dining car


By Marilyn Heimburger

At lunchtime we found the Speisewagen (dining car) between the first and second-class coaches. The car was furnished with seven tables for four, and seven tables for two, bedecked with white linen tablecloths and maroon cloth napkins. The chairs were upholstered with matching maroon fabric. Knife-pleated curtains at the windows framed the wonderful scenery speeding by while we decided what to order.

The handsome maroon hardcover menu titled “Utasellato” (a food service chain catering to travelers) by Diacell, was written in Hungarian, German and English, and a photo accompanied each item.

If we wanted breakfast, we could choose from three types of continental breakfasts for 8.80 Euro: 1) orange juice, coffee, tea, or hot chocolate, ham, cheese, salami, bread or rolls, honey, jam; 2) choice of beverage and frankfurter with mustard, bread or rolls; 3) choice of beverage and ham and eggs with butter, bread or rolls. Omelets (mushroom, ham, cheese, chicken liver) were available for 6.50.

Cold hors d’oeuvres included Hungarian mixed cheese plate, or salami with bread (7.90), or Camembert with butter and bread for 5.90. Warm hors d’oeuvres included risotto with chicken liver (7.90), stuffed pancake (8.90) or fried Camembert with rice and jam (9.90).

Hungarian goulash soup (7.60), broccoli cream soup or tomato soup (3.00) were available, as were “wellness foods” including tuna fish salad, smoked salmon on salad with dill sauce, or broiled turkey breast with Greek salad for 10.50.

Specials were between 9.90 and 11.90 Euro: beef goulash with spaetzle, paprika chicken with spaetzle, grilled pork cutlet with potatoes, or Transylvanian goulash. Main dishes cost between 10.90 and 11.90 and included pork strips, turkey breast, cordon bleu or pork chops, to which you could add a salad (mixed, tomato, slaw or cucumber) for 3.10.

Dessert choices were crepes filled with jam, hazelnut cream or cheese, or milk rice with fruit for 3.00. Snacks of chocolate bars, gum, peanuts or pistachios were also available. In addition to soft drinks and water, the menu took up a full page to list the beer options, and two pages for wine.

The waiter spoke German, Hungarian and enough English and French “to get by.” Credit card payments were not accepted, however, and in an unfortunate translation, the menu expressed apologies for the “incontinence.”

Proudly displayed in the dining car was a 2007 award presented to the MAV (Hungarian State Railway)-Start-Diacell crew that achieved first place in the category “Finest Food” in the culinary competition organized by the Hungarian Railway Museum at the Third International Dining Car Convention in Budapest.

We enjoyed our selections of an omelet and goulash soup, and even returned to the Speisewagen for coffee while the afternoon sun lit the Austrian hills. What a great way to travel!