A tasty family lunch in a wonderfully atmospheric setting with great service too
Sunday lunch for the family might be a richly enjoyed tradition across the land, but the piles of pots, pans, plates and cutlery that it inevitably creates can be a bit of a turn-off. So when the chance comes for a Sunday lunch where somebody else is doing the cooking and washing up, it somehow tastes that much better… Then add in a funky setting full of history and tradition, and you’re on to a winner.
Avon Valley Railway in Bitton has been a favourite destination for our family for years. With the children as youngsters, we’d call along to see the steam engines at work, enjoy the regular weekend activities and go for an ice cream or a cup of tea. As the children got older, we take the bikes out along the Bath to Bristol cycle track and stop off at the railway for refreshments. This time around, it was the buffet car that took our attention.
We’d booked ahead for a 12.30 table for four, which was a push for the teenagers (“That’s way too early!”) and were greeted by the super friendly team who soon had us seated at our table in the old buffet car, complete with flowers, serviettes folded neatly in the shape of hats (yes, of course they went straight on to everyone’s heads for selfies…) and trays of chocolate mints near the entrance with the children immediately asking if we’d get one with pudding.
The menu will change each weekend, but for us it was a choice between roast pork loin with apple sauce, roast beef with Yorkshire puddings and vegetable toad in the hole, all served with fresh vegetables, roast potatoes and gravy. With a carrot, orange and ginger soup starter and a choice of puds, the whole things comes to £16.50 for your choice of two courses.
And just in case there’s nothing on the menu that fancy, the usual lunch menu is also available, which was ideal for my older son who preferred the sausage and chips for £7.95. A full drinks menu is also available, which meant two Dr Pepper’s, a fruit juice and an absolutely apt pint of Piston Broke bitter from the Box Steam Brewery.
A quick note here – the railway has also started serving the superb looking children’s cooked breakfast served on a shovel for £4.95… We’ll be back for one of these as soon as possible.
With a couple of games of 20 questions taking up the time while our meals were prepared, we were soon ready to tuck into good sized portions all around. Now I don’t know about you, but one of the biggest telling points of a decent Sunday roast out is the potatoes – if they’re kept warm they taste like something from a bad school dinners nightmare. Fortunately the ones at Avon Valley Railway were excellent, as were the veggies (including cauliflower cheese) and the pork too. Actually, it was really very good, particularly when we’ve had far worse in local village pubs for twice the price.
Even the sausage and chips impressed, with the snorkers far more local farm quality than something from the aisles at Tesco.
Throughout the service was top line – really friendly, great with the children and when we mentioned we had to leave by a certain time, everything was arranged so that we hit our deadline. Yes, the puddings were more OK than amazing, but we did get one of those mints each that we had noticed.
There’s so much to like about Avon Valley Railway. The weekend events are excellent – we can particularly vouch for the Brick Express Lego events and the always 1940s weekend that takes place every September – while just seeing those gorgeous old engines steam past is a rare joy. The team there is always welcoming and happy to chat, and if you get a chance, we can recommend a trip up and down the line behind one of the gorgeous steam locomotives.
As for the Sunday lunches, it was a really enjoyable family trip out in a lovely venue with good food too – and no washing up at the end to deal with…
For more information about eating out and upcoming activities at Avon Valley Railway, go to www.avonvalleyrailway.org