Amtrak dining

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Bob Dylan

50+ Year Amtrak Rider
Joined
May 31, 2009
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24,376
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Austin Texas
An imaginary conversation between the LSA and the Conductor, then between the Conductor and the Engineer:

LSA: Mr. Conductor, we need to make a grocery stop when the train passes through city X. There is a grocery store next to the tracks.

Conductor: I'll contact our Engineer.

Conductor: Mr. Engineer, there is a grocery store in city X next to the tracks. Please make a stop there so that our LSA can make a grocery run and replenish the dining car's supplies.

Engineer: Will do. Ask the LSA to pick up a bag of potato chips for me. I need a snack.
When the Diner Crew used to get off the Eagle @ Austin ( resulting in "Dinner" being served very Early and "Breakfast"being a Boxed Meal)the Crew used to shop @ Local Markets and board with great ingredients for Crew Meals that the Excellent Chefs on that route would prepare.

I was fortunate enough to be invited several times to share these feasts when I was a frequent rider on the Northbound Eagle and knew all the Crews, most of whom are now retired or working other routes!
 

Maverickstation

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Mar 2, 2017
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330
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Boston, MA (Eastie)
Helping a friend navigate the Amtrak website in general, and Amtrak Food Facts in particular we had an interesting discovery.
While Food Facts is far from perfect, it does help people who need to monitor issues like sodium in take make smart choices.

At first we could not figure out why the scrambled eggs, with potatoes was so high in sodium (they way the potatoes are made, perhaps), then I noticed, Amtrak is not using fresh cracked eggs as they were in pre-COVID traditional dining service.


Ken
 

neroden

Engineer
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Feb 23, 2014
Messages
9,549
Location
Ithaca, NY
Helping a friend navigate the Amtrak website in general, and Amtrak Food Facts in particular we had an interesting discovery.
While Food Facts is far from perfect, it does help people who need to monitor issues like sodium in take make smart choices.

At first we could not figure out why the scrambled eggs, with potatoes was so high in sodium (they way the potatoes are made, perhaps), then I noticed, Amtrak is not using fresh cracked eggs as they were in pre-COVID traditional dining service.


Ken

That also shows that they're adding milk to the eggs for no readily explicable reason. (Which makes them inedible for my dairy-allergic friends.)
 
Joined
Jan 9, 2021
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798
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Boston
Is the westbound Empire Builder Seattle Section serving breakfast in the morning just before arrival?
When purchasing my ticket, I noticed the Portland section was about $400 more expensive than the Seattle section. I figured this is not for the food, given the diner is coming to Seattle.
 

Cal

Engineer
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Jan 23, 2021
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Socal
Is the westbound Empire Builder Seattle Section serving breakfast in the morning just before arrival?
According to Amtrak they do, I believe I've seen videos of them serving breakfast before.

When purchasing my ticket, I noticed the Portland section was about $400 more expensive than the Seattle section. I figured this is not for the food, given the diner is coming to Seattle.
Probably due to the lower amount of rooms available, buckets are higher.
 
Joined
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Messages
637
Location
PHX
That also shows that they're adding milk to the eggs for no readily explicable reason. (Which makes them inedible for my dairy-allergic friends.)
It may be the cheese that's the dairy allergen.

It's been a while since I've been on board (I'm finally looking at coming back) but a classic complaint was that you couldn't get eggs your way because they were using pasteurized liquid eggs, so scrambled was the only option. Did that change that at some point?
 

niemi24s

Engineer
Joined
Feb 11, 2015
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2,841
Probably due to the lower amount of rooms available, buckets are higher.
Cal nailed it. The individual bucket levels on the EB to/from PDX are actually only $1 or $2 more than those on the EB to/from SEA. If you poke around on Arrow long enough using different dates, you might even find one where the SEA section was $400 more than the PDX section for the same kind of room.
 

acelafan

OBS Chief
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May 24, 2009
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Atlanta, GA
Is the westbound Empire Builder Seattle Section serving breakfast in the morning just before arrival?
When purchasing my ticket, I noticed the Portland section was about $400 more expensive than the Seattle section. I figured this is not for the food, given the diner is coming to Seattle.
I was on #7 about a week ago and yes, breakfast is served. I think the diner opens at 530 AM if I remember right.
 
Joined
Aug 10, 2021
Messages
6
Location
Argentina
Just got back from a FL-NY round trip on the Meteor, featuring(?) Flex Dining.

Thumbs up on the Salmon, Enchilada, and French Toast.

Chicken ala Rosa -- ok in a pinch, but I wouldn't order it again unless I were on a multi-night trip and got tired of the salmon.

Table syrup was served with French Toast in both directions. Tabasco was available northbound (I didn't ask southbound.) Warm roll with butter included in both dinners (can't remember about lunch.) No salads southbound; SCA said they were received frozen so they were discarded. Northbound salad included choice of ranch or Italian dressing.

Moynihan Lounge at NYP had excellent pre-packaged salad, nice little sandwiches & roll-ups, high-end bottled soda, good coffee, and a good selection of snacks and pre-packaged pound cake slices.

