A different approach to dining (VIA)

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crescent-zephyr

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https://www.businessinsider.com/via-rail-the-canadian-great-western-way-meals-food-review-2019-11



“I ate 11 meals prepared in a tiny train kitchen during a 4-day journey across Canada, and I was blown away by how delicious they all were”

We can only HOPE this comes to the main western trains here in the state.
Just a few years ago the meals were pretty comparable. When I rode them back to back I thought breakfasts were a bit nicer on via because of the fancy jam, real syrup and actual toast. The side salads were better and veggies were a little better.

The entrees were pretty comparable with a few Amtrak entrees like the lamb shank and Mahi Mahi better in my opinion than any entrees I was served on via.

VIA diners were more classy, but service was just average compared to Amtrak. Meaning I had far worse on some Amtrak trains, but also far better. Via was just more consistently “ok” rather than the wildly up and down of Amtrak service.
 

Tom Booth

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Just a few years ago the meals were pretty comparable. When I rode them back to back I thought breakfasts were a bit nicer on via because of the fancy jam, real syrup and actual toast. The side salads were better and veggies were a little better.

The entrees were pretty comparable with a few Amtrak entrees like the lamb shank and Mahi Mahi better in my opinion than any entrees I was served on via.

VIA diners were more classy, but service was just average compared to Amtrak. Meaning I had far worse on some Amtrak trains, but also far better. Via was just more consistently “ok” rather than the wildly up and down of Amtrak service.
Our meals on the Ocean last October were great. In a completely different league than Amtrak's food. Everything from soup to nuts was far better. Particularly loved the fish chowder and the Napoleon. I'm speaking of food quality and preparation. The presentation also outdid Amtrak by a mile.
 

crescent-zephyr

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Our meals on the Ocean last October were great. In a completely different league than Amtrak's food. Everything from soup to nuts was far better. Particularly loved the fish chowder and the Napoleon. I'm speaking of food quality and preparation. The presentation also outdid Amtrak by a mile.
Sorry I may not have said that clearly.... a few years ago they were comparable. Meaning what Amtrak offered a few years ago was comparable, imho, to VIA. Now that’s no longer the case, especially the now dreadful east coast trains.

The point I was trying to make is how quickly and drastically Amtrak has fallen.
 

Tom Booth

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Sorry I may not have said that clearly.... a few years ago they were comparable. Meaning what Amtrak offered a few years ago was comparable, imho, to VIA. Now that’s no longer the case, especially the now dreadful east coast trains.

The point I was trying to make is how quickly and drastically Amtrak has fallen.
I was just agreeing with you, though I think that VIA always had an edge. It's now a more pronounced edge.
 
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NS VIA Fan

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Here's Breakfast on VIA's westbound Ocean departing Sainte-Foy (Quebec City) at 6am last Thursday morning. This meal was prepared about 24 hrs earlier, chilled and put on board in Halifax the previous day. Meals are then reheated in Convection Ovens....not Microwaves. There's no Chef onboard to cook the bacon & eggs....but the toast is made fresh!!

20200109_062055
 

Seaboard92

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VIA has proven to provide very consistent service every time I’ve been on it. And it works because the time in the diner is something I look forward to three times a day on board their trains. Something I also think helps VIA provide a superior product is because the menus change with every meal on the Canadian.

I actually begin to anticipate what the menu might have.
 

jiml

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Here's Breakfast on VIA's westbound Ocean departing Sainte-Foy (Quebec City) at 6am last Thursday morning. This meal was prepared about 24 hrs earlier, chilled and put on board in Halifax the previous day. Meals are then reheated in Convection Ovens....not Microwaves. There's no Chef onboard to cook the bacon & eggs....but the toast is made fresh!!

20200109_062055
I had that!
 

jiml

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VIA has proven to provide very consistent service every time I’ve been on it. And it works because the time in the diner is something I look forward to three times a day on board their trains. Something I also think helps VIA provide a superior product is because the menus change with every meal on the Canadian.

I actually begin to anticipate what the menu might have.
The only common items in 6 Ocean meals were the fish chowder at lunch and chocolate cake at dinner - both of which were great, and worth repeating.
 

atm79

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I can't seem to find an answer to this one... I traveled coast to coast for the first time last February and on the Canadian, had three full meals each day. Doing the same coast to coast trip this February and am wondering if something has changed. This article (and other trip reports I've seen lately) mention brunch. So, seems like a continental type offering early in the morning and then a brunch menu mid-day. Is this a change or is this how meals are handled during the peak season?
 

