Amtrak dining

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Yes, and I'd say that has an obvious solution. Put another food service car on, which they have a supply of.

That situation is entirely self-inflicted, especially on the Crescent. The fact that it is an obvious problem seems to have been convienently ignored by Amtrak's [adjective_deleted/] management.

Sadly the Star’s gain is the Crescent’s loss. Hopefully they’ll abandon this desire for a single food service car on certain routes in due time.
 
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If they could simply provide the same meal service as provided on the CZ, SWC, CS, and EB on all overnight trains that would be a major step in the right direction. There is no need to reinvent the wheel. There is a need to spend money and hire staff and to hold management and staff accountable to providing better customer service.
 

Sidney

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If they could simply provide the same meal service as provided on the CZ, SWC, CS, and EB on all overnight trains that would be a major step in the right direction. There is no need to reinvent the wheel. There is a need to spend money and hire staff and to hold management and staff accountable to providing better customer service.
Exactly! How long will the "can't find cooks" excuse last? There is a major hiring event going on now. If there is still flex crap on the Eastern trains and Eagle by January,obviously Amtrak has no plans whatsoever to reinstate real food.
 
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I think hostel and campground is a bit of an exaggeration. First of all the meal service on the trains that attract the most riders for the "experience" (where riding the train is a major part of the trip) is very good at the moment. For the other trains - in my opinion a private room with the ability to lie flat, and the peace and quiet without a stranger nearby is worth a few bucks and they offer a meal - yes mediocre but very edible and passable in my opinion (yes not for others). It's maybe not for everyone - it does seem like some that post here feel the primary benefit of getting a sleeper is the dining car and that's fine - but I don't think everyone necessarily sees it that way otherwise no one would ride anymore. Yes Delta is an option - but some people ride the train for reasons other than the food and realize it's not the quickest and most efficient way to get to their destination - such as feeling its more relaxing than flying, watching the world go by out the window, or don't like flying - such as myself. The food served doesn't really impact any of those primary reasons as to why I take the train. As I said before - would I welcome them expanding traditional dining to the other LD trains? You bet - and I think they should as it would diversify their customer base and bring back riders such as some who have sworn off the trains until they do. Is it going to ruin Amtrak for me if they don't? Nope. Overnight travel on Amtrak isn't for everyone and you may disagree with me and that's fine - it's a free country. And I'm not the only one that doesn't get bent out of shape over the food at least from my experience. Clearly some here prefer Delta or American or Southwest absent the traditional meals- and that's fine - it's a free market and country I'm not going to criticize how one spends their money.
 

pennyk

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MODERATOR NOTE: Please keep the discussion in this thread on the topic of Amtrak Dining. Off topic posts may be removed.

Thank you for your cooperation.
 

Shanson

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Now, IMO, frozen microwaved pancakes can be fairly decent
Please do not take this comment personally, but many folks posting make comments about Flex meals being microwaved. This is not accurate. The meals are heated in convection ovens. Those foil covers would set a microwave oven on fire!

We forum members should always be doing our best to give accurate information. Thanks.
 
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I am a Million Mile+ flyer. I love to fly, and for me the flight is part of the vacation, the visit, or the best part of a business trip. Airline food, in my opinion, is only OK. Domestic first class / business class food on US airlines is only OK.- even on most international flights everything (salad, main course & dessert) is served all at once on one tray.

I love Amtrak Long distance roomette accommodations on western trains. I have ridden the Builder, the Chief, the Zephyr, and the Coast Starlight at least once. I have also had my share of cancellations, very late arrivals / departures and attempted downgrades to coach - which I refused for a refund instead. I have written my fair share of complaint letters. I have also had early arrivals (this past August on the Builder from Seattle to Chicago - arriving 10 minutes early).

I have always received great service from my car attendant and from everyone in the dinner. I tip generously.

My meals have always been enjoyable and tasty. I enjoy dinner with tablecloths and a free drink. The appetizers and desserts are currently not to my liking, but all of the main courses are very good. The flat iron steak is always prepared to perfection.

Once on the Chief when the water supply in the diner caused it to be closed for lunch, I was given a coupon to use to get something in the cafe car & bring back to eat in the diner. The turkey sandwich was delicious.

