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Amtrak's Kosher Food Option - Reviews? Comments?

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20th Century Rider

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Like so many others my LD trip needed to be rescheduled. Upon doing that I requested the kosher meal option presently available. There are 4 choices available... omelet, fish, chicken, meat. I was told you can order your choice... but that choice for breakfast - lunch - dinner must remain the same for that meal designation for the entire trip. No further information available. So has anyone on the forum experienced any of these meals? Anything about the quality etc. that could be shared? Anyone have any pics?
 

F900ElCapitan

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Yes, I did the Kosher meals on the Texas Eagle/Sunset Limited in June. I ordered the omelette for breakfast and salmon for dinner. The main reason I ordered these is they appeared to be healthier than the normal menu. The omelette itself was plain, but good, and when mixed with the ratatouille it was quite tasty. The salmon came out very nice, in fact I found it to be a lot better than the salmon I was served on the Texas Eagle last September (from the regular menu) and the vegetables were good too. My biggest complaint, and it is warranted, is that these are frozen meals, which didn’t affect the warmed side much, but no time was taken to thaw the cold side of the meal (drink, fruit, etc.) so it was all frozen and barely thawed by the time I was done eating. Overall though, I’d do it again. In fact after switching to the Texas Eagle in San Antonio, the Diner attendant didn’t get my request for the omelette, so I was stuck with the flex breakfast...the omelette was a better choice.
 

pennyk

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I have not had a kosher meal, but have sat at a table where a woman and her son had ordered kosher meals because they thought the meals would be better than the traditional meals. This was on the SIlver Meteor a few years back when traditional dining was still being offered. The woman complained constantly about the meal. She did not find it tasty enough. The LSA ended up bringing her another meal from the menu. She complained also about the kosher dessert. The LSA brought her a menu dessert. She did not like that dessert either and was brought another. Bottom line, that woman was not kosher and appeared to be picky. She liked the traditional meal more than the kosher meal.

I have been on the Silver Meteor numerous times where passengers ordered kosher meals who actually kept kosher. Those passengers sat at a table by themselves (because non-kosher food should not be at the same table). I did not speak to those passengers, but they appeared to be satisfied with the offerings.
 

20th Century Rider

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I have not had a kosher meal, but have sat at a table where a woman and her son had ordered kosher meals because they thought the meals would be better than the traditional meals. This was on the SIlver Meteor a few years back when traditional dining was still being offered. The woman complained constantly about the meal. She did not find it tasty enough. The LSA ended up bringing her another meal from the menu. She complained also about the kosher dessert. The LSA brought her a menu dessert. She did not like that dessert either and was brought another. Bottom line, that woman was not kosher and appeared to be picky. She liked the traditional meal more than the kosher meal.

I have been on the Silver Meteor numerous times where passengers ordered kosher meals who actually kept kosher. Those passengers sat at a table by themselves (because non-kosher food should not be at the same table). I did not speak to those passengers, but they appeared to be satisfied with the offerings.
Thank you for your observations. It appears that the woman who was being picky... was just picky. When compared with the flex option I would think the kosher option would provide a better experience. I've had the flex meals and don't have a high level of expectation. Several have commented that the omelet is better than the flex breakfast. Will be sure to take pics and report back; the trip is not until January.
 

PVD

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Pre packaged Kosher meals (as opposed to individual items) tend to be regional, so the supplying commissary location may be a determining factor in who is certifying.
 

west point

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Way back when: Airline cockpit crews often would ask if any kosher meals left over. Then their regular meals could go somewhere else.
 

tricia

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I was told you can order your choice... but that choice for breakfast - lunch - dinner must remain the same for that meal designation for the entire trip.
Does that mean that if you order, say, the kosher breakfast, you must also order kosher lunches and dinners?

And can you really only choose, say, "fish" ... for ALL lunches and dinners in a multiday trip?

If anyone can clarify, please do so. I'm particularly keen to avoid the breakfast on an upcoming trip, but wonder if that's worth it if it results in 3 or 4 salmon plates in two days.
 

