And you don't even have to go overseas for it.
I may never get to lunch on the Orient Express but a five-course degustation on the Bellarine Peninsula's Q Train must surely be the next best thing - albeit without the black tie and sequins dress code. Thick linen cloths, sparkling silverware, "candlelight", and a steady procession of fine wines and divine dishes offer a more laid-back version of refined escapism.
The Q Train operates on the historic Bellarine Railway, a restored part of a line that in 1879 connected Geelong and Queenscliff on Victoria's Port Phillip bay. Departing from Drysdale for the three-hour return journey to Queenscliff, it's a scenic pootle at 12 kilometres per hour past grapevines, woodland, farms, wetlands and the glorious Swan Bay, with a few pauses at Victorian-era stations to stretch the legs.
Food is the star though and every course is an eyes-rolling-to-the-heavens masterpiece of flavours, sourced mostly from 20 or so local providers (many more if you count the wines, beers and ciders). Warm and whipped "Lard Ass" black garlic butter is smeared thickly onto train-made bread, flakes of Bellarine Smokehouse salmon and Drysdale goat ricotta lose themselves in a creamy lemon myrtle risotto, and the lamb cutlet with mint pickle sauce and bush tomato kimchi is to die for. This isn't "amazing food for a train", it's simply amazing food. That it's all created in the tiny kitchen onboard (no gas stoves, deep fryers or fancy combi ovens here) makes it even more impressive.
For three hours I lose all sense of where I am, surrendering fully to the magical mystery tour. I'm in Q Class - shared with other passengers - but for an intimate experience, go First Class in one of the cosy private compartments for two, where matched drinks are included.
The Q Train offers a distillation of all that is good about the Bellarine - beautiful scenery, history, and bountiful good food and wine. Toot toot! theqtrain.com.au
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