In short, if you want to spend an evening seeing the scenery along the St. Lawrence River north of Quebec City and eating a gourmet dinner, this is an attraction you will enjoy. I would rate it highly and you will be very satisfied. I apologize for the long review, but provide information others might want to know since this is a new offering.
I had researched the train ahead of the trip and learned of the recently added dinner train, but found that, much to my surprise, I would be taking the first trip since it was a new offering according to the website. Apparently the train is owned and operated by a company that operates the hotel up the line and uses it to transport guests as well as feed them en route. Since I would have appreciated others' experience prior to coming, I will write more than I normally would so as to share with the greater community. First thing you will notice after making your reservation on the web is that you will get an email requesting a menu selection. I sense they prefer to have reservations made more than a few days in advance so as to make the selection and prepare for the guests. I had forgotten my selections, so the first tip I will offer you is to write down your menu selections "just in case." However, I will tell you that they did remember and I was very pleased that they did. They are also very serious about allergies - if you tell them, they will remember. They ask you to be at the departure station - which is the Falls visitor center - 45 minutes prior to train departure which for our train was 7:30PM (19:30). I agree with some of the earlier comments that it seemed to me that this amount of early arrival time was not necessary, however I can also understand that the train staff needs to make time for any last minute adjustments which I will talk more about. The falls was not on my agenda to visit but after the brief exposure, I would go back to see more of them on a subsequent trip to Quebec City.
You are called to your train by car number and seat number. The car number will probably remain the same, but be prepared for a slight change in seat number. I got the sense that there is no recollection on the part of the train staff of whether you reserved your party in groups of two, four or eight, but they seem to observe how you board and if you are close to another group, they may make the assumption you are together. I am only assuming this, but this is what appeared to be in my case since my friend and I were seated with another group while there were other tables available where we could have been seated independently. We did not mind and this worked out fine for us as you will see. My take on this is that if you prefer to sit with someone, say so. I also need to say that the tables do not move nor do the seats. Therefore, if you are larger in proportion such as myself with a 44 inch waistline, be prepared to have the table close to you. (Most dinner trains I have ridden had fixed tables but chairs - like the dining cars of old. I think management could make an improvement by looking into adding another inch or two between seat and table.) Another consideration you may wish to make is to be prepared for being seated an extended period of time on the bench seat. It is not uncomfortable, but if you have a sensitive bottom, it could become uncomfortable. I am reminded of the small air cushion I sometimes carry for long airplane trips - makes for a more pleasant trip, but remember the table and size it accordingly. The trip leaves at 19:30 and is scheduled to return at 23:00 - that's 4 and one-half hours of sitting. It is not a trip that is conducive to getting up and moving around as the staff is feeding the guests and moving around in the aisles. There are rest rooms on board for guests, which may make for a good excuse to get up and stretch a bit. I might add that I suspected that the staff deliberately seated those of us it sensed might be tight in space on the aisle side which was a most welcome consideration - hence my earlier comment that you need to be prepared to be flexible. I am sure the staff is looking to make everyone as comfortable as possible.
Having spent time on some of the more mundane details - which I would have liked to have known ahead of time - let me now get into the scenery and food. Both are sumptuous. As the train progresses along its journey, iPads are positioned at each table to illustrate exactly what is being seen and render some perspective to the view. Explanations are offered and a small map shows the train's progress. The views outside the windows while it is daylight are fabulous and it is daylight on the first half of the trip. I assure you that if you want to see the River views, this is an excellent vantage point as I don't think there is any way a highway can come close. The rails were constructed on this route immediately beside the river bank and the cliffs at some points making the scenery spectacular and special. The food was absolutely wonderful. The care of preparation, presentation and taste was every bit as good as what you would expect at a higher end restaurant. In fact, based on some of the other meals we experienced on this trip, I would say the food alone was of high value, but to include the fantastic scenery and the rail cruise - fantastic. In my own personal opinion, the value is very good. The desert I had which was Chocolate and Hazelnut - too many ingredients to mention - was to die for. My main course was the veal - and it was delicious. The staff also offered alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks for an extra charge. Note that you should have your credit or debit card handy as they do not accept cash on board the train. (This is like many airlines, today.) The service was excellent and one of the best things about the whole trip. The staff resembles that of a high end restaurant and all work effectively together as a team. All in all, the dining experience was superb.
In the case of our trip, which was apparently the maiden run, the decision was made to take some hotel guests to the hotel which meant that the excursion would be longer than usual. Instead of returning at 23:00, we ended up returning at 00:15. I had heard the staff talking about this just before we departed the station. My advice is to ask the staff when you check in about the expected return time.
As I indicated above, we were seated with some French Canadians who were absolutely delightful people. They understood we did not speak French, but the husband had worked in a job prior to his retirement where he traveled to, of all places, Chicago rather frequently. So not only did he understand my English, he could appreciate my Chicago accent. His wife could understand most English (and her husband translated the more challenging parts) and we really had a wonderful conversation and were exceedingly happy with this outcome. It just added to the experience. His bilingual skills came in handy when I had to call the driver who had arranged to pick us up at 23:00 to advise him that it would be 00:00 on the return. (As it turned out, the driver had called ahead and knew this when he discharged us at the station - he indicated he would see us at 00:00 - but we insisted it would be 23:00 not knowing about the change in plan for this one night. Hence the need to call him.) The driver did not speak English well and I do not need to tell you that it is bad enough having to deal with patchy cell phone calls as it is, let alone language differences.
Would I do this trip again? In a heartbeat! This was a fantastic excursion and you will love it. If you don't speak any French, do not worry - the great staff does and they will take very good care of you. You will love the food, you will enjoy the scenery, and you will love riding the train. This turned out to be one of the highlights of the trip to Quebec City. If you do not have a car, your hotel can arrange a transfer for you as ours did so you can enjoy this. I am so sorry to make this so long, but given that this is relatively new, I thought more is better this time. Enjoy!
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC