The delicious German state secret: dining onboard Deutsche Bahn

Every year we plan a few big trips together, Timothy and I. When we heard ÖBB’s proposal to launch Nightjet service to Brussels in December 2019 we jumped on the occasion and included a ride back home from Austria to Belgium on the Nightjet after our autumn Berlin, Czechia and Slovakia trip. However as we all know in early 2020 an annoying new coronavirus COVID-19, appeared and shook up travel all over the world. We changed our plans to an itinerary in ‘safe’ Germany including stops in Leipzig, Nuremberg, Regensburg, Munich, Lindau and Garmisch-Partenkirchen from where we would take a short train ride to Innsbruck to board our Nightjet back home.

After a question in German parliament about the availability of restaurants on-board Deutsche Bahn trains and how many times they were out of service and how this related to the income and expense of the railway company, the minister in charge decided to declare this information as a state secret to avoid having to answer. Of course we had to investigate this further and we decided to volunteer to test out the catering on-board DB trains.

As we travelled in First class on Deutsche Bahn ICE services from Brussels via Frankfurt to Leipzig we could make us of the ‘Am Platz‘ service, meaning that an attendant will come around in first class to take your orders for food and beverages and bring them to your seat. Contrary to Thalys and Eurostar this is not a complimentary offer but instead you choose from the menu what you want and pay for it accordingly. In my opinion DB offers a good varied menu without charging over the top prices, so this is more than ok.

On our first part of the journey from Brussels to Cologne we were eager to try out the breakfast options on-board, however as the train overnighted in Brussels there was no food loaded on-board presumably as DB does not contract a caterer in Brussels. As drinks where available we ordered both a tea, which was brought to us swiftly by the very friendly and cheery attendant.

As the train was very lightly loaded and she only had to take care of two coaches she could deliver a very friendly and caring service. Because she knew we were hungry and couldn’t provide us food until catering was loaded in Cologne, she gave us two complimentary DB ‘Lieblingsgast‘ cookies to avoid us starving to death.

When after Cologne there was catering loaded we had two different sandwiches: a dark bread with cheese and coleslaw (very German) and a lighter bread with chicken and pumpkin chutney. Both where delicious and original tastes.

After changing trains in Frankfurt onto the horrid ICE 4 to Leipzig it was time for lunch. As this train was packed even in First class, the single attendant working the three first class coaches couldn’t keep up even though she was running up and down the entire time. It wasn’t after a few stops until a second colleague came to assist here that we could order something. I ordered the meatballs with a potato salad and a rhubarb schorle, while Timothy had a curry sausage with fries (which were surprisingly tasty despite knowing there is no way they were actually fried on-board, that would be a safety hazard). Both dishes where delicious, and well executed.

All meals and drinks are also served on real china and glasses, which we discovered when the train made a swift stop enroute when Timothy was baptised by the glass of water toppling over on him and shattering in pieces when dropping on the floor.  

All in all we were positively surprised by the catering offer on-board DB, but please don’t keep it a secret it is good enough to be shared to the world.

Have you dined on a German train before? Did you like it? Let us know in the comments below!

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