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Nov 24, 2007 04:01 PM

Eurostar dining?

Has anyone upgraded to 'leisure select' to experience the '3 course meal with fine wines'? It is worth it? Should I grab a sandwich instead before boarding? Last time I purchased a sandwich on board it was god awful!!

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  1. I've never eaten on the Eurostar. It seems to me the food is better at either end of the trip, no matter the destination. Depending on the time of year, the Eurostar can now be quite an expensive ride... why make it even more costly for a 2 hour or less trip? At the Paris station, there are some good sandwich places (I think one is Paul). I'm sure the new St. Pancras terminal in London will also have some nice choices for take-away meals. The mussels in Lille were worth waiting for.

    2 Replies
    1. re: zuriga1

      There will be more options at St Pancras, but for now the best is the Pain Quotidien on the lower concourse.

      1. re: loobcom

        I always use Ashford but intend to check out St. Pancras in the future.... part of a work assignment. It's going to take awhile, I think, to get everything up and running.

    2. Last year, I went to Paris for work every six weeks or so. Every so often, if I bought my ticket at the last minute, Leisure Select would be the same price as Economy--or just 20 quid or so more. It was worth it. Firstly, they will bring you magazines and newspapers. Secondly, you get an apertif, a three course meal, and at least two small bottles of wine.

      I've gotten the full business fare once, and it was really similar to Leisure Select...maybe I wasn't paying attention, but I didn't notice that many differences. I think Eurostar tries to promote LS as a class for travelers, where as the Business one is more for business people, so you should expect people on their phones, laptops, etc. Oh, the full business class also lets you use the lounge, if I remember correctly.

      Anyhow, to your point...yes, the food in Leisure Select is much nicer. And they bring it to your seat! The other thing I like is that you don't have everyone constantly walking past you. You can't really walk through the Leisure Select carriages to the other end of the train. They will stop you.

      5 Replies
      1. re: kristainlondon

        I think the only difference (apart from lounge access) between leisure select and business is that they try not to have children in business, whilst leisure select is open to famlilies. The food, wine, service, space etc is the same.

        I also used to travel a lot on business, once my wife came over with me and we upgraded her to leisure select as it was a special offered during the internet booking process. We thought we could then change the seats and sit together. However, that isn't possible. Reason: to keep out kids.

        1. re: PhilD

          You can definitely change your seat if there's space available, although they can make it difficult. I used to do this with my boss all the time. We would book separately online and end up at different ends of the train. Not sure how Kings X is handling it now, but at Waterloo, you had to go through security and get to that round table at the very end of the terminal where they give out directions, maps, and can help arrange for car service to pick you up in Paris. Ask them if you can change your seat. I have had issues where I've had to ask a 2nd or sometimes even 3rd person, and they have screwed it up on occassion. (i.e., crossed out my seat, wrote a new one in, but the controller on the train wasn't in the loop).

          I used to change my seat a lot in Economy two because there are only two Economy cars that have electric outlets at the seat in every seat. The guys at that table at Waterloo knew which cars had electricity at the seat so I would have them change me.

          So--back to the food and wine in Leisure Select, my fave trip is when they came around and asked if I wanted an apertif. I said I'd prefer a glass of wine. The steward refused to serve me wine at that point and insisted I have an was for later! So I "had" to have a Kir Royale. :)

          Would also concur with sloepoke about the food--I had pig's cheeks once!

          1. re: kristainlondon

            Yes you can change seats within standard class or within business class - but you can't combine leisure select and business class to sit together (unless the business class passenger wants to go into leisure select if there are spare seats - which is rare).

            BombayBeauty - I wouldn't agree the food and wine is as good as business class on an aircraft. It is OK and the champagne and wine are fine, and the service is good - relaxing to be pampered..

            Zuriga1 - I would guess most people in leisure select are paying their own way. If your on expenses you tend to head for business class because the tickets are more flexible. I was going to say the food is similar both ways, but on reflection I only ever had breakfast from Paris, and dinner to Paris. Still it was always nice to arrive in Paris "warmed" up (from the champagne and wine) for a good dinner.

