On long-distance trains, the question of food in the carriage inevitably arises. Passengers very often take food with them, but keeping food fresh is impossible for more than 1-2 days. If the trip lasts longer, the dining carriages come to the rescue.
Is it safe to take food with you
Train travel is usually quite long, but it is more comfortable than, for example, a bus ride, and for many people it is preferable to air travel. Nevertheless, sometimes the journey to the place of arrival takes 3-4 days, and the longest railway route in the world (Moscow - Vladivostok) lasts more than 144 hours (6 days). As a rule, there are no refrigerators in compartments and reserved seats. Consequently, keeping homemade food fresh in a train carriage is almost impossible, and portable cooler bags can extend the life of food by a maximum of one day.
Some common dishes cannot be taken with you, even on a journey that takes only a day. For example, it is undesirable to eat any salads dressed with sour cream after 2-3 hours. Mayonnaise in this case, although it will not bring any special health benefits, is more preferable for dressing dishes, because the preservatives in its composition extend the life of the product for several more hours. And yet, after 5 hours, it is advisable to throw out mayonnaise salads that were stored without a refrigerator. But neither sour cream nor mayonnaise is suitable for dressing salads with fresh vegetables: mixed tomatoes, cucumbers and other vegetables, in combination with dressing, release juice, and the fresh product becomes inedible after 2 hours.
Cheese spoils at room temperature in a couple of hours, but sausages and some meat delicacies (especially smoked ones) retain their freshness for more than 5 hours. Heat-treated meat has about the same lifespan. It is advisable to forget about seafood, baked and fried fish on the train. Dried fish should also be excluded from the road menu, as well as any food, the smell of which remains in the room for a long time. After enjoying the fish for one day, you will "enjoy" its smell for the rest of the trip. In addition, highly salty food awakens thirst, and it is usually not accepted to drag eggplants with water into the carriage.
Long-term storage products that do not lose their freshness for weeks include nuts, dried fruits, marshmallows, honey, canned meat and vegetables, instant food, bread and crackers. But on some canned food and dry products, you can spoil your stomach. Another way out of the situation is to visit various shops and buffets at stops. However, it takes several tens of minutes to get to the nearest stalls and buy something there, and the stopping time does not always predispose this, and you cannot always be sure of the quality of roadside food. Therefore, it is worth thinking about visiting a special institution on the train - a dining car.
How the dining car works
There are dining cars on almost all long-distance trains, but you should check in advance about its availability on your train when buying tickets, and it is also useful to know in advance the number of the dining car. The dining car is a separate car, equipped with comfortable seats and comfortable dining tables firmly attached to the floor. In addition to the dining area, the carriage, of course, has a kitchen equipped with a refrigerator, stove, work space (countertops) and sinks. Electrical appliances (stove, refrigerator, kettle, coffee machine) in the mobile restaurant are powered by the train's electricity.
The working hours of restaurant cars on different trains are usually standard - from 8 am to midnight. Sometimes the restaurant is open until the last visitor, but this is already a matter of chance. During the day, there may be several short (30-40 minutes) breaks during which sanitary measures and thorough cleaning will be carried out. Some firms serving dining cars prefer different working hours: several hours for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with long breaks in between. Therefore, the restaurant schedule should be found in advance.
The staff of the restaurant car usually has no more than 3-4 people: a cook, an assistant cook, a waiter and a dishwasher. The chef in the carriage of the restaurant works according to the principle of "order-dish", that is, after ordering, you will have to wait some time, especially if there are many people in the car besides you. The average capacity of dining cars is 40-50 people.
Menu and prices
Of course, on long-distance trains, there are many increased requirements for the freshness and quality of the food prepared. As a rule, the menu of Russian Railways restaurant cars includes homemade dishes that are familiar to Russian citizens. For breakfast, cereals, sandwiches with white bread, boiled eggs and scrambled eggs, tea and coffee are most often offered. Often, several dishes typical for breakfast are combined into complex sets, which will cost 300-500 rubles or more.
For lunch, they usually offer native Russian cabbage soup, hodgepodge, borscht, broths, stews, goulash, sausages, white bread and fresh vegetable salads, and from drinks - tea, coffee and cocoa. Again, in most restaurants there is an option to order a complex lunch (business lunch), but meals can be ordered separately. Prices for lunch are already biting more and can go up to 1000 rubles for several dishes.
For dinner, passengers are offered a variety of hearty meat dishes - chops, stews, schnitzels, baked and fried fish, organ meats, baked potatoes, sausages, cheese cuts, fresh vegetables, etc. Dinners are mostly the most expensive, the average price for a salad and one meat dish is 900-1000 rubles. If passengers want to please themselves with a bottle of dry red wine for dinner, then you can safely add 3-5 thousand to the total check.
Thus, in a train restaurant, these familiar and, at first glance, not so expensive dishes will be at least 50% (or even 100%) more expensive than in ordinary city canteens. This is not always clear to the average passenger, which is why dining cars are not very popular on Russian trains. However, high food prices are essential to ensure the functioning of all systems related to the storage and preparation of quality food in a long road.
How is it different from a cafe-buffet
The restaurant car is distinguished by a high level of service, the waiters themselves serve the table, bring the dishes and clean up after the guests. In the cafe-buffet (sometimes it is referred to as a car-cafe), there are slightly different routines, because the main principle there is self-service. There is a small stall in the cafe, in the menu of which you can find ready-made sandwiches, snacks, various snacks (chips, crackers, nuts), sweet pastries, sweets, carbonated drinks, tea and coffee. In some cafes-buffets, you can also find hot dishes. For Russian passengers, this type of food is still more popular than visiting dining carriages. Perhaps this is due to the lower cost of products sold there and fast service.
Thus, food in the dining car is quite expensive, but often necessary on long-distance trains. The requirements for food, cooks and waiters in the carriages are so high that they practically rule out the possibility of food poisoning and indigestion. That is why it is worth giving your preference to this way of eating on multi-day trips.