PVD

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I think that means what you order for a specific meal stays the same, so you could do omelette B1 omelette B2 Chicken L1 Chicken L2 Fish D1 Fish D2 as an example, not omelette-omelette B1&2 meatL1 chicken D1 fishL2 meatD2
 

me_little_me

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I think that means what you order for a specific meal stays the same, so you could do omelette B1 omelette B2 Chicken L1 Chicken L2 Fish D1 Fish D2 as an example, not omelette-omelette B1&2 meatL1 chicken D1 fishL2 meatD2
Unless of course, there are two of you then you each order a different lunch and dinner and exchange them. :)
 

PVD

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That would certainly work.... I wonder if the meals are different (within the category) when loaded in a different place? So if you went NY to Chi, and Chicago - West or South, would you see, as an example, 2 chicken meals, but different "styles?"
 

tricia

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If anyone has actual experience ordering kosher meals recently and can speak to whether it's doable to order just breakfast, and confirm whether you need to order the same meals each day, please chime in. I'll be traveling on the Sunset Ltd in September, if that makes a difference.

I'm guessing that, except for the OP, and for pennyk speaking from past experience, the posts here are, well, guesses. ;) Good guesses, though. 😊
 

20th Century Rider

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Does that mean that if you order, say, the kosher breakfast, you must also order kosher lunches and dinners?

And can you really only choose, say, "fish" ... for ALL lunches and dinners in a multiday trip?

If anyone can clarify, please do so. I'm particularly keen to avoid the breakfast on an upcoming trip, but wonder if that's worth it if it results in 3 or 4 salmon plates in two days.
I can only go by what the res agent told me... if you order the omelet for breakfast, then all the breakfasts you have will be catered as an omelet breakfast. He also said I could order any one of the four choices for breakfast... but that same dish would have to be what I have for each breakfast on the trip. What I don't know is if you can order kosher for one of the three daily meals and go to the flex for the others. I am going to call back and check it out.
 

MARC Rider

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Way back when: Airline cockpit crews often would ask if any kosher meals left over. Then their regular meals could go somewhere else.
It must have been really "way back when." Back in the 1990s when I was more serious about keeping kosher outside my home, we would order kosher airline meals. I didn't think they were all that better than the regular meals, and, in fact, if you were really serious about kosher, you wouldn't have had a salad. (The kosher meals didn't have a salad, the regular ones did.)
 

20th Century Rider

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I have not had a kosher meal, but have sat at a table where a woman and her son had ordered kosher meals because they thought the meals would be better than the traditional meals. This was on the SIlver Meteor a few years back when traditional dining was still being offered. The woman complained constantly about the meal. She did not find it tasty enough. The LSA ended up bringing her another meal from the menu. She complained also about the kosher dessert. The LSA brought her a menu dessert. She did not like that dessert either and was brought another. Bottom line, that woman was not kosher and appeared to be picky. She liked the traditional meal more than the kosher meal.

I have been on the Silver Meteor numerous times where passengers ordered kosher meals who actually kept kosher. Those passengers sat at a table by themselves (because non-kosher food should not be at the same table). I did not speak to those passengers, but they appeared to be satisfied with the offerings.
2nd reply and a second thought... I wonder if the kosher option now is the same as when there was full service dining??? If so, the woman who was complaining about her kosher meal might have noticed that overall it wasn't as 'nice' as the full service meal; but now with the flex meals I'm wondering if this option may be an 'upside' choice?

A google search brought me to a 'flyertalk' discussion with only one pic still available... with the review from about a year ago for travel on the Capitol Limited. here's what I found...
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Reviewer wrote: "I've found that it pays to go straight to the dining car shortly after boarding to introduce myself and make sure that the service attendants know what I need. If nothing else, they seem to get no information on which item I ordered for each meal, so I have the chance to tell them what I want when. (Not that they always remember correctly - I was once served the beef for breakfast by mistake, except that Borenstein also got it wrong and it was chicken. But that train had unusually bad staff in the dining car.)"
 

PVD

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Big company, lots of airline caterers use them to get meals for their customer airlines. They are near JFK Airport.
 

MARC Rider

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Big company, lots of airline caterers use them to get meals for their customer airlines. They are near JFK Airport.
Boorenstein is apparently fully owned by El Al Airlines. All the in-flight food served on El Al is kosher. They must have done the nasty pot roast I was served on my El Al flights in 1971 and 1989. Actually, the pot roast wasn't all that bad, it just a bit heavy for eating while flying crammed into a small space and dodging occasional turbulence. And the gravy was a little bland, which was typical for eastern European Jewish cuisine at the time. But they did serve up good lox and bagels for breakfast.