ETA: Forgot to mention: dining car was nearly empty. Most I saw was about 4 tables occupied at a breakfast. I noticed a fairly steady stream of SCA'S carrying food out, and one passenger picking up and carrying out his own food. I wandered into the Cafe car just for a peek, and there was a prettty good-sized line.

Just rode 92, Silver Star. Everyone has different tastes but I personally took one bite of the salmon and could not eat any more. Tried the rice and it was suffused with what I thought was a disgusting taste. All I could eat was the mini salad, roll and dessert. For the rest of the long trip I ate some food I had brought along. I wish they could return to the 'Contemporary Dining" they featured when they first dropped real food service. The cold meat/cheese platter was really good. It even included a half (375 ml) bottle of quality wine (I think Chateau St Jean). What they are serving now is worse than any airline food I have ever had. I don't know how they could do worse. Oh...I did eat breakfast. Coffee, muffin and decent yogurt. That was OK.
 

Sidney

OBS Chief
Joined
Jul 12, 2020
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843
Just rode 92, Silver Star. Everyone has different tastes but I personally took one bite of the salmon and could not eat any more. Tried the rice and it was suffused with what I thought was a disgusting taste. All I could eat was the mini salad, roll and dessert. For the rest of the long trip I ate some food I had brought along. I wish they could return to the 'Contemporary Dining" they featured when they first dropped real food service. The cold meat/cheese platter was really good. It even included a half (375 ml) bottle of quality wine (I think Chateau St Jean). What they are serving now is worse than any airline food I have ever had. I don't know how they could do worse. Oh...I did eat breakfast. Coffee, muffin and decent yogurt. That was OK.
I've had the flex french toast twice and each time I broke a fork trying to cut it. Too hard to eat. A complete 180 from traditional dining french toast. Traditional dining can't return soon enough to the Eastern trains and the Eagle.
 

Hans627

Train Attendant
Joined
Jun 15, 2019
Messages
59
We have a trip planned on the Auto Train later this week and we are curious what we can expect relative to meal service. What is the latest?

Thanks!
 

pennyk

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We have a trip planned on the Auto Train later this week and we are curious what we can expect relative to meal service. What is the latest?

Thanks!

Here is a link to a trip report by a member who traveled on the Auto Train in late November:
 
Joined
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Long Island, NY
Here is a link to a trip report by a member who traveled on the Auto Train in late November:
This is assuming the OP is in a sleeper....
 
Joined
Sep 15, 2017
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We have a trip planned on the Auto Train later this week and we are curious what we can expect relative to meal service. What is the latest?

Thanks!
They are serving the standard traditional dining entrees also served in the west - starting out with a salad and dinner roll (salad is a better portion than what’s served on flexible dining trains.) along with the three desserts offered out west plus an ice cream option (ice cream is unique to the auto train.)
 

Cal

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Jan 23, 2021
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Socal
Seriously? I'd rather they simply not serve anything than wake up to a 6AM last call message four hours before arrival.
Scheduled arrival time is at 8 AM, although with padding it can be as early as 7:30. It gives them ample time to clean up prior to arrival.
 

Devil's Advocate

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Scheduled arrival time is at 8 AM, although with padding it can be as early as 7:30. It gives them ample time to clean up prior to arrival.
I'm not that familiar with the EB so I did a query for SEA and PDX before posting and both showed arrivals ~ 10:30AM. I did not see any special schedule alerts but I may have missed them among the sea of advertising for Amtrak's other business of selling credit cards and commuter status. 😅
 

Cal

Engineer
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Jan 23, 2021
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Socal
I'm not that familiar with the EB so I did a query for SEA and PDX before posting and both showed arrivals ~ 10:30AM. I did not see any special schedule alerts but I may have missed them among the sea of advertising for Amtrak's other business of selling credit cards and commuter status. 😅
Well, I was just talking about the the Southwest Chief and my recent(ish) experience on #3 into Socal
 

Kbyrdleroydogg

Train Attendant
Joined
May 27, 2017
Messages
55
Location
Chicago, IL
For sleeping car passengers, has Covid 19 made you want to eat in your room rather than venture in the dining car? Do the dining cars on your train line space apart their patrons? Are the dining cars closed?
 

Sauve850

OBS Chief
Joined
Jan 9, 2014
Messages
644
Location
West Palm Beach, Florida
For sleeping car passengers, has Covid 19 made you want to eat in your room rather than venture in the dining car? Do the dining cars on your train line space apart their patrons? Are the dining cars closed?
Never had any interest in eating in my room. My last trip was September from Chicago on Cardinal and Star to Florida. I ate no meals in my room and was always seated alone. Many empty spaces to eat. Most everyone seemed to eat in their rooms.
 
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Jul 16, 2010
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We ate one meal in our rooms on the Cardinal after 13 meals on the Cardinal and Zephyr round trip. We only did it because the SCA said we had to as there was "no diner". Funny, but the cafe-diner was the same in both directions.
 
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