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Linda-Marie Singer is The Live Wire

Linda-Marie Singer - Click to Enlarge

The Colonial Tramcar Restaurant
Hardly Your Meals on Wheels

Click to Enlarge By Linda-Marie Singer

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The Colonial Tramcar Restaurant clicking and clacking along the streets of Melbourne.  Click to Enlarge. 
The Colonial Tramcar Restaurant clicking and clacking along the streets of Melbourne.  Click to Enlarge.
Melbourne, Australia: "Australians visit us nearly four times a year," proclaims steward David Outram on board The Colonial Tramcar Restaurant in Melbourne, the world's only traveling dining tramcar. 

But before we can ask him why the steady clientele, we're handed a menu that highlights Pepper Crusted Kangaroo and Slices of Tasmanian Salmon. As we read on, he pours us a glass of the bubbly. 

What a civilized way to begin our three-hour jaunt aboard The Colonial Tramcar Restaurant that has gained, shall we say, momentum since its 1983 debut. In fact, this restaurant on wheels is tinged with that famed Orient Express look -- plush burgundy velvet on teak bench seats, and gold etched mirrors. 

Dining on board The Colonial Tramcar Restaurant. Hardly your meals on wheels
Dining on board The Colonial Tramcar Restaurant. Hardly your meals on wheels
Boarding adjacent to the Melbourne Exhibition Centre and the new Crown Casino, the tram clicks and clacks past the famed Victorian Arts Centre, then crosses the Princess Bridge to the bright lights of Flinders Street Station. Soon it's onto the popular Toorak Road known for its trendy boutiques, outdoor cafes and local restaurants. 

Depending upon the duration of the trip, you could shuttle by a few of Melbourne's well-known suburbs named Toorak, Malvern, Balaclava, and Caulfield. 

But now it's time to celebrate a birthday. "Oh, obviously it must be yours, Madame," the steward says addressing a woman who can't stop blushing as her friends serenade with song. The waiter, decked out in a crisp dinner jacket, asks whether they've been on the tram before. "Yes!" they chime in enthusiastically. "This is our fourth time!"

Outram offers a bottle of an Australian award winning cabernet sauvignon. "You see, after one ride, Aussies generally reserve again for anniversaries, birthdays, and all kinds of get-togethers." But the locals aren't the only ones to book a meal on wheels. Over the years, 90% of all customers have come from overseas, predominantly from Japan and America. Just how popular is this ride? There's generally a four-month wait for seats. Take that Alain Ducasse.

You may wonder why all the fuss about a tram ride along the streets of Melbourne, and that's when the words five star come to mind. Although you won't hear Tony Bennett singing about "little cable cars climbing half-way to the stars," the ride does provide exclusivity echoing back to the days when service meant attention to detail.

Both David Outram and his co-steward Egon Weiss have been working round-trips for nearly a decade, and understand what it takes to make the customer happy. It's not just the royal-like surroundings - a turn of the century Victorian motif, but it's also the touch of class as a pure white tablecloth drapes over an inventive spill-proof table. Yet once you've gazed at the glamour, it's really what's on the table that counts, and that includes an abundant supply of award winning Australian wine and champagne.

Riding along a one hundred and thirty-five mile track, virtually no two rides are alike. But then that was the concept of restaurateur-romantic Craig Opie who favors bowed-satin ceilings, burgundy carpets, starched linen, and the finest crockery and cutlery. Opie's notion succeeded in determining whether Melbournites, especially, would find this idea somewhat charming. And so they have.

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For more information contact:

The Colonial Tramcar Restaurant
P.O. Box 372
South Melbourne, Victoria 3205, Australia

Phone: 03-9696 4000
Fax: 03-9696 3787
Email: Tram@ocean.com.au 

Operating Daily Timetable and Price Schedule:

Lunch. 1:00-3:00am. Price $27.00. (four course meal)
Early Dinner. 5:45-7:15pm. Price $22.00. (three course meal)
Dinner (Sunday-Thursday). 8:35-11:30pm. Price $35.00. (five course meal)
Dinner (Friday-Saturday). 8:35-11:30pm. Price $45.00. (five course meal)

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Linda-Marie Singer "The LIVEWIRE" for Travel Watch. Former President of the International Food, Wine & Travel Writers Association, and created the national writers conference, "The Days of Wine & Proses." She is a travel and entertainment reporter living in the San Francisco Bay Area. (More about this writer.)

Email: lindamari@aol.com - Web: http://www.i.am/lindamarie  

 

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