Amtrak dining

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Cal

Engineer
Joined
Jan 23, 2021
Messages
3,966
Location
Socal
Currently on the CZ heading to Chicago.
Lots to enjoy about this first-time trip but sadly the food isn't one of them.It's virtually inedible.
We left Emeryville three hours late because maintenance couldn't fix the grill.
So no steaks for dinner and no eggs for breakfast for the entire journey.
No lunch available on the first day - the buffalo sandwich we were given was frozen solid.
Last night the chicken arrived barely tepid and was awful - so many people left so much unfinished food on their plates.
Breakfast is just high sugar crap.No toast and jam, no fresh fruit.
The goats cheese salad for lunch came with a dreadful vinaigrette - we were told it came with the salad so there was nothing they could do.
Went for the pasta for the second night's dinner but they'd run out.
That left just the chicken again or salmon.
But they did offer another goats cheese salad - and yes I could have it without vinaigrette...
My wife said the burger - served with potato chips only - was ok.
Tbh, there is not a single thing I've eaten on this journey that I've liked and I'm the world's least picky eater. The microwave is putting in a shift and a half.
I understand the post-pandemic pressure Amtrak is under but I can't understand the company's nickel and dime attitude.Why go to the trouble of tablecloths and fresh flowers and serve food with plastic plates and cutlery ?
If we stayed long enough at a station I'd resort to trying to find something healthy and tasty to eat but we haven't.
There's much to enjoy on this journey - the scenery is fantastic, our Roomette much more comfortable than we expected and the shower is great.
But the train is filthy and surfaces in the observation car haven't been cleaned since the start of the journey.
Now running five hours late so missed the Rockies in darkness.
Such a shame really.One of the world's great train journeys deserves far better than this.
Sorry to hear. I’ve only had positive experiences with traditional dining but I agree with the cleaning. It’s not hard to see dirt built up along surfaces and it’s sad to see.
 
Joined
Jan 26, 2020
Messages
2,198
Location
Oregon Coast
Currently on the CZ heading to Chicago.
Lots to enjoy about this first-time trip but sadly the food isn't one of them.It's virtually inedible.
We left Emeryville three hours late because maintenance couldn't fix the grill.
So no steaks for dinner and no eggs for breakfast for the entire journey.
No lunch available on the first day - the buffalo sandwich we were given was frozen solid.
Last night the chicken arrived barely tepid and was awful - so many people left so much unfinished food on their plates.
Breakfast is just high sugar crap.No toast and jam, no fresh fruit.
The goats cheese salad for lunch came with a dreadful vinaigrette - we were told it came with the salad so there was nothing they could do.
Went for the pasta for the second night's dinner but they'd run out.
That left just the chicken again or salmon.
But they did offer another goats cheese salad - and yes I could have it without vinaigrette...
My wife said the burger - served with potato chips only - was ok.
Tbh, there is not a single thing I've eaten on this journey that I've liked and I'm the world's least picky eater. The microwave is putting in a shift and a half.
I understand the post-pandemic pressure Amtrak is under but I can't understand the company's nickel and dime attitude.Why go to the trouble of tablecloths and fresh flowers and serve food with plastic plates and cutlery ?
If we stayed long enough at a station I'd resort to trying to find something healthy and tasty to eat but we haven't.
There's much to enjoy on this journey - the scenery is fantastic, our Roomette much more comfortable than we expected and the shower is great.
But the train is filthy and surfaces in the observation car haven't been cleaned since the start of the journey.
Now running five hours late so missed the Rockies in darkness.
Such a shame really.One of the world's great train journeys deserves far better than this.
Oh! My! Gosh!

Be sure to contact customer service at the conclusion of your trip; and although you may be feeling angry, politely discuss your displeasure with unacceptable food service you paid big bucks for. You may not get a full refund, but such a big problem with the food should be worth at least a few hundred $$$ for a travel credit voucher.