All in all, despite the various problems faced by the transportation industry lately, the meal service on US airlines is not even in the same ballpark as the food service on Amtrak for sleeping car (first class) passengers - and I get a bed in a private roomette too!

While I look forward to even better menus and service on Amtrak in the future, I have no such hopes for improved airline food and meal presentation.

I hope to see improved food service on all trains and allowing coach customers to purchase dining car meals.

Until then, Amtrak deserves credit for what it is doing well.
 

pennyk

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MODERATOR NOTE: Please keep the discussion in this thread on the topic of Amtrak Dining. Off topic posts may be removed.

Thank you for your cooperation.
Many posts were either moved to an airline thread, removed because they were off the topic of Amtrak dining and/or removed because they were a response to a removed/off topic post.

Edit to add: some of the off topic posts that had constructive content were moved to the following thread:

Thank you for your understanding and cooperation.
 
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jis

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I am a Million Mile+ flyer. I love to fly, and for me the flight is part of the vacation, the visit, or the best part of a business trip. Airline food, in my opinion, is only OK. Domestic first class / business class food on US airlines is only OK.- even on most international flights everything (salad, main course & dessert) is served all at once on one tray.
I am a several million mile BIS flyer, but that actually has very little bearing on what is happening in Business/First Class today. That would happen regardless of how much I flew or not. ;)

The single tray serving was certainly the case during the COVID years. But as airlines evolve from the COVID years to more normal year, they are slowly starting to deliver the basic place setting in a tray together with the Appetizer and Salad, and as those are consumed they are removed and replaced by the main course, and then finally the Dessert. At least that was my experience in Business Class over the last three weeks on United, Air India, Lufthansa and Vistara. But in the case of US airlines that is still far short of what was the norm.

United in Polaris though did a strange hybrid, they laid down a table cloth and delivered the pre-meal snacks on it, and then delivered the meal setup on a tray with its own table cloth, and delivered the dessert separately on the original table cloth setup after removing the meal tray. I am told in a discussion on flyer talk that this is new this week, so things are evolving I suppose.

Admittedly this may not be uniformly the case and perhaps it is only the case on very long fights on US airlines. OTOH Vistara and Air India (both now managed by the Tata Group, Vistara in collaboration with Singapore Airlines) served excellent full meals (Dinner and Breakfast respectively) in Coach (Air India) and First Class (Vistara), on what amounted to a domestic flight in India of around 2 hours duration.

With very little additional effort Amtrak could even serve the Flex meal in a more presentable form on a tray which is somewhat more elaborate than the ridiculous frame of a tray that they are supposed to use with the Flex Meal but seldom do. Regardless, they need to add a second server if they intend to have a food service that is not a laughing stock meant to just tick mark :food service" instead of actually being a credible service.
 
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With very little additional effort Amtrak could even serve the Flex meal in a more presentable form on a tray which is somewhat more elaborate than the ridiculous frame of a tray that they are supposed to use with the Flex Meal but seldom do. Regardless, they need to add a second server if they intend to have a food service that is not a laughing stock meant to just tick mark :food service" instead of actually being a credible service.
Presentation is also my biggest criticism. I've never found the food to be that bad, but if they took the time to present it better could make a difference for some. Though I certainly wouldn't complain if they reworked it entirely into a new product either.
 

joelkfla

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I very recently saw job postings on Amtrak.com for chefs based out of Miami, FL. Could that be an indication of a return to traditional dining on East Coast long distance trains?
It means they're trying to do something, but IIRC these postings were first seen last winter, which may mean that they're not having much success.
 

Rambling Robert

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The Blue Corn Veggie Tamale is on the menu at Amtrak Cafe or should I say “Caffè Amtrak” haha. Oh and IS IT GOOD !!!

The Tucson Tamale is on National and some Regional trains BUT not the DownEaster.

I googled the company that makes it “Tucson Tamale” and discovered a local health food store - had them.

The Dollar Tree has Tamales which are okay but the Tucson Tamale - to me - is a mash up (literally) of Thanksgiving turkey stuffing and a burrito! Really, really tasty!

