Bustronome is a great deal better than it has any right to be.
Aimed squarely at the well-heeled tourism market, the bus-based fine-dining experience takes guests on a leisurely tour of the top London sights.
Persuaded to attend by my partner, it is fair to say I boarded with some apprehension.
I had visions of cold prawn-cocktail starters, tepid water and limited alcohol – but I was pleasantly surprised.
After the obligatory selfie as we pass the red velvet rope on arrival, we are quickly upstairs and seated.
Service throughout is top quality, worthy of a gourmet restaurant, and is all the more impressive as it is delivered on a moving, rocking vehicle.
The high-spec bus is like a moving goldfish bowl, with windows covering the entirety of the roof and offering great views of the city as they pass.
Audio pens on each table also offer a running commentary for those who want to find out more – no droning announcements over the Tannoy here.
There are only 38 seats, so the experience is relatively exclusive, while the kitchen is at the rear of the lower deck, together with a cloakroom and guest loo.
The tour starts at Embankment and heads east to Tower Bridge, before making a figure-of-eight and heading back to take in the Royal Albert Hall.
The London Eye, Shard, Westminster and Buckingham Palace also included on the itinerary.
Of course, it is the food that will make or break Bustronome, and at £150 per person, there is quite a lot to live up to.
Luckily executive chef Olivier Ruiz has excelled, providing a London twist on an experience that was originally launched in Paris five years ago.
Each course has been designed to reflect the seasonal availability of ingredients available in the capital.
As such we start with Forman’s cure smoked haddock and eel, served with English heritage beetroot, cucumber pickle and lemon cream.
At this point you begin to question if you have ever had such delicious food on a bus, and while that late-night kebab might have been tasty, this is a different league.
Next up is garlic, rosemary and sun-blushed tomato cheesecake with onion compote and Cecina crisp, which is again delightful.
As we roll down the Stand interested onlookers gawp at us tucking into our appetisers, and throughout there is a certain curiosity from passers-by.
Most entertaining of all is when the Bustronome bus pulls up alongside a normal London Routemaster and it is possible to compare the two experiences – I certainly know where I would rather be!
The first of two mains, pan fried cod with civet-off mussels, purple broccoli and pearl vegetables, slips down nicely, followed by a glass or two of white wine.
Next, chicken ballotine stuffed with fine lamb mousse and tarragon, pomme fondant, carrots, pea puree and morel sauce is the main attraction.
Sadly, this is the only course that leaves a little to be desired, arriving as it does a little lukewarm – but that is the only real disappointment of the night.
I am also helpfully informed the ballotine is inspired by that served at the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana after their marriage at St Paul’s – so there is that!
Two desserts - apricot stilton with apple and celery compote and roasted figs followed by a strawberry trifle with vanilla custard ice cream - round out the meal.
Trifle, as we all surely know, was one of Queen Victoria’s favourites, alongside the sponge named after her.
Dishes are paced to accompany the progress of the bus, so as we sip our coffee, we arrive back at Embankment ready to disembark.
A rewarding experience and a real surprise – highly recommended.
Bustronome is a high-end double-decker bus that stands out for its panoramic dining room.
It is a delightful way to discover food and wine while (re)visiting the most beautiful monuments of a cultural capital.
Find out more on the official website.