With that said, this brings up deeper concerns regarding Amtrak's management and lack of care and concern for the customers. As an Amtrak traveler myself... and I will be on the CZ in December... I am lowering my expectations as my overall disappointment rises.

What the heck! You are paying in the $1000's and have a right to services paid for or adequate compensation!
 
Joined
Sep 15, 2017
Messages
1,736
Seems like there is another round of Chef and LSA job postings in Miami.

Read that job description, it talks about preparing meals for Amtrak employees (it mentions that a few times in the posting). Further it notes the job is Florida based with no Travel Requirement.
It does not sound like a Chef position for one of the regular trains serving Florida.

Ken
I think The Employees thing is a typo in the job description - it is also in the chef postings out west.
It also says:
Responsibilities

The Chef is responsible for meal preparation in the kitchen on board our dining cars.

This is an OBS job and you’re reading too much into the posting. They don’t hire chefs for crew bases to cook meals for employees.
 

Rizla Ronnie

Train Attendant
Joined
Jun 23, 2022
Messages
19
Location
UK
Okay, now I'm pissed.
The ONLY food on offer in the dining room for lunch on the third day of this CZ trip we're on is a hamburger with potato chips.
Nothing else.
Except a hotdog off the children's menu.
There is literally no other food on board and as we're running 7 hours late will be the only food on offer for dinner tonight.
And we're unable to order any alcohol with our " meal " for reasons which are still not apparent to us.
It is unbelievable that the cretins in charge of Amtrak's logistics are unable to organise an alternative supply of provisions anywhere along the way of a three-day 3,000 mile journey across the country.
The management in charge of this company are imbeciles.
I feel sorry for their staff to be led by donkeys.
 
Joined
Jan 26, 2020
Messages
2,198
Location
Oregon Coast
Okay, now I'm pissed.
The ONLY food on offer in the dining room for lunch on the third day of this CZ trip we're on is a hamburger with potato chips.
Nothing else.
Except a hotdog off the children's menu.
There is literally no other food on board and as we're running 7 hours late will be the only food on offer for dinner tonight.
And we're unable to order any alcohol with our " meal " for reasons which are still not apparent to us.
It is unbelievable that the cretins in charge of Amtrak's logistics are unable to organise an alternative supply of provisions anywhere along the way of a three-day 3,000 mile journey across the country.
The management in charge of this company are imbeciles.
I feel sorry for their staff to be led by donkeys.
Document everything with photos if possible. No food? No excuse, Amtrak! Be prepared to politely ask for a refund.
 
Joined
Sep 15, 2017
Messages
1,736
Okay, now I'm pissed.
The ONLY food on offer in the dining room for lunch on the third day of this CZ trip we're on is a hamburger with potato chips.
Nothing else.
Except a hotdog off the children's menu.
There is literally no other food on board and as we're running 7 hours late will be the only food on offer for dinner tonight.
And we're unable to order any alcohol with our " meal " for reasons which are still not apparent to us.
It is unbelievable that the cretins in charge of Amtrak's logistics are unable to organise an alternative supply of provisions anywhere along the way of a three-day 3,000 mile journey across the country.
The management in charge of this company are imbeciles.
I feel sorry for their staff to be led by donkeys.

I sympathize with your frustration about the delay. But the logistics of supplying the train at any stop with the provisions for the whole menu aren’t that simple. The traditional emergency meal is Dinty Moore stew….I’ll take the burger over that I think!

You can probably get a refund or voucher for your delay.
 

joelkfla

Engineer
Joined
Oct 16, 2018
Messages
2,171
Location
12 miles from Walt Disney World
I think The Employees thing is a typo in the job description - it is also in the chef postings out west.
It also says:
Responsibilities

The Chef is responsible for meal preparation in the kitchen on board our dining cars.

This is an OBS job and you’re reading too much into the posting. They don’t hire chefs for crew bases to cook meals for employees.
I pointed it out in previous postings for Miami, as well. They certainly don't have a need for a half dozen or more chefs to cook solely for Amtrak employees in Miami.

It does, however, speak to the competence of Amtrak HR that nobody has fixed it.
 

west point

Engineer
Joined
Jun 9, 2015
Messages
3,578
Location
SW ATL airport
Who proof reads anything?. When writing specs had a very difficult time getting anyone to proof read my stuff afterI had proof read it twice usually the next day unless expedited for some reason. I tend to make run on sentences/..
 

Rizla Ronnie

Train Attendant
Joined
Jun 23, 2022
Messages
19
Location
UK
I sympathize with your frustration about the delay. But the logistics of supplying the train at any stop with the provisions for the whole menu aren’t that simple. The traditional emergency meal is Dinty Moore stew….I’ll take the burger over that I think!

You can probably get a refund or voucher for your delay.
You were right about the Dinty Moore stew...🤣And no burgers left.
I think we'll wait till Chicago.
 

Rambling Robert

Service Attendant
Joined
May 30, 2021
Messages
194
Location
Boston
As reported on another thread I don’t want to repeat my first sleeper car experience - but the poor pull down service was due to the (night) assistant to the SCA not the SCA. In my case I “slept” between the seats half folded down. Later, as I got off the train, THEE Conductor was furious with the assistant for a behavior I can only guess.

But my hard earned senior savings of $550 went into THAT sleeper ride partly for the FOOD which I enjoyed. So I’ll be back in Coach or BC.

But on the last few long LD trips I haven’t had much to eat on the train during the trip. In BOS I had a hot sandwich then didn’t eat until PDX where I was surprised to find a yummy polish sausage on a bun.

But sooner or later Coach/BC will be allowed back to make reservations in the dining car. Before there was a menu with prices which was fine.
 

Sidney

OBS Chief
Joined
Jul 12, 2020
Messages
868
What..they were out of beer and wine? Two scenarios would make my blood boil embarking on a three day cross country trip. The first being downgraded to Coach that day and having no food on that journey. Two essentials that should not happen.

I have a circle trip coming up in less than two weeks. I ve been doing these for 33 years and never once had a problem except for late trains where they put you up in a hotel..hardly a problem. Hope my streak continues,but this has not been a good year for Amtrak.
 
Joined
Jan 26, 2020
Messages
2,198
Location
Oregon Coast
No alcohol! Now that is something to be upset about! 🙂
The two most important things when problems; document carefully, and be polite and appreciative with the customer service agent who's trying to help you... I have found it works just about every time... and you actually do get a bit [or a lot] more in compensation.
 
Joined
Jun 5, 2022
Messages
9
Location
California Desert
Wow!! I enjoyed the food we had on the SWC last month (aside from a breakfast burrito which did not at all agree with me--and looking back, I think it was the pico that was off; our SCA was very kind in getting me ginger ales). As far as I know, they didn't run out of anything, including liquor. A nonfunctional grill would have changed everything! So sorry for your crummy luck, @Rizla Ronnie :(
 
Joined
Apr 5, 2011
Messages
4,862
Location
Baltimore. MD
I sympathize with your frustration about the delay. But the logistics of supplying the train at any stop with the provisions for the whole menu aren’t that simple. The traditional emergency meal is Dinty Moore stew….I’ll take the burger over that I think!

You can probably get a refund or voucher for your delay.
I've heard stories about how, in years past, if there was some sort of disruption of food availability, they would call out for pizza or the Colonel for fried chicken. I've had the Amstew, and also once when a Silver Meteor was delayed into Orlando, they had sandwich boxes for the sleeper passengers from a local caterer/eatery. Even for a train li8ke the Califoornia Zephyr, which passes through some sparsely populated country, it's not like it's 1869 and there's nothing in between Omaha and Sacramento. I'm sure there are lots of places along the route that could provide a filling, if not fancy, meal. They just need to trust the LSA or the Chef with an Amtrak credit card.
 