            1. re: PhilD

              PhilD - I think you're right, I did overstate my case slightly. Quantities were small, quality was high, service was gracious. This fits the broad parameters of good service. I have had better on business class, but also worse. Cheers, BB

        2. re: kristainlondon

          I travel and eat in Leisure Select ALL the time. I think the food is pretty good for traveling fare. Like, way better than airline food. I have eaten halibut with lemongrass, veal with wild mushrooms, organic omelette, chicken with mango, and a bunch of other things I can't remember but were, you know, okay. Tasted like actual food. And the booze it is a-flowing. However, if you're upgrading purely to experience the meal I wouldn't bother. For me it's a convenience thing (because I travel E-star either end of a work trip) and it's nice to not have to worry about grabbing-and-going when I'm already in a rush. But if you're saving cash, I'd buy a sandwich at the station and get a couple of tiny bottles of wine in the bar car. I myself have stood in the bar car all the way from London to Paris and back again... Oh, those tiny bottles! The food at Gare du Nord is okay (as is the way of France), you can get a _very_ decent meal at Cafe Terminus Nord just across the street from the station. I was in St Pancras this morning and it's still definitely getting going... not much opened yet save for a handful of coffee bars and M&S. So, to sum up, if you get a cheap seat yes, go for Leisure Select, but don't pay the expensive fare for the food alone.

        3. Just got the Eurostar yesterday. I think for the price it's pretty good. You get champagne or an aperitif, then a tray of food with a hot or cold main, served with wine. If you compare it to what you get on the airplane, then I think the quality is high, and appropriately the quantities small.

          On a related pointed, I found the quality of food at St. Pancras bad. I found the much touted Champagne bar over-hyped. Look, it's good champagne for 10 quid a glass, with a big selection, but it's cold (though there are under-table heaters -- turn them on!) and noisy. I also think they got the sight lines wrong. They could really have had a bar the length of the platform. Instead tables are arrange like train compartments. Not bad, but just not worthy of all the hype.

          Getting back to the question, personally I probably don't need champagne on a 2 hour train journey (and you're ending up in Brussels or Paris!) so would take a cheaper ticket if it's available. But having said that, the service was nice.



          5 Replies
          1. re: bombaybeauty

            just because I'm in a mood, I thought I'd tell you what I had to eat on the Eurostar leisure select Paris to London last night:

            champagne aperitif, grilled aubergine frittata (starter), loin of pork with tomato & chorizo sauce, broccoli souffle, and potato something, very nice bread & butter, pear tart, coffee and a nice bordeaux for drinking. Ooh, and a delicious chocolate truffle for after ;) The other mains option was risotto with ceps and chanterelle mushrooms. They have also had a cheese course in the past, but not last night for some reason.

            I'm writing this because I had an absolute stinker of a day and a crazy adrenaline-fueled nervous taxi rush to get to the station, and by the time I got into my seat, opened my book and the Eurostar steward popped the champagne, it had all melted away. So yes, I think in some cases it is worth it to pay for the dinner on the Eurostar.

            1. re: sloepoke

              I'm not prying, but I wonder how many who go Leisure Select and have the yummy meals are on an expense account and travelling for business. Is the food better Paris/London? I've wondered about who does the catering at either end.

              1. re: zuriga1

                I paid for my own ticket. As I said above, though I enjoyed the service - gracious and good quality, such a contrast with most flight service even in business class (well, I suppose that's why the train is nicer) - I just buy the cheapest ticket. But if you book too late, the cheap tickets are sometimes sold out, and you have to suffer (sigh....) though excessive champagne, wine, and cheese. Cruel.


                1. re: bombaybeauty

                  I usually travel on an expense account, though if you book late, sometimes Leisure Select seats can be had for the same price as standard, or only slightly more. But I always go with the cheapest ticket available... meal or no meal.

                  I do love the Eurostar, though, and I'm looking forward to the delights of St. Pancras as soon as it's properly up and running. And they've sorted out the taxi queue. Sheesh.

                  1. re: sloepoke

                    I only buy cheapest seats - you can also use airmiles and other points. I used to spurn the food but it recently improved - I had a nice (organic?) salmon salad. St Pancras claims it will have a "farmers' market" - a misnomer, it will probably be a gourmet food market as in NY Grand Central. All the shops and food outlets there are clones. Diesel fumes would suppress my appetite anyway.