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Fall-Winter 2010/2011 Dining Car Menus Out

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cpamtfan

OBS Chief
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New menus are out. The California Zephyr and Capitol Limited now have their own menus, with only the Silver Service, Southwest Chief, and Sunset Limited using the "national menu". Interestingly, the Zephyr now has pancakes as well as french toast, but Amtrak's "premere" train to the west, aka the Empire Builder, doesn't (Oh the little things that I think are big :p )!

Anyway, there are new things, old things cooked differently, as well as a "healthy" item (We all know Amtraks dining car quisine is like soul food, soooooo good, yet soooooooooooo bad for you!).

And they finally have the official Acela First Class menu and "fresh" cafe menu.

Overall I'm impressed, but its the actual tasting that matters!
 

Rob_C

Lead Service Attendant
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May 28, 2008
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SOUP is back! Fond memories of the Broccoli chowder on the Southwest Chief!

Rob
 

Anderson

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Nice to see soup available on the Capitol Limited...for when they actually have us onboard for lunch. Which, regrettably, is close to never (they always seem to be slightly early when I'm onboard, but that's because I think they build an extra 20-30 minutes in at the very end of the schedule to make up for delays).

Also...Tilapia or lasagna for when I end up on the Acela next? I know it's happening at least once over Christmas this year (I've got friends in DC, NYC, and Chicago I try to visit on my way to/from Des Moines).
 
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Steve4031

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The soup was an interesting addition on the CZ too. They call the steak a butcher block steak too. Maybe this will be a better quality of meat.
 

Devil's Advocate

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They call the steak a butcher block steak too. Maybe this will be a better quality of meat.
Hopefully you're right. Although I'm tempted to say the quality isn't an issue of menu wording so much as the quality of the food service provider.

 

battalion51

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You know as much as I love the latitude they get with having specials and "sandwich" of the day type stuff, it makes it a bit interesting if you don't do ground beef, and aren't hardcore vegetarian (at least with the lunch menu). On the Crescent a few months ago I was less than impressed with the lunch stuff. Dinner and Breakfast were just fine, but they struggled with lunch IMHO.
 

OlympianHiawatha

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You know as much as I love the latitude they get with having specials and "sandwich" of the day type stuff, it makes it a bit interesting if you don't do ground beef, and aren't hardcore vegetarian (at least with the lunch menu).
That does remind me of the classic "Manager's Special" I remember with terror on the school lunch menu, but so far I haven't been disappointed with Dining Car offerings.
 

battalion51

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All I'm saying is rather than having a multitude of things they can do mediocre, why not get good at a chicken sandwich, or a club? I think we'd all be better off in the end...
 

GregL

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I am surprised that they put soup on the menu. They don't have french fries on the because of splashing hot oil from the deep fat frier,yet a hot kettle of soup is okay??!! Do they have a better way to contain it?

GregL
 

OlympianHiawatha

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I remember when soup used to be included with your meal, along with a salad. On the Superliner Diner, there was a "soup station" in the center of the car.
 

NorthCoastHiawatha

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I am surprised that they put soup on the menu. They don't have french fries on the because of splashing hot oil from the deep fat frier,yet a hot kettle of soup is okay??!! Do they have a better way to contain it?

GregL
The soup containers have lids (at least on the Cascades they do)and speaking of fries, I still think they could do baked fries.
 
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RRrich

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Getting splashed with hot soup is not nearly as harmful as getting splashed with hot oil - because hot oil is MUCH hotter than hot soup.
 

rtabern

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Suburban Chicago
Great... now I have to ride on the Capitol and Zephyr sometime soon to plead with the LSA in the dining car for copies of those menus too!! Hahaha!!
 

Ryan

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Also...Tilapia or lasagna for when I end up on the Acela next? I know it's happening at least once over Christmas this year (I've got friends in DC, NYC, and Chicago I try to visit on my way to/from Des Moines).
I had the lasagna last weekend and it was pretty tasty.
 

Sbaitso

Train Attendant
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Jun 6, 2010
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Any idea how long these menus will be in use? Is there a specific day every year that they change over to the Spring-Summer or does it vary?
 

Devil's Advocate

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All I'm saying is rather than having a multitude of things they can do mediocre, why not get good at a chicken sandwich, or a club? I think we'd all be better off in the end...
It's kind of a bad situation right now. The selection isn't that great, and yet they seem to run out of many of items fairly regularly. But you're right that the few options they do have never really impress. It's the kind of food you'd never accept at a real restaurant. Or at least I wouldn't, but it's not any worse than what you'd get on a plane. Well, maybe it's worse than the Asian airlines serve, but that's a whole different ball game. I think the food service should be a target for serious improvement, both with quality and selection. I know I'm in the minority here, but based on what I hear from non-fans I think I might be in the majority overall. But I have almost no hope of any improvement so long as they're tied to Aramark. Don't get me wrong, the employees might be able to whip up incredible dishes, but that's just not how Aramark rolls. Bland, boring, and stale is more their style.
 

AlanB

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Aramark is just a food service provider. They provide whatever one is willing to pay for. Amtrak has been working with top chefs to come up with selections that are both pleasing, tasty, and yet still travel well and don't overburden the minimal cooking staff that Amtrak provides. While some people find the selections on Acela First Class to be unusual and not to their liking, they are quite varied and interesting IMHO. The big problem with Acela seems to be that many people are just looking for standard American food choices and the choices don't fall into that category.

I've had baby bok choy in upscale restaurants, but that definitely got some curious questions and stares from some Acela patrons who had no clue what it was.

Those same chefs have been tasked to work on the food choices for the LD's, which led to the bison meatloaf for one. However they've toned down some of the more "exotic" choices if you will. But still Amtrak is making a major effort and the food on board the trains has taken a major step up from where it used to be under the old caterer Gate Gourmet. What we were being served just 4 years ago makes what we're getting today look fabulous.
 
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