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Flexible dining - Requesting a review from a recent rider

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Ferroequinologist

Service Attendant
Joined
Jan 18, 2016
Messages
144
I am planning a trip on the SW Chief to LA. I have had the flexible dining on the LS Limited. They offered a good cheese, cold meat platter but that seems to have disappeared and what I see on the current menu looks like a downgrade of the downgrade; it all looks really bad. I can't see a lunch menu. Is there just one menu for lunch and dinner? Could someone review the food. Thanks.
 

AmtrakFlyer

Train Attendant
Joined
Nov 27, 2016
Messages
53
Traditional and (temporary/flex) menus are on the Amtrak website.

Under service changes at very top there’s a link to western trains flex, farther down on the page traditional menus are listed. It looks like a small improvement. The big negative to me is if your made to eat in your room even if entire diner is empty.

 

Rasputin

OBS Chief
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Jan 17, 2019
Messages
744
It seems to me from most reports on the western long distance trains, sleeping car passengers have the option of eating in the dining car or in their rooms. However I have read that on the Lake Shore, the so-called sleeper lounge car is used only for picking up food and you are not allowed to eat there or lounge there. Corrections would be welcome.
 

crescent-zephyr

Conductor
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It seems to me from most reports on the western long distance trains, sleeping car passengers have the option of eating in the dining car or in their rooms. However I have read that on the Lake Shore, the so-called sleeper lounge car is used only for picking up food and you are not allowed to eat there or lounge there. Corrections would be welcome.
It’s amtrak. The rules will vary from crew to crew.
 

Palmetto

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Miami
It seems to me from most reports on the western long distance trains, sleeping car passengers have the option of eating in the dining car or in their rooms. However I have read that on the Lake Shore, the so-called sleeper lounge car is used only for picking up food and you are not allowed to eat there or lounge there. Corrections would be welcome.

Correct. Amtrak's CEO, on the WAPO stream that ended about a half-hour ago stated that food may be consumed only at one's seat or in one's room.
 

NativeSon5859

OBS Chief
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Aug 5, 2003
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NOLA
I've been on all of these trains over the past month. Here's the scoop.

Sunset Limited - eat in diner or room (dining car attendant takes your order from your room in either case)
Crescent - eat in room only (sleeping car attendant takes order and delivers it)
Cardinal - you pick up the food in the lounge, must eat in your room
Empire Builder - eat in diner or room
Coast Starlight - eat in diner or room
California Zephyr - eat in diner or room
City of New Orleans #59 - dinner out of CHI, eat in room only, order taken by SCA. Other meals, eat in diner or room.
 

NativeSon5859

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NOLA
The food will be a subjective experience. I don't think it's bad, but I've no doubt others do. My latest trip was 8 nights... when I got to day 7, I was tired of the meals, but again, I've never taken Amtrak for the food. And being an introvert, I kind of like being able to get a whole table to myself in the diner. Of course I've had many enjoyable conversations in the diner over the years, but the community seating was always my least favorite part of the experience.
 

NativeSon5859

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@NativeSon5859 - which meal did you like the best / worst?

I thought the shrimp and sausage bowl was ok. I thought the beef was way too salty and would never order it again.
I only had the beef twice. Yeah, Not the best. My least fav, easily. I basically rotated between the shrimp/andouille, pasta with meatballs, and the spicy noodles. Until I got tired of them and went for lounge car junk food lol.
 

jiml

Conductor
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Toronto area
It's funny how the pasta and meatballs started as the kids' meal, but is the one that most complain about the least. I noted on the latest menu that it's now included with the others (not specifically called kids'). As someone who won't eat shrimp (love andouille though) I'd be ordering the pasta frequently.
 

Bob Dylan

Conductor
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May 31, 2009
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Austin Texas
I
It's funny how the pasta and meatballs started as the kids' meal, but is the one that most complain about the least. I noted on the latest menu that it's now included with the others (not specifically called kids'). As someone who won't eat shrimp (love andouille though) I'd be ordering the pasta frequently.
I used to order the Hot Dog, ( really good when it was Nathan's on a Pretzel Bun)Mac n Cheese and the Pasta from the kids Meals often, especially for Lunch on Long trips for variety.

All were good, and it depended on the Server or LSA whether you could order it!

Also remember when you could order the Burgers and the Special Sandwich @ Dinner when available, I often did this when in Coach and paying for my meals!
 
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DetroitDave

Train Attendant
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Jan 10, 2020
Messages
15
Location
Detroit, MI
The food will be a subjective experience. I don't think it's bad, but I've no doubt others do. My latest trip was 8 nights... when I got to day 7, I was tired of the meals, but again, I've never taken Amtrak for the food. And being an introvert, I kind of like being able to get a whole table to myself in the diner. Of course I've had many enjoyable conversations in the diner over the years, but the community seating was always my least favorite part of the experience.
Thanks for your recent review of the food and noting the dining experience! I'll be on SWC and City/New Orleans later this year so I'm curious how the meals will...er...morph.

I concur as far as being an introvert and can take/or/leave some of the dining aspects (but I have had great, rewarding conversations in dining once the ice was broken.)
 

Skyline

OBS Chief
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Feb 19, 2016
Messages
742
So long as some of us (different threads) are talking about re-inventing Amtrak, I want to vote for reducing sleeper fares by eliminating the automatic inclusion of food in the price. Give pax the option of paying for Amtrak-supplied food, or bringing their own food on board. Also, let coach pax have that same option; don't refuse them dining car service.

I find Amtrak's food offerings to be edible, but it has gotten worse over the past few years. To the point of wanting to bring my own food, which I can prepare myself. So if that's my choice, why should I be also paying for Amtrak food as part of the sleeper fare?
 