When I arrived in Israel, I found a while new universe of flavors that were part of Jewish cuisine that I had never heard of. But tastes in the American kosher world have changed, so I would expect that whatever they offer isn't as bland as it was back in the day.



Kashrut supervision is under the auspices of the "O-U" (Orthodox Union), and is considered reliable by nearly everyone who cares about keeping kosher.
 

Manny T

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Two preliminary thoughts:

1. Kosher doesn't mean better. It means "fit" for persons observant of Jewish dietary laws.

2. This meal is provided (and paid for) by Amtrak. Will they go for the very best quality kosher meal available? Nope, not consistent with their policies.

Obviously kosher meals run the gamut of quality, just like non-kosher meals, they just use fewer ingredients from fewer (i.e. certified) providers.

I tried the kosher meal on Amtrak once. It reminded me of hospital food -- every thing was soft and bland. Then it occurred to me -- it probably was hospital food, i.e. the same as you would get if you ordered kosher in the hospital, from the same or similar provider.
 

20th Century Rider

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Boorenstein is apparently fully owned by El Al Airlines. All the in-flight food served on El Al is kosher. They must have done the nasty pot roast I was served on my El Al flights in 1971 and 1989. Actually, the pot roast wasn't all that bad, it just a bit heavy for eating while flying crammed into a small space and dodging occasional turbulence. And the gravy was a little bland, which was typical for eastern European Jewish cuisine at the time. But they did serve up good lox and bagels for breakfast.

When I arrived in Israel, I found a while new universe of flavors that were part of Jewish cuisine that I had never heard of. But tastes in the American kosher world have changed, so I would expect that whatever they offer isn't as bland as it was back in the day.



Kashrut supervision is under the auspices of the "O-U" (Orthodox Union), and is considered reliable by nearly everyone who cares about keeping kosher.
Thank you for the info! While not gourmet, sounds like it will be better than the flex meals. Someone else posted that the salmon was better than the Amtrak full service dining salmon when they had it; and I've ordered some of that. Otherwise the photo I found and posted looked like a TV dinner and the hot portion is supposed to be heated separately.

Sounds like the lox and bagels you had on El Al for breakfast was really good! Guess the kosher omelet will have to do... and will be that much better than the bland Amtrak flex breakfast!
 

PVD

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Just like almost any other caterer, they will provide what you are willing to pay for (well, not a BLT) .....Pre packed hospital meals are almost always bland, because many patients are on some kind of a special diet, it is easier to do that, and you can season to taste if allowed, low salt, low sugar, low residue (like pepper) and the list goes on...
 

MARC Rider

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Just like almost any other caterer, they will provide what you are willing to pay for (well, not a BLT)
And you can forget about the Cajun Shrimp and Rice, too. :) Or cheeseburgers. And no parmesan cheese on your spaghetti meat sauce. (although there are substances called "non-dairy cheese product" that might be provided. I'll leave it to your imagination as to the flavor and quality.) :)
 

MARC Rider

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Thank you for the info! While not gourmet, sounds like it will be better than the flex meals. Someone else posted that the salmon was better than the Amtrak full service dining salmon when they had it; and I've ordered some of that. Otherwise the photo I found and posted looked like a TV dinner and the hot portion is supposed to be heated separately.

Sounds like the lox and bagels you had on El Al for breakfast was really good! Guess the kosher omelet will have to do... and will be that much better than the bland Amtrak flex breakfast!
The picture of the Boorenstein Amtrak kosher meal provided earlier sure looks a lot like a Flex Dining meal. Same concept - frozen and heated in a microwave. And that's about what you get on any airline (except El Al) when you order a kosher meal. Because El Al is all kosher, the meals are prepared however conventional in-flight meals are prepared. At the very least, the're heated in a convection oven, which might make a difference in the final meal quality and presentation.

Amtrak already serves a half-decent bagel and cream cheese on the NEC cafe cars, they could include the lox, but they'd probably need to find a manufacturer who would package it as individual sealed servings to minimize spoilage and wastage. The Flex dining should include the option of bagels, too.
 

PVD

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I get food from a local vegetarian restaurant fairly regularly. Most of what they have is really good, even some of the meat substitutes are not bad. But they also offer some of the items with a vegan option, and I have not acquired a taste for non dairy egg or cheese substitutes. I stick to the regula vegetarian offerings in those categories.
 
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