Amtrak Dining

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20th Century Rider

Conductor
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On my trip to Atlanta going on the Crescent the cafe car person was very nice said I could get what I wanted and it was included in my sleeper price, coming back that attendant said nope!!! So it must depend on who is behind the counter
That's nasty! The only saving grace is - when they withhold the food you paid for, you withhold the tip!
 

me_little_me

Engineer
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Why can't Amtrak have uniform rules systemwide? Is it so difficult? Apparently,it is.
They do. They just don't enforce them. Amtrak would rather give you a voucher when you complain that your SCA or the Diner or cafe attendant did or did not do something they were supposed to than actually fix the problem.

Amtrak's problem is, and has always been, a management problem. The employees get away with violating or ignoring the rules/standards because management doesn't care enough to enforce them and paying off a few complainers with someone else's money is easier than doing the job for which managers were paid.
 

joelkfla

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12 miles from Walt Disney World
For those of us living in the northeast, we have to go across the entire country to experience traditional dining.
We Floridians have to travel north for a day and a night, and then travel cross country! Hopefully the rumors of some form of traditional dining returning to Silver Service this fall are true.
 

fdaley

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Jan 25, 2020
Messages
306
We just got back from a trip on the Coast Starlight OKJ - LAX round trip. Crews seemed happy to have the diner back. I took pictures of the food for all you fellow nerds. I'm hope this is the right thread to post this in, and sorry for splitting it up but there is a 10 image limit per post.

Breakfast 9/7/21 train 11
Here is the menu front and back.




We both had scrambled eggs with cheese and a side of chicken sausage. Served on a white placemat with all plasticware. Pretty decent, I'd probably get it without cheese in the future.

Lunch 9/7/21 train 11

The Artisan Grilled Cheese. Comes with Terra chips and slaw. The slaw was sweet, how I like it. The sandwich was a little burned in one spot and kind of greasy, it was also really cold in one spot. I think that's because of the way it's reheated. Overall, fine.


The Cesar Salad. Dressing is already mixed in. You can add chicken as an option, my partner didn't. Also notice the new flavored seltzer water option, which she liked.

No tablecloth for lunch, just white tablemats and all plasticware like breakfast.


We got cheesecake to go and they asked if we'd like it with optional strawberry drizzle, fresh strawberries, and whip cream. It's was enjoyable, actually the strawberries were our favorite part. Took a bite before we could grab a picture lol.
Thank you for this detailed review and the many photos. It certainly looks and sounds like the dining service west of Chicago (except for the Eagle) has returned to the level I would want to try and could recommend to others. And in some ways it appears better than pre-pandemic.

We are discussing a mid-winter family train trip to California, so this does encourage us. The challenge, of course, is how to get from the Northeast to Chicago; there is no way I would take the Lake Shore or any of the eastern sleeper trains on an overnight trip in their current form.
 
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fdaley

Lead Service Attendant
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Jan 25, 2020
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Why they won’t give you a voucher for the cafe car as an option is beyond me.
On the way back from Maine in June, we booked the accessible bedroom on the Boston section of the Lake Shore from Boston to Albany. No flexible meals were offered; instead, we were told to just order whatever we wanted from the cafe and tell the attendant there that we were in the sleeper. So apparently it's possible to give sleeper passengers complimentary food from the cafe when Amtrak (or perhaps the particular crew) wants to do it that way.
 

lordsigma

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On the way back from Maine in June, we booked the accessible bedroom on the Boston section of the Lake Shore from Boston to Albany. No flexible meals were offered; instead, we were told to just order whatever we wanted from the cafe and tell the attendant there that we were in the sleeper. So apparently it's possible to give sleeper passengers complimentary food from the cafe when Amtrak (or perhaps the particular crew) wants to do it that way.
That’s what they do for the lunch meal between Boston and Albany. Springfield is the furthest west station that’s offered this as I got it when I rode Springfield to the west coast back in June. Pittsfield boarding passengers do not receive this. Dinner after Albany is a flexible dining meal in the viewliner 2 diner. This is not offered for other meals. I’d use a voucher for the lunch meal on other trains but I Personally prefer the flexible dining meal for dinners. The flexible meals are mediocre in my opinion but The cafe car is not really anything to write home about either especially with the current reduced pandemic menu.
 
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fdaley

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Jan 25, 2020
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306
That’s what they do for the lunch meal between Boston and Albany. Springfield is the furthest west station that’s offered this as I got it when I rode Springfield to the west coast back in June. Pittsfield boarding passengers do not receive this. Dinner after Albany is a flexible dining meal in the viewliner 2 diner. This is not offered for other meals. I’d use a voucher for the lunch meal on other trains but I Personally prefer the flexible dining meal for dinners. The flexible meals are mediocre in my opinion but The cafe car is not really anything to write home about either especially with the current reduced pandemic menu.
It's just interesting that they've chosen to do it this way for Springfield and east on this one train, even though on most runs Amtrak seems strictly opposed to allowing sleeper passengers complimentary items from the cafe.

