It's a lovely scenic trip, and the staff (who are almost all volunteers) are all dressed the part as well - makes for a very fun day out. Definitely a tourist activity, but we are tourists here, after all!
As part of the Puffing Billy experience you can have lunch on board - there's a dining carriage - but we opted to check out some of the local fare in Belgrave instead. We popped into Soul Train, as it had an alluring range of baked goodies on the counter (I always approve of that sort of thing!) and the menu looked good.
I ordered a hearty-sounding burger and Mr Cake went for a yummy sounding sandwich/panini. We were a bit ahead of the lunch trade, and there was only one staff member in the cafe - but when we entered we were the only customers. He popped downstairs to the kitchen to put in the order and before too long my burger appeared. By this point there was another group of customers, and he evidently was chief in charge of sandwich making himself, so Mr Cake's lunch took a lot longer to get to us. It was worth the wait though - simple but good, the contents were salami, olives and cheese, and the combination was excellent - good quality ingredient = yummy lunch!
My burger was fantastic. Note the fries inside it; though I often do this myself this is how the burger came! The burger had a hearty beef pattie and bacon, and the salad was on the side so you could make the burger leafy if you preferred. It was a pretty big lunch - Mr Cake helped with the fries while he was waiting for his meal, and I probably shouldn't have finished it (my belly complained a bit!) but it was too good to leave on the plate.
All in all it was a lovely day out, and I recommend both the Puffing Billy and Soul Train if you're in Melbourne - though perhaps if you're like me and a fiend for sweet things you should share a burger, as I didn't have any room left for the biscuits and cakes on display!
Puffing Billy departs several times a day from the Puffing Billy Belgrave Station, 1 Old Monbulk Road, Belgrave, www.puffingbilly.com.au
Soul Train is located at 1698 Burwood Highway, Belgrave, ph 03 9754 3747