Joined
Jan 17, 2019
Messages
1,334
My impression is that problems with the grills on dining cars seem to be rare. I was on the Southwest Chief about six or seven years ago when we were told that the grill was not heating up enough to cook steaks but apparently it was not a complete breakdown and plenty of other meals could be prepared. I was looking forward to a steak but had chicken instead and it was good.
 

Bob Dylan

50+ Year Amtrak Rider
AU Supporting Member
Joined
May 31, 2009
Messages
24,645
Location
Austin Texas
I've had Pizza ( National Chain and Mom andPop),KFC and Subway on LD Trains when there were food problems, and Amstew many times!

The only time I've gone hungry on Amtrak Trains was as a Coah Passenger when we weren't allowed in the Diner and the Cafe was out of what I considered edible or else was Closed during delays!
 

Bob Dylan

50+ Year Amtrak Rider
AU Supporting Member
Joined
May 31, 2009
Messages
24,645
Location
Austin Texas
My impression is that problems with the grills on dining cars seem to be rare. I was on the Southwest Chief about six or seven years ago when we were told that the grill was not heating up enough to cook steaks but apparently it was not a complete breakdown and plenty of other meals could be prepared. I was looking forward to a steak but had chicken instead and it was good.
That's because it could be heated in the Convection Oven.

Steaks,Eggs and French Toast require a Grill to properly prepare in Train Kitchens.
 

saxpower

Train Attendant
Joined
May 26, 2022
Messages
39
Location
Wilmington, DE
I suppose that is one up side of the flex meals. Less opportunity for equipment failures or problems obtaining an ingredient. Since they are pre-made, as long as the microwave or convection oven (which ever they use) is working, and there is a way to refrigerate the meals prior to preparation, everything is set.

I know, its a reach, but hey, better than problems due to a non-working grille.

(I should note- I live alone and because of my work schedule spend most of the week eating re-heated food I prepared on the weekend. I'm probably so used to reheated prepared meals the Flex Meals are just like normal for me)
 
Joined
Jan 17, 2019
Messages
1,334
I'm sure there are lots of places along the route that could provide a filling, if not fancy, meal. They just need to trust the LSA or the Chef with an Amtrak credit card.
I assume that the problem with the grill and lack of food on Rizla Ronnie's CZ was very quickly reported to Amtrak operations. Evidently they did not authorize any action and if not, why not?

This train was not operating through Mars. There are a number of large and modest sized communities on this route which have sufficient restaurant capacity that, with some advance notice, could have provided ample food to this train.

We see this over and over again with Amtrak. Whenever there is a meltdown there seems to be a lack of imagination or flexibility in coming up with a solution and it seems to be always treated like it is the first time such a meltdown has ever occurred.

Granted I have not studied Amtrak's operation manual to see if these problems and their solutions are discussed there, so corrections would be welcome.
 

Bob Dylan

50+ Year Amtrak Rider
AU Supporting Member
Joined
May 31, 2009
Messages
24,645
Location
Austin Texas
But I wonder how they were able to make the burgers on the CZ without the grill working? Gosh if they just microwaved them they would be mushy... not good!
The Burgers served in Amtrak Diners are Prepared Patties that can be Heated in a Convection Oven, and to my knowledge usually are, they are not Grilled..
 
Joined
Jan 26, 2020
Messages
2,198
Location
Oregon Coast
The Burgers served in Amtrak Diners are Prepared Patties that can be Heated in a Convection Oven, and to my knowledge usually are, they are not Grilled..
Good to know... that burger is tasty and filling and I often make that my choice for dinner. Of course it's nothing compared to an 'authentic' Texas BBQ burger smothered with sauce!
 
Joined
Jan 17, 2019
Messages
1,334
That's because it could be heated in the Convection Oven.

Steaks,Eggs and French Toast require a Grill to properly prepare in Train Kitchens.
As I recall, on our trip we were told that the grill was not heating up enough to cook steaks but apparently it was working well enough to prepare some meals because I had an omelet the next morning.
 
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