Tamales have a wrapping, usually corn husk (NOT eaten) that can be peeled back to eat on the run. It’s messy to eat with just fingers but using a fork is best.

At the nearby store the brand Tucson Tamale has four different tamales only one has meat (pork). Two to a package for $6. My niece’s husband who is of Aztec descent steams the tamale for 20 minutes or so. But I very successfully microwaved them. Following the package instructions - I WRAPPED THEM IN WET PAPER TOWELS - in the microwave 2.5 minutes. FINE. I ate both but next time one with black beans and rice - should do.

So folks - size may vary - but here something worth trying at home or in the ‘Caffè Amtrak’!

THE TUCSON TAMALE21601965-4970-47A2-BA83-75283E83091A.jpeg

F5134636-835E-4D2F-821A-684C4880ADA7.jpeg
 
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MccfamschoolMom

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My niece’s husband who is of Aztec descent steams the tamale for 20 minutes or so. But I very successfully microwaved them. Following the package instructions - I WRAPPED THEM IN WET PAPER TOWELS - in the microwave 2.5 minutes.
I found instructions online for steaming tamales in my Instant Pot, and have tried that a couple of times with meat-department tamales when fixing family-size quantities. Microwaving would be quicker for just 1 or 2 people, though, and those Tuscon Tamales certainly sound yummy!
 
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Presentation is also my biggest criticism. I've never found the food to be that bad, but if they took the time to present it better could make a difference for some. Though I certainly wouldn't complain if they reworked it entirely into a new product either.
Presentation is a big criticism with me as well. Here’s an example (on the Silver) of being determined to enjoy a better experience than what they initially “presented” me…

Before (from Amtrak):
1662414127441.jpeg

After:
1662414301570.jpeg

Not terrific, but much more appetizing…
 

crescent-zephyr

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Presentation is a big criticism with me as well. Here’s an example (on the Silver) of being determined to enjoy a better experience than what they initially “presented” me…

Before (from Amtrak):
View attachment 29565

After:
View attachment 29566

Not terrific, but much more appetizing…
How does ANYONE defend that? that entree looks disgusting and that salad is beyond pathetic. It still shocks me that this is what is served to sleeper passengers on high $$$ trains like the Silver and Lake Shore.
 
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How does ANYONE defend that? that entree looks disgusting and that salad is beyond pathetic. It still shocks me that this is what is served to sleeper passengers on high $$$ trains like the Silver and Lake Shore.

The taste of the current short ribs meal is actually not that bad at all. But as they say - you do see food before you taste it and presentation can be really important. I always find myself saying that tasted way better than it looked with the flex meals. But for some people that initial impression may kill it. The one good sign of the tin foil is that means it went in the oven and not the microwave.
 
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Presentation is a big criticism with me as well. Here’s an example (on the Silver) of being determined to enjoy a better experience than what they initially “presented” me…

Before (from Amtrak):
View attachment 29565

After:
View attachment 29566

Not terrific, but much more appetizing…
This is true. back in 2019, I had flex food served to me on the Cardinal similar to the second picture. I mean, it helped that there were only 12 passengers in the sleeper, so the attendant may not have been hammered with meal requests. It also helped that the coach attendant was helping him out.
 

Rambling Robert

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I found instructions online for steaming tamales in my Instant Pot, and have tried that a couple of times with meat-department tamales when fixing family-size quantities. Microwaving would be quicker for just 1 or 2 people, though, and those Tuscon Tamales certainly sound yummy!
I’ve never used an Instant pot put years ago used a pressure cooker and would cut cooking time on certain items in about half. I think I’ve seen pressure cookers in train kitchens.

The tamale does need something to go with it on an Amtrak Menu - maybe black beans and rice. But I’m happy Amtrak has it!
 
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I’ve never used an Instant pot put years ago used a pressure cooker and would cut cooking time on certain items in about half. I think I’ve seen pressure cookers in train kitchens.

The tamale does need something to go with it on an Amtrak Menu - maybe black beans and rice. But I’m happy Amtrak has it!
There are no pressure cookers in Amtrak diner kitchens...
 
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