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Pizza choice puts buffet car menu on the right track; Grantown East Highland Heritage and Cultural Centre, Grantown-on-Spey (East Railway Station) PH26 3AD t: 01479 816262 w:

Byline: Grantown East

Grantown East Highland Heritage and Cultural Centre, Grantown-on-Spey (East Railway Station) PH26 3AD t: 01479 816262 w: I spend a lot of time travelling to the central belt by rail. Those of you who do the same will have shared my experience of the all-too-common delays, bus transfers for part of the journey, seat reservations not working, crowded carriages and endless standing. It's often not much fun.

Yet I still retain a real affection for train travel. Whether it's nostalgia for the days of steam, happy memories of reunions, excitement for day trips to exotic locations or that period of relaxation, after a hard day's work, heading home, trains still have a magic quality.

Recently, I spent a pleasurable hour or so on a train and had no complaints about the service at all. But in all that time, we never moved an inch. Sitting for an hour on a stationary train would normally have my blood pressure rising, but not this time. I disembarked feeling relaxed and well set for the rest of the day.

I had passed the locomotive carriages outside Grantown-on-Spey several times and had heard the cafe they housed served some delicious food. This, however, was the first chance I had to go inside and try it for myself. We entered via the newly refurbished railway station, now a lovely gift shop. It was slightly disconcerting to be told we couldn't take any photographs - not the warmest of welcomes, particularly when we had bought something.

Undeterred, we ventured into the carriages which are certainly an impressive sight. And inside they look just as good - like many of the buffet cars I have enjoyed in the past. But it is the first buffet car I have ever seen with a brick, wood-fired pizza oven in it. One look and that was it - I was having pizza.

But first, what for starter? They offered two soups. One was vegetable but the other was my favourite - oxtail. I couldn't resist and neither could my other half.

You don't see oxtail on many menus. I think that's because it is a bit time-consuming to make. Picking the flakes of juicy meat off the tail bones is a fiddly job, but worth every minute in my view. It is probably one of the most flavour-packed soups you can get, and this one was no exception. Made well, it is more like a stew than a soup. Unusually they offer a free refill of soup, and if you took advantage of that along with the scrummy roll that came with it, I am sure it would be enough for a lunchtime meal for most people. But I declined the refill - I was definitely having pizza.

And just as well really, as there were limited nonpizza options. Yes, you could have a Lorne sausage or bacon roll, and there was also a venison burger special, but they are definitely specialising in pizzas.

They offer eight varieties ranging from the Locomotive Breakfast with sausage, egg, bacon and mushrooms, to the Glenfeshie Smoked Salmon with both hot and cold smoked varieties on top. I, however, chose the Steam Train - Fire Roast Chicken. It came with their home-made barbecue sauce, Yester mozzarella, roast peppers, red onion and jalapeno chillies, as well as spicy roast chicken. The pizza base was brilliant. Just as thin and crispy as I like with that slight toastiness you get in a wood-fired oven. I felt it was maybe a bit too heavy on the cheese, but it didn't stop me scoffing the lot.

I asked my other half to order the venison burger - we were here to write a review after all and we needed to test the whole menu. It was served with crisps and a creamy coleslaw, and was very tasty. But, as he gazed covetously at my pizza, he seemed a little unhappy I had asked him to make that choice. I think I may have been skating on thin ice.

Now what for pudding? We could have skipped pudding. We probably should have skipped pudding. We could even have had a modest scoop of the fabulous Stew 'n' Drew's luxury ice cream. But they make pudding pizzas! Who could resist? I chose the pecan pie pizza knowing nuts were not my partner's favourites, leaving the whole of the remaining pudding pizza list for him to choose from. What could be fairer than that? And he chose the scrumptious sounding lemon meringue pie. Both pizzas were delicious. However, I don't think my partner was as happy as me - how come you got a scoop of ice cream and I didn't, he asked? Sometimes you just can't win.

I think we had better go back and I'll let him have first pick next time.

Price: Soup x 2 PS9; Steam Train pizza PS9.95; venison burger PS8.50; pecan pie PS6.50; lemon meringue pie PS6.50; Diet Coke PS1.50; Speyside still water PS1.75 Total: PS43.70 Food: Atmosphere: Service: Total: 10/15
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Press and Journal (Aberdeen,Scotland)
Date:Jun 8, 2019
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