Station buffets aren’t always what they used to be, but these five British railway cafés have plenty of atmosphere and delicious food.
Winchcombe Coffee Shop
Break your journey on the Gloucestershire-Warwickshire heritage railway (above), which runs between Laverton and Cheltenham Racecourse, with a pot of tea and some homebaked coffee-and-walnut cake at this 1950s-style café. Open throughout the season (see website for details) on Tuesdays to Thursdays and at the weekends from 10am to 4pm.
The Refreshment Room
Carnforth, saved from dereliction a decade ago, will forever be associated with Brief Encounter – David Lean filmed some of the most famous scenes there. The Refreshment Room has been restored to its wartime glory, and visitors today can warm up with toasted teacakes and hot chocolate, or a nip of something stronger from the bar. Open daily from 9am to 4pm.
Platform 1 Café
Choosy commuters from the seaside town give the coffee at this retro-style eatery the thumbs up, and the freshly made sandwiches are superb. Keep an eye out for the Orient Express – it’s been known to put in an appearance. Open Monday to Friday from 5.30am to 5.30pm, and on Saturdays from 7am to 5.30pm
With its well-upholstered seats and soft lighting, this popular local spot could pass for a golden-age railway carriage. The menu is traditional (fish and chips, locally made ice cream, homemade cakes and Sunday roasts), and portions are hearty. There’s even a takeaway service available if you’re rushing for a train. Open daily from 8.30am.
Station Buffet at Barter Books
The last train chuffed out of Alnwick in 1968, but the stone station building remains. It’s now home to a cosy second-hand bookshop (home to the original ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ poster) that also serves proper comfort food: Northumbrian rarebit, bacon baps, macaroni cheese and thrice-cooked chips. Open from 10am to 5pm in the summer and 10am to 4.30pm in the winter.
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