The flex breakfast to me is truly awful and doesn't even qualify as breakfast. I could manage better with stuff from the cafe, though that's not a great option either. For dinner, I don't find either option acceptable. So if we go out west in February, we'll probably just drive from upstate New York to Michigan or South Bend -- somewhere where we can stay over and get a morning train into Chicago. I'm just not sure we're up for that much of a car trip. If we decide not to go, the lousy options east of Chicago will be why.
 

fdaley

Lead Service Attendant
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Jan 25, 2020
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The flex breakfast was my favorite flex meal. I could at least eat Cheerios, yogurt, and a piece of fruit and feel ok about that life decision. The plastic salt filled TV dinners? No thanks!
I'm with you on the "plastic salt filled TV dinners." The breakfast offerings are probably healthier, if you don't eat the Jimmy Dean hockey puck. But with the other breakfast offerings, I find that I'm hungry about an hour later.
 

Rasputin

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Jan 17, 2019
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On my trip to Atlanta going on the Crescent the cafe car person was very nice said I could get what I wanted and it was included in my sleeper price, coming back that attendant said nope!!! So it must depend on who is behind the counter
I recall one round trip a few years ago on the Boston - Albany stub train which operated during the Albany yard reconstruction. If you were travelling by sleeper on 48/49 west of Albany you were entitled to a meal from the cafe car of the stub train. On my trip on the westbound stub train, I was entitled to a sandwich, a beverage and a bag of chips. Eastbound the entitlement was the sandwich and beverage but no chips.
 

Dakota 400

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The Artisan Grilled Cheese. Comes with Terra chips and slaw. The slaw was sweet, how I like it. The sandwich was a little burned in one spot and kind of greasy, it was also really cold in one spot. I think that's because of the way it's reheated. Overall, fine.
I am impressed with the thickness of this sandwich. It would need to be thoroughly--and carefully--heated for it to be warm/hot throughout. It really does look good.
 

Winecliff Station

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Apr 10, 2019
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Hudson Valley
We Floridians have to travel north for a day and a night, and then travel cross country! Hopefully the rumors of some form of traditional dining returning to Silver Service this fall are true.
I'm sorry, I keep forgetting there is no connection from Florida to New Orleans even though it has been what, over 15 years? As for Silver traditional dining, I heard that same rumor, about Silvers and LSL, but I have become a bit of a cynic about all things Amtrak so I am not counting on it. If it does happen it will be a nice surprise.
 

lordsigma

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It's just interesting that they've chosen to do it this way for Springfield and east on this one train, even though on most runs Amtrak seems strictly opposed to allowing sleeper passengers complimentary items from the cafe.

The flex breakfast to me is truly awful and doesn't even qualify as breakfast. I could manage better with stuff from the cafe, though that's not a great option either. For dinner, I don't find either option acceptable. So if we go out west in February, we'll probably just drive from upstate New York to Michigan or South Bend -- somewhere where we can stay over and get a morning train into Chicago. I'm just not sure we're up for that much of a car trip. If we decide not to go, the lousy options east of Chicago will be why.
It’s probably a matter of not wanting stuff to sell out. There really isn’t anything different in the cafe for breakfast except maybe a jimmy dean breakfast bowl and possibly a bagel - a lot of the flex breakfast stuff is the same offered in the cafe such as the breakfast sandwich and muffins.
 
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20th Century Rider

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I'm with you on the "plastic salt filled TV dinners." The breakfast offerings are probably healthier, if you don't eat the Jimmy Dean hockey puck. But with the other breakfast offerings, I find that I'm hungry about an hour later.
Next month I will be in 'Flex Meals Fantasy Land' for a good portion of an October Amtrak sojourn and intend to order kosher... will also bring along some peanut butter, a grainy bread... and try to survive. Another strategy when walking around a town is to pick up a few of those complete salad kits. But I won't hesitate to turn away those highly processed carcinogenic casseroles and the endless brownies... if the kosher meals don't come through. IMHO that stuff just ain't good for you!
 

20th Century Rider

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OMG I love the blondies.... sometimes it is the only thing in the entire meal worth eating.
I love them too for the first and maybe second meals... but anything can become tiring after a while... will be riding the Crescent down to NOL from NYP, then back up to CHI on the CONO. I think that's about 4 or 5 casserole lunches and dinners and two breakfasts... and a lot of sitting. BTW - two more rides to cross off the bucket list with a lot of interesting scenery :) :)
 

fdaley

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It’s probably a matter of not wanting stuff to sell out. There really isn’t anything different in the cafe for breakfast except maybe a jimmy dean breakfast bowl and possibly a bagel - a lot of the flex breakfast stuff is the same offered in the cafe such as the breakfast sandwich and muffins.
At least before the pandemic, there was a much better quality breakfast sandwich than the Jimmy Dean available in the NEC cafe cars, but it wasn't offered to sleeper passengers as a flex breakfast item in the "sleeper lounge" (i.e. former dining) cars. I think I had one of these sandwiches on an Acela trip this summer too.
 

lordsigma

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At least before the pandemic, there was a much better quality breakfast sandwich than the Jimmy Dean available in the NEC cafe cars, but it wasn't offered to sleeper passengers as a flex breakfast item in the "sleeper lounge" (i.e. former dining) cars. I think I had one of these sandwiches on an Acela trip this summer too.
There isn’t now. It’s the jimmy dean. NEC cafe car right now has jimmy dean and packaged blueberry muffin - the exact same as flexible dining and national cafe car. Also all the “fresh” items were axed in the pandemic (the deli sandwiches and salads.) NEC cafe car is basically jimmy dean, blueberry muffin, oven pride burger, Hebrew national hot dog, personal pizza, and the snack items - national cafe has a few more items like breakfast bowl, bagel, donut holes, cup of noodles, chicken wings, and Mac and cheese.
 
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