NS VIA Fan

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They were doing this a couple of years ago the last time I rode the Canadian and the Service Manager explained that it was an experiment to get public reaction. He said they were getting complaints from those that wanted to sleep in and then found breakfast over when they got up. Also on days where the long stop at Jasper was just after 12 noon...they were rushing to feed everyone and besides...some wanted an opportunity to sample some of the local 'cuisine' during the stopover there. A 'Beaver Tail' anyone??

Brunch offered both full breakfast and also lunch items so don't worry.....you will not go hungry on the Canadian!
 

crescent-zephyr

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They were doing this a couple of years ago the last time I rode the Canadian and the Service Manager explained that it was an experiment to get public reaction. He said they were getting complaints from those that wanted to sleep in and then found breakfast over when they got up. Also on days where the long stop at Jasper was just after 12 noon...they were rushing to feed everyone and besides...some wanted an opportunity to sample some of the local 'cuisine' during the stopover there. A 'Beaver Tail' anyone??

Brunch offered both full breakfast and also lunch items so don't worry.....you will not go hungry on the Canadian!
When I was on the Canadian many years ago they had Brunch service in the diner and light continental breakfast items in the Park Car. The problem was, as typical we were very very late into Jasper, I think we got in at like 5:00? But we weren't served lunch and we weren't allowed to go a second time to the diner, even if we had breakfast early in the morning and it was now very much lunch time. Many passengers seemed unhappy with this arrangement.

That was my 1 experience with the service so I can't say what it's normally like.
 

zephyr17

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When I rode the Canadian in November, eastbound there was standard, breakfast, lunch, dinner eastbound on 2, except for the last day coming into Toronto where they did brunch, which makes sense given the schedule.

Westbound on 1, it was brunch and dinner each day. I asked the Service Manager about the difference and he said they were going back to 3 meals a day on 1 in the near future. He said they got a lot of complaints about the brunch/dinner every day thing. Including from tour companies.
 

atm79

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Last year's travel was on the old schedule where the three meals were easy to do. Can totally understand the westbound challenges on the new schedule. Glad I'm going eastbound this time!
 

pennyk

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I traveled on the Ocean 7+ years ago and was disappointed with the food. At that time, I thought there were more and better dining choices on Amtrak. However, today I would take the meals on the Ocean over flexible dining, but probably not traditional dining. I have dietary restrictions and I am able to eat off the traditional dining menu, but it was a challenge eating on the Ocean.
 

brianpmcdonnell17

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Does anyone know how the process of making special meal requests in advance works? My dad and I are traveling on the Canadian in berths in March. We're both very picky eaters, and the sample menu looks a little fancy for us. I also have the additional restriction of being a vegetarian. Is there a larger special requests menu or how do we know what is possible to request? Also, is there anywhere on the train where you can get soda? I noticed it wasn't on the dining car menu.
 

Shortline

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If you’re in sleeper plus class, you can request vegetarian meals on the Canadian, as long as you make the request 10 days before departure. I have never done it, but I would think the menu is what it is, probably won’t have much say. If you can’t or won’t eat off the regular menu, or the special vegetarian meals provided, you may want to bring your own of some sort.
 

greatwestern

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Does anyone know how the process of making special meal requests in advance works? My dad and I are traveling on the Canadian in berths in March. We're both very picky eaters, and the sample menu looks a little fancy for us. I also have the additional restriction of being a vegetarian. Is there a larger special requests menu or how do we know what is possible to request? Also, is there anywhere on the train where you can get soda? I noticed it wasn't on the dining car menu.
As shortline stated, you can pre-order vegetarian meals but I would imagine it would not be possible to define the actual composition.

I too am a very picky eater (and the menu is also too fancy for me) so I ended up only going to breakfast/brunch where the fare is less "complicated", but even then I had a little difficulty in persuading them that I needed my toast without butter ! (They were fine actually but did slip up once despite my request).

As I only breakfasted I cannot comment on soda availability at meals but you can access the cafe car where you can purchase sodas/chips/muffins etc. You can access the cafe menus and prices from the Via site.
 

zephyr17

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Last year's travel was on the old schedule where the three meals were easy to do. Can totally understand the westbound challenges on the new schedule. Glad I'm going eastbound this time!
I rode in November 2019 and they were on the current schedule.

It's 2020 now. 2019 is last year, remember?
 

atm79

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I rode in November 2019 and they were on the current schedule.

It's 2020 now. 2019 is last year, remember?
Sorry, I could have been more clear - I was talking about the trip I took last February being on the old schedule.
 

chakk

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The Canadian dining cars offer regular and diet coke, 7-up, and I think ginger ale and soda water at all meals for no charge.
 
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