Bob Dylan

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So long as some of us (different threads) are talking about re-inventing Amtrak, I want to vote for reducing sleeper fares by eliminating the automatic inclusion of food in the price. Give pax the option of paying for Amtrak-supplied food, or bringing their own food on board. Also, let coach pax have that same option; don't refuse them dining car service.

I find Amtrak's food offerings to be edible, but it has gotten worse over the past few years. To the point of wanting to bring my own food, which I can prepare myself. So if that's my choice, why should I be also paying for Amtrak food as part of the sleeper fare?
That's the Traditional way going back to the start of Diners on Trains and during the early Amtrak days.🥰
 

Devil's Advocate

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So long as some of us (different threads) are talking about re-inventing Amtrak, I want to vote for reducing sleeper fares by eliminating the automatic inclusion of food in the price. Give pax the option of paying for Amtrak-supplied food, or bringing their own food on board. Also, let coach pax have that same option; don't refuse them dining car service. I find Amtrak's food offerings to be edible, but it has gotten worse over the past few years. To the point of wanting to bring my own food, which I can prepare myself. So if that's my choice, why should I be also paying for Amtrak food as part of the sleeper fare?
I see where you're coming from but I think the reality of the situation is that dining cars probably won't survive if meals are excluded from sleeper fares. If anything it will likely speed up their retirement. I doubt the separation of meals would result in a discount large enough to buy everything we need ourselves. I do agree that the current food is pretty bad but I'd prefer they improve the experience rather than simply paint the diner into a financial corner as they have. I don't need three meals sitting around all day but I will need at least one and would prefer something hot and tasty over something dry or drippy. Where I travel long distance trains move slowly and stations have few if any meal-related services, which makes dining cars on long haul trains more important than in other situations. We're not just speaking for ourselves when we offer to give up diners for everyone. Sure, we had our fun when times were good, but once these diners are gone they probably won't be coming back again for anyone else to enjoy.
 
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Dakota 400

Conductor
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Mar 5, 2014
Messages
2,066
The Mac n' Cheese and the Hot Dog from the kids' menu were always good for lunch or even for a light dinner when I was still "full" from breakfast and lunch when Amtrak served good dining car meals.
 

20th Century Rider

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Oregon Coast
@NativeSon5859 - which meal did you like the best / worst?

I thought the shrimp and sausage bowl was ok. I thought the beef was way too salty and would never order it again.
So here's the deal with the Red Wine Braised Beef... sodium 2340 - a dangerous level for anyone with blood pressure issues. I am researching that meal and am preparing to post a review on one of the threads. See below the stats on this meal. BTW... having 'red wine' in the title is sure a misnomer. The meat was bland; some fatty, and the polenta was puddling into the watery broth. Did you actually notice a 'red wine flavor?' I've also added a youtube account of the 'flex meal experience' that really brings home the sentiment most feel.
Screen Shot 2020-06-30 at 1.17.52 PM.png

 

TheCrescent

Train Attendant
Joined
Jun 24, 2020
Messages
28
For dinner, I always got the Asian Noodle Bowl, but I see that's now gone. It was fine.

The "specialty dessert" is nothing special: a bland brownie or a bland blondie, in the plastic wrapper.

Flexible Dining breakfast is terrible:

* No fresh fruit (due to Covid-19)
* Prepackaged oatmeal with hot water stirred in
* Jimmy Dean breakfast sandwich microwaved in the plastic wrapper
* Lots of attitude from the cafe car staff

I would bring my own food for breakfast.

At least the one free drink helps dull the hunger pangs.
 

railiner

Conductor
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Mar 20, 2009
Messages
8,150
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South Florida
So long as some of us (different threads) are talking about re-inventing Amtrak, I want to vote for reducing sleeper fares by eliminating the automatic inclusion of food in the price. Give pax the option of paying for Amtrak-supplied food, or bringing their own food on board. Also, let coach pax have that same option; don't refuse them dining car service.

I find Amtrak's food offerings to be edible, but it has gotten worse over the past few years. To the point of wanting to bring my own food, which I can prepare myself. So if that's my choice, why should I be also paying for Amtrak food as part of the sleeper fare?
While I have certainly had more than my fair share of good dining car meals thru the decades of Amtrak's existence, I now agree with pretty much all you say.
If they can not justify the traditional level of diner experience, I'd just as soon bring my own aboard, and not have to be at all concerned any longer with their trials and tribulations...
 

20th Century Rider

OBS Chief
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Messages
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I agree... it would be much nicer to have one's own food aboard... more control over quality and choice... and it's not as expensive as purchasing on board. I don't expect that would actually bring down the cost of the room... where's the Amtrak leadership? Perhaps with Amtrak Joe heading a new admin there may be hope and a future for passenger service!
 

20th Century Rider

OBS Chief
Joined
Jan 26, 2020
Messages
706
Location
Oregon Coast
For dinner, I always got the Asian Noodle Bowl, but I see that's now gone. It was fine.

The "specialty dessert" is nothing special: a bland brownie or a bland blondie, in the plastic wrapper.

Flexible Dining breakfast is terrible:

* No fresh fruit (due to Covid-19)
* Prepackaged oatmeal with hot water stirred in
* Jimmy Dean breakfast sandwich microwaved in the plastic wrapper
* Lots of attitude from the cafe car staff

I would bring my own food for breakfast.

At least the one free drink helps dull the hunger pangs.
Not right and totally institutionalized ... disconnected with the customer. The free enterprise way of doing things isn't supposed to be like this. The Flexible Dining breakfast is a sham as is this entire 'food service' concept on Amtrak. The energy for improvement and change needs to come from somewhere. We're all talking about the same thing!:confused::rolleyes:🤮
 
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