Enjoy afternoon tea at Carriages - the stunning new restaurant created from railway carriages in Fen Drayton, Cambridgeshire

PUBLISHED: 07:30 18 February 2018 | UPDATED: 10:35 22 February 2018

From left, Alex Adomete and owner Michael Attle at Carriages. Picture: Keith Heppell

From left, Alex Adomete and owner Michael Attle at Carriages. Picture: Keith Heppell

Iliffe Media Ltd

Come aboard and celebrate the golden age of rail travel

From left Alex Adomete and owner Michael Attle. Picture: Keith HeppellFrom left Alex Adomete and owner Michael Attle. Picture: Keith Heppell

Following more than four years of work, the restaurant opened on Tuesday, February 13, off Huntingdon Road in Fen Drayton, offering up to 100 diners the chance to eat out in style at a purpose-built railway station.

On the menu is freshly prepared premium afternoon tea made from locally-sourced and homegrown ingredients, served in three railway carriages, each offering a different dining experience.

The station masters behind the project are Michael Attle, owner of natural stone and hard landscaping business Bannold Supplies & Services on the same site, and Alex Adomete.

Alex told the Cambridge Independent: “It came about through Michael being offered a parcel of stone, and when he bought it he realised it was like a railway station platform.

A stunning afternoon tea awaits at Carriages of Cambridge. Picture: Martin BondA stunning afternoon tea awaits at Carriages of Cambridge. Picture: Martin Bond

“He decided to build a railway station in what is basically his backyard – the display gardens of Bannold’s. This is a new venture for him, branching out into catering.”

Alex continued: “I came on board because we had a very similar mindset. I’ve been in the food service market for 30 years, in a sales and marketing capacity, and my wife and I set up a gourmet food truck called Holy Schnitzels.

“Michael was looking for somebody to help set up this project and get it going, and I decided it would be a very good challenge – something new for my CV.

“Michael and I both appreciate good food and good service and we thought if we can get those ingredients right in an atmosphere that is very suitable for this sort of afternoon dining, then we should have reasonable success.”

The platform was built first, then the rest of the station and signal box followed – but one key element was still missing.

“Michael contacted some railway associations to try to get some carriages and he came up with three – one of which is called ‘Louis’,” said Alex.

The carriage is named after Louis Mountbatten, a British naval officer and statesman, uncle of Prince Philip and second cousin once removed to the Queen.

“It was one of the carriages in his funeral cortege,” said Alex. “When he was moved from London down to Romsey where he was laid to rest, that was one of the railway carriages that was used. They were all very meticulously restored to a Pullman-style standard.

Carriages of Cambridge restaurant. Picture: Martin BondCarriages of Cambridge restaurant. Picture: Martin Bond

“Michael even went to the trouble of actually finding people who worked for Pullman to come and help with the refurbishment.”

Alex said the plan is to start with premium afternoon teas, which will be served at 1pm and 3pm, from Tuesday to Saturday, before then moving on to offer light lunches.

“We’ll be serving a cream tea, an afternoon tea and also a high tea.”

The restaurant will use local suppliers, eggs from 60 chickens living on the site and fruit and vegetables grown in the Victorian greenhouses of the kitchen garden.

Carriages of Cambridge restaurant has taken more than four years of work. Picture: Martin BondCarriages of Cambridge restaurant has taken more than four years of work. Picture: Martin Bond

“The thing about this is it’s totally unique, in where it is and what is here,” said Alex. “It’s not a given that it’s going to be successful, but I think we’ve got all the ingredients here for it to be something really special.”

And while you won’t be turned away for not wearing period costume, it might be an idea to dust down a trilby for the occasion.

Visit the website at carriagestearooms.co.uk to book, or call 01954 233279 or search for Carriages of Cambridge on Facebook.

Different train carriages offer different dining experiences at  Carriages in Fen Drayton. Picture: Martin BondDifferent train carriages offer different dining experiences at Carriages in Fen Drayton. Picture: Martin Bond

The Menus

Carriages Cream Tea

• Two freshly baked scones, served with Cornish clotted cream and a selection of homemade jam or lemon curd

The tempting selection at CarriagesThe tempting selection at Carriages

• Accompanied with a choice of single estate loose leaf teas or single origin coffees. Gluten free choices available.

• Prices from £7.50

Carriages Afternoon Tea

Afternoon tea at CarriagesAfternoon tea at Carriages

A selection of gourmet sandwiches:

• Smoked salmon and caper butter

• Rosegate Farm ham and piccalilli

• Mature cheddar & homemade pickle

High tea at CarriagesHigh tea at Carriages

• Cucumber and dill cream cheese

• Two freshly baked scones: Orange blossom and raisins fruit scone and plain scone, served with Cornish clotted cream or butter and home-grown strawberry jam

• A selection of petit fours made with our own free range eggs

• Accompanied by a choice of single estate loose leaf teas or single origin coffees

• Gluten-free choices available

• Add a perfectly chilled glass of champagne for £10 per head

• Prices from £21.50

Carriages High Tea

• Soup of the day served with a savoury scone

Select one of the following choices:

• Rosegate Farm Club sandwich and sea salted fries

• Vegetarian quiche, goats cheese, cherry tomato & basil, salad (*GF) and sea salted fries

• Rosegate eight-hour slow cooked pulled pork gourmet sausage roll

• Black Notley rump steak and blue cheese ciabatta sandwich served with sea salted fries

• Chorizo and caramelised onion quiche served with salad and sea salted fries

• Aubergine moussaka (vegan) and salad

• A selection of petit fours made with our own free range eggs

• Accompanied by a choice of single estate loose leaf teas or single origin coffees.

• Add a mini bottle (20cl) of Prosecco for £7 per head.

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