My husband and I went on the Essex Clipper Dinner Train on a Saturday evening at the end of our 7-day vacation through New England. The experience takes you back to the heyday of elegant train travel complete with conductors in the old uniforms stamping your ticket, dinner servers dressed in tuxedos, white linen tablecloths, fresh flowers, candles, and fine china. The river scenery and fall folliage along the river route were beautiful, although after the first hour and a half, it was dark and the scenery was irrelevant. We, being a two-party table, were seated on the left side (as you face the front engine) of the train, while most of the good scenery was on the right side, where only four-in-a-party were seated. The train does not turn around (the engine moves to the other end of the train when it reaches the end of the line), so you still are looking across the train out the other side window across other diners. We were fortunate as there was no one seated at the table next to us, so we had a clear view, but other than that one empty table, all the twosomes on our side of the train were looking out the windows through other people. I would recommend that if you go, try to find another couple so you can sit on the "good" side of the train. The only other complaint we had was that the servers took drink orders before the train left the station, which was OK as we expected that by the time drinks were served, we would be under way--not so, the salads were served before leaving the station, and before the drinks arrival some 20 minutes into the trip. That was the only thing that seemed odd. The dinners were absolutely delicious. My husband had prime rib (which was no less than 1 inch thick and filled the plate), while I had the stuffed chicken (stuffed with apple stuffing and topped with a cranberry glaze). Roasted potatoes and fresh steamed green beans also accompanied the entrees. Dessert was a generous portion of chocolate mouse cake. topped with whipped cream. Yummmmm to everything. While the cost of the trip was $75 per person, I didn't think that was overpriced, considering you would probably pay at least $50 to $60 in a good restaurant for a similar meal. Wine was $6 per glass and tip envelopes were on each table for patrons to leave whatever tip they wished. Reservations are made on-line, and when you arrive, you go directly to the train where they match your name to their reservation list, you are assigned a numbered table, and then escorted to your table on the train. The whole thing was very well organized, was a great experience and would highly recommend it to anyone living in or visiting the Essex area.
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