers – an economy carriage price of $30 per person.