The Breakfast Menu Breakfast reviews from the South Coast and beyond


Cinders Buffet, The Lavender Line, Isfield

Cinders Buffet [map]
The Lavender Line
Isfield Station
Near Uckfield
East Sussex
TN22 5XB
Tel:  01825 750515

Opening Times: Breakfast is available from 9:00am every Sunday and they are also open on bank holidays and some additional special events days.  On many Saturdays during the year the railway is used for steam footplate training courses and the cafe will be open.  Ring ahead to avoid disappointment.

Last Visited: April 2010

Lured in by the tempting manly offer of stoking a boiler, buffing an engine and a cracking fry-up after, we ventured into darkest East Sussex to visit one of the country's last independent steam railways.  Steam, sausages and shenanigans, what more could you want from a day out!


I'd like to make it clear from the very beginning that I am not a train enthusiast and have never been found on the end of a platform with a notebook jotting down train numbers and makes.  My visit to the Lavender Line railway came about as a friend, aware of our website, suggested coming down to visit whilst he volunteered one Saturday morning. I was told that a "First Class" breakfast awaited me.  But what I didn't count on was that I would be forced to work for it.  But a breakfast earned, is a breakfast savoured.

As an independent steam railway overseen by volunteers of the Lavender Line Preservation Society since its re-opening in 1991, the line relies on their vital support to maintain and run the trains for visitors on their private 1 mile track.  So for the morning I helped the lines volunteers prep a train for start up and soon found out it's not as easy as you think.  Heating the boiler from cold is a long and careful process.  As the cast iron furnace cannot be heated up too quickly and if it is it will expand and crack, ruining the boiler.  So carefully wood is added to the fire, tanks filled with water and coal loaded into the cab and just 4 short hours later the train is ready to finally move off.

My reward for helping to get the train ready for its adventures that day was a short ride in the trains cab to a converted ticket hall which was the home of the station's cafe, the Cinders Buffet.  The décor within had been carefully restored to reflect its former use with stations signs adorning the walls and a welcoming open fireplace heating the room.

Usually only open on a Sunday or on selected Saturdays, I was lucky to get a chance to sample their wares.   Though the menu was simple (the small breakfast was £3.99 and a large £4.99), the large selection of items offered (bacon, eggs, black pudding, chips, plum tomatoes, mushrooms, beans and fried bread) made the breakfast very good value.

When my 'large breakfast' arrived it was clear that I had not put enough effort-in outside to account for all the calories I was about to intake.  The breakfast had certainly lived up to its name.  High points of the breakfast were the thick rashers of bacon and it's chunky chips.  I was a little disappointed with the sausages, but I am told that on a Sunday when the station is open to the general public they use sausages from a local butcher.  So if you visit then you can expect a better quality product, but saying this they were still far better than some I've tried in my time.  Each breakfast is cooked to order and mine was also accompanied by a cracking cup of tea.  It was indeed worthy of a mornings hard(ish) work.

Open all year round, a visit to the Lavender Line is a not only great chance to help keep alive one of the last remaining legacies from Britain's golden age and support people passionate about steam engines.  But is also a perfect excuse to enjoy another British tradition, a fry-up.  Get a ticket and go see for yourself.  "All aboard!"

Mr NoEggs

Portion Size: ★★★★☆
Value For Money: ★★★★☆
Service: ★★★★☆
Ingredient Quality: ★★★☆☆
Overall: ★★★★☆