We were asked by Arriva Trains who still run the service from Cardiff to Holyhead on Anglesey to join them on the Gerald of Wales, their premium carriage service to celebrate the launch of the Welsh gin being served on the service from Eccentric Gin.
The Gerald of Wales offers the only first class train service from Cardiff to North Wales offering guests a cooked breakfast or 3 course evening meal, depending on the route and time they travel. With one trip leaving Holyhead at around 6am and the return journey leaving Cardiff Central at 5.15pm Monday to Friday.
Being a regular traveller to Ynys Mon with the other halfs family living there, we either drive or catch a flight, so the thought of sitting in a luxury carriage with a 3 course meal and unwinding with some of the best Welsh Gin sounded very tempting.
As there train wasn’t returning on the Friday evening or running on the weekend, we did half a trip to Shrewsbury with enough time to sample the food menu and taste our way through the growing selection of Eccentric’s catalogue of gins.
We invited @CardiffGinClub onto our premier class service from Cardiff to Holyhead to try some of our new, Welsh gins from @EccentricGin…
— Arriva Trains Wales (@ArrivaTW) August 24, 2018
The morning journey from Holyhead serves a hot Welsh breakfast with the usual cooked breakfast items but we had a choice of three courses for the return journey from Cardiff.
I opted for the pate to start. A healthy wedge of seasoned offaly loveliness wa offered, a few bits of foliage for display and a nice portion of chutney to cut through the richness of the pate.
For mains I went for fish in breadcrumb crust, potatoes, vegetables and herby sauce. The fish was alright actually, tender and flakey. New potatoes…well they do what they say on the tin. The veggies reminded me of the frozen bags you chuck in to boil for a few minutes, which I’m generally not overly fussed on but I will eat them if I’m hungry. The sauce was ok, but felt a bit plastic and not made from scratch. It was needed in the dish though for a bit of moisture for the potatoes and veggies.
Cheese and gin, now that’s a winning combo if there ever was one. A selection of Welsh cheese with variety of crisp eating vessels to choose from.
We were heading close to our final destination on the journey so we had to rush through the cheese board but what I did have certainly hit the spot.
I was no stranger to Eccentric Gin, having attended a tasting event in Cardiff around the same time as setting up Cardiff Gin Club for research purposes and have been a fan ever since.
We also included some of their gin during our live tasting with BBC radio, showcasing the best of Welsh Gins.
The gin menu on board the Arriva Gerarld of Wales has a couple of the Eccentric gins on it such as Cardiff gin, their most popular dry gin on the market.The ever enthusiastic Rob from Eccentric, was more than happy to let us taste our way through their classic range such as Madame Genever, Young Tom, made from redistilled 8% IPA beer and Limbek, made from gin rested in Burgundy barrels giving it a lovely amber hue.
We also got to try some new trial gin’s Rob was working on such as Rhubarb and Violet gin. The bottles came with new branding and stood out with their bright natural colouring compared to their other classic range. I did like the two new ones but I preferred some of their older ones like the Limbek.
This wasn’t fine dinning by any means, but everything we ate was cooked and prepared on a moving train, in what must have been a dinky little kitchen. I struggle to eat a sandwich without tipping it all over me on a train, so hats off to the guys in the kitchen for knocking out what we had to eat, in such a short space of time.
I enjoyed the food and ate all of it, although I had to rush to finish off the cheese board because we got off in Shrewsbury and didn’t do the whole route to Holyhead.
I loved the gins and it was great to catch up with Rob from Eccentric who we’ve spoken to and helped support at our Cardiff Gin Club events from the start and he’s been great in giving us some samples to offer out to people at our talks at Tafwyl in Cardiff Castle, St Fagans Food Festival and The National Eisteddfod in Cardiff Bay last year.
If you are travelling to Anglesey and don’t want the stress of driving through the heart of Wales countryside for nearly 5 hours after work, i’d highly recommend booking a trip on the Gerald of Wales. You can sit back, enjoy some decent food and sip on some fantastic gin with an epic scenic display through Wales.
One thing I would point out though if you’ve never been to Anglesey and plan on visiting a few places whilst your there, organise a hire car for the island in advance.
Everything seems to be very far from each other and I’ve spent most of my weekends there in the car, driving from place to place. There are trains on the island obviously as you will be riding on one but they don’t connect up on the island very well. I’ve not used the local bus service to comment on the service or reliability.