Amtrak Cascades Dining Car

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seat38a

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Jan 26, 2014
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Recently found out that the Cascades used to have a full dining car which is used as communal sitting lounge now. Did anyone ever eat it in it? How was the food? I'm guessing Washington and Oregon didn't want to fund the loses and was scrapped.
 

TVRM610

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Well they still have it to an extent, they call it the Bistro Car and it operates with 2 staff members and they have a much better menu than the typical Amtrak cafe. When I rode about 2 years ago it was an early morning train and I ordered oatmeal and coffee.... The oatmeal was dished out of a pot and was served like in the dining cars, a bowl of oatmeal with little cups of raisins and brown sugar.

Here is the menu- http://www.amtrakcascades.com/images/AmtrakCascadesBistromenu.pdf
 

zephyr17

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I ate in it several times. They had pre-packaged convection oven entrees. It wasn't bad, better than the normal Amcafe stuff, but it wasn't a full dining car, either.
 

fairviewroad

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Jan 13, 2011
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Well they still have it to an extent, they call it the Bistro Car and it operates with 2 staff members and they have a much better menu than the typical Amtrak cafe. When I rode about 2 years ago it was an early morning train and I ordered oatmeal and coffee.... The oatmeal was dished out of a pot and was served like in the dining cars, a bowl of oatmeal with little cups of raisins and brown sugar.

Here is the menu- http://www.amtrakcascades.com/images/AmtrakCascadesBistromenu.pdf
What you've experienced is akin to the traditional "cafe car" found on most Amtrak routes. What the OP is referring to is table service, where a server comes and takes your order at a table. It was offered mostly on the SEA-VAC portion of the route and was discontinued about a decade ago.
 

TVRM610

Conductor
Joined
Apr 30, 2007
Messages
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Well they still have it to an extent, they call it the Bistro Car and it operates with 2 staff members and they have a much better menu than the typical Amtrak cafe. When I rode about 2 years ago it was an early morning train and I ordered oatmeal and coffee.... The oatmeal was dished out of a pot and was served like in the dining cars, a bowl of oatmeal with little cups of raisins and brown sugar.

Here is the menu- http://www.amtrakcascades.com/images/AmtrakCascadesBistromenu.pdf
What you've experienced is akin to the traditional "cafe car" found on most Amtrak routes. What the OP is referring to is table service, where a server comes and takes your order at a table. It was offered mostly on the SEA-VAC portion of the route and was discontinued about a decade ago.
Oh yes, I realized what the OP was referring to. I was pointing out that the Bistro cars offer more than the traditional cafe cars, they didn't switch to the standard Amtrak cafe car when the dining car service was discontinued.
 

seat38a

Conductor
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Jan 26, 2014
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Well they still have it to an extent, they call it the Bistro Car and it operates with 2 staff members and they have a much better menu than the typical Amtrak cafe. When I rode about 2 years ago it was an early morning train and I ordered oatmeal and coffee.... The oatmeal was dished out of a pot and was served like in the dining cars, a bowl of oatmeal with little cups of raisins and brown sugar.

Here is the menu- http://www.amtrakcascades.com/images/AmtrakCascadesBistromenu.pdf
What you've experienced is akin to the traditional "cafe car" found on most Amtrak routes. What the OP is referring to is table service, where a server comes and takes your order at a table. It was offered mostly on the SEA-VAC portion of the route and was discontinued about a decade ago.
Exactly! I wan't to know about the table service. How was the menu?
 

zephyr17

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Jul 22, 2009
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Well they still have it to an extent, they call it the Bistro Car and it operates with 2 staff members and they have a much better menu than the typical Amtrak cafe. When I rode about 2 years ago it was an early morning train and I ordered oatmeal and coffee.... The oatmeal was dished out of a pot and was served like in the dining cars, a bowl of oatmeal with little cups of raisins and brown sugar.

Here is the menu- http://www.amtrakcascades.com/images/AmtrakCascadesBistromenu.pdf
What you've experienced is akin to the traditional "cafe car" found on most Amtrak routes. What the OP is referring to is table service, where a server comes and takes your order at a table. It was offered mostly on the SEA-VAC portion of the route and was discontinued about a decade ago.
Exactly! I wan't to know about the table service. How was the menu?
Generally 2 entrees available, all pre-plated heated and served. They pretty much still offer similar items from the Bistro counter, the main difference is you sat, down, there were tableclothes IIRC, and you have table service.

The food on the Cascades Bistro cars is generally considerably better than the standard AmCafe national menu, and it still is. You just don't get someone taking your order and bringing it to you any more.
 

zephyr17

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Jul 22, 2009
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Also, the only trains the sit-down service was offered on was the 510-517 SEA-VAC round trip. None of the others ever had it. It was subsidized by Washington, the Oregon trains never had it.
 

fairviewroad

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Also, the only trains the sit-down service was offered on was the 510-517 SEA-VAC round trip. None of the others ever had it. It was subsidized by Washington, the Oregon trains never had it.
According to the wikipedia article on the Cascades, the sit-down service was also briefly offered south of Seattle. Indeed, this 1998 timetable

indicates diner service on a SEA-EUG train and a EUG-SEA train.

Whether that actually happened, or existed solely in the land of timetables, I don't know.
 

zephyr17

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It must have been VERY briefly. They had diner service on 510-517 for years and I used it many, many times. They took it off only like 3 or 4 years ago.
 
B

Bus Nut

Guest
I believe the Bistro menu has PNW local food items, such as cheeses. I thought it was great. I would say it's sort of typical of state supported routes to have local food items to showcase. Maine's Downeaster has a food service contractor (not Amtrak) and they showcase local food items. New York state, are you listening?

I liked how casual and fun the Bistro car was. (The interior of the car is beautiful.) Even if you ride the entire length of Cascades it's not that long of a trip. I've done NEC coach end to end and cafe car was fine. (Used to bring a lot of my own snacks, though, as I never did care for microwaved White Castle or microwaved pizza. Give me my tea and my bagel.)
 

seat38a

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Jan 26, 2014
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I found this video

White tablecloth and flowers and all. No shot of the food.
 
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