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Author Topic: Amtrak menus
mrhall53
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Has Amtrak changed its menus any since last year? We took the EB to Seattle in May 2004 and are taking the EB again this July.

My wife had the lamb shanks and said they were good, but I thought of those poor legless lambs and ordered something else ...

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Mr. Toy
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The most recent menu we saw a few weeks ago now has a different picture on the front of each of the three standardized menus. I noticed a few minor changes to the selections. Lamb shank was still available on at least one menu. The French toast is greatly improved, and is now called "Railroad French Toast."

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CHANGEATJAMAICA
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Mr. Toy; You have been very instructive over the year I've been visiting this forum and I have taken your advice and information seriously and profited from them. For that I thank you. BUT!!!
We have a parting of the way when it comes to Amtrak French/Railroad toast. I tried it once and that was more than enough. I've had the eggs, omelets, continental breakfast and enjoyed them all but the French/Railroad toast doesn't even score a decimal on a scale of one to ten. I'll continue to take your counsel on all things Amtrak other than breakfast. Thanks again.
Best regards,
Rodger

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CoastStarlight99
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They usde to have a Kaiser roll on the burer, now its a bakery soft roll of something, also my favorite dish in the diner is deffinety the Twin Medallions of beef! A+
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SouthernServesTheSouth
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My wife and I just returned from a round trip to Portland via Empire Builder and Cardinal. The Railroad French Toast was excellent on the EB (4 slices, thick bread and powdered sugar, syrup on the side) wonderful dinning room staff but the Cardinal has the abbreviated version (3 slices thin bread no sugar, cold syrup) and a less than enthusiastic staff.

Other meals were very good. But they had broccoli as one of the vegitables.UGH!!!!!!!

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Grandma Judy
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Another vote for the French Toast! How about Turtle Pie? In 2001, people on the CZ complained bitterly when it wasn't on the menu. I finally got to try it on the CS. Can I expect to find it on the EB this summer?
(I'll take broccoli over corn any day.)

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Vicki
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I LOVE the french toast! Well, I haven't had it on the Empire Builder, but I've had it on other trains and I eat it every breakfast. I also like the Key Lime Pie.
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TBlack
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The french toast may be good toast, but the syrup they use ruins the experience for me - it's too gluppy! I've always thought Amtrak chefs cooked chicken just right.
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sojourner
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I have had the Railroad French toast on the Silver Meteor, the Crescent, the Lakeshore Limited and the SW Chief. It is far and away the best breakfast to my tastes. The egg dishes are nothing special and are marred by the world's worst premade home fries; the grits, which one can have instead of home fries, are very plain and bland, though I suppose you can doctor them up with a lot of butter and salt. (Also, if you do have an egg dish, I strongly recommend the biscuit over the disappointing packaged croissant.) The pancakes are OK but sometimes have a rubbery aftertaste--it may be the water with which they are made? The Continental breakfast is OK if you are dieting, but beware the fresh fruit--when I had it, it tasted like it had sat in the train's diesel fumes for a while!

Re the syrup: the "maple" syrup is the fake sort, but I find it OK. However, if you don't like it, try the strawberry syrup. Or you might ask for both and mix them. You can also put butter on the French toast, of course.

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North American Railroader
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Oh! I miss the turtle pie, certainly the best that I had ever had. I bet that I was one of the people on the CZ complaining! The key lime pie is also wonderful, and it can really add a zing to one of Amtrak's plainer routes (the east coast).
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Pojon
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I miss those days when they had the 2 cafeteria-buffet cars on the Silver Service trains where you picked up your food cafeteria-style in one car and then went to another car to eat. The food wasn't bad and was sure less expensive than the stuff on the menu today. Anybody remember those 2-part dining cars?
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Mr. Toy
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Well, the Railroad French Toast this year was thick and fluffy. The now retired French Toast was battered Wonder bread, thin and lifeless.

There is one chef on the Starlight who doesn't do breakfast very well. Whenever I see him, the pancakes are rubbery, and the french toast tastes like it has been sitting out. I saw him on #11 a few weeks ago, and the Railroad French Toast suffered compared to what I had on #14 a few days earlier.

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Gilbert B Norman
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Indeed I do, Mr. Pojon; however, I'm quite glad they are gone, not only from the "Silvers", but also the Auto Train.

On a Feb 1992 AT trip (voyage #5 of 15), I considered it a real upgrade to be able to sit down and be waited on, in the ex-MILW Super Dome Sleeper Diner-Lounge assigned during that era.

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mpaulshore
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There was a period in the seventies--I'm not sure whether or not it extended into the eighties--when the French toast on Amtrak's menus carried the name "Old Railroad French Toast". I wonder if this name was originally supposed to be "Old-Fashioned Railroad French Toast", but was shortened for printing reasons by someone who was daft enough to believe that "Old Railroad French Toast" was an acceptable substitute. Paul Theroux makes mention of the dreadfulness of this name in his book The Old Patagonian Express.

In October 1998, I took the Southwest Chief from Chicago to Fullerton and back, and as a native New Englander was shocked and angered to see the syrup served at breakfast described as "maple syrup" on the menu, when it was not maple syrup at all, but just the familiar cheap maple-flavored corn syrup that sometimes goes by the name "table syrup", or perhaps "breakfast syrup" or simply "syrup". A fellow native New Englander at the table with me said, "This is an Amfraud!" When the waitress used the phrase "maple syrup" out loud in asking me what I wanted with my pancakes or French toast, I considered it a matter of New England honor to correct her; of course she didn't believe me, and didn't even seem to understand what I was talking about. I meant to take the time to write to Amtrak about this, but failed to do so; fortunately the mistake seemed to vanish from Amtrak menus fairly soon after my experience. What especially surprises me about this is that presumably the menu text was prepared by some sort of food professional: how could a food professional make such a mistake? Or could it be that when the menu was written, there was actually a plan underway to serve real maple syrup? (If that was the case and the plan was abandoned, all the menus in use should have been hand-corrected; letting them stay as they were was, of course, false advertising.)

Almost a decade earlier, in 1989 and 1990, I had taken some long-distance trips on VIA, and was impressed to see real maple syrup served at breakfast, in little glass jars with screw-on metal tops. Of course perhaps I shouldn't have been impressed, since how could VIA have done otherwise--how could the national railroad of a country with the maple leaf on its flag dishonor the great tradition of maple syrup by serving the fake stuff? I can't describe to you the feelings of well-being and closeness to the Canadian people that I experienced as I sat in the only lightly filled dining cars of the Hudson Bay and the Skeena watching the Canadian wilderness roll by, contemplating the fact that no matter how remote and lightly patronized these trains were, their dining cars were firmly upholding the standards of North American civilization. Would that the services of both Amtrak and VIA always upheld the standards of civilization this firmly!

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sojourner
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A lot of people nowadays (including me, I'm afraid) call maple-flavored corn syrup "maple syrup" and call the New England stuff "REAL maple syrup." Maybe that is how the problem arose.
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mpaulshore
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Sojourner: I didn't know, until you said so above, that there are people who habitually call maple-flavored corn syrup "maple syrup" even though they fully understand it's not the real thing. Please resolve that you'll stop doing that--it's an abomination! And when you meet other people who call the fake stuff "maple syrup", New Englanders and connoisseurs of good food everywhere would be greatly in your debt if you could find some way to tactfully set them straight.
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CHATTER
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Oh, brother...
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CoastStarlight99
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Does Amtrak get food from GateGourmet? According to "Making Tracks" which is the California newsletter, Amtrak orders food from them on the San Joaquin. WIth the new or newer menus that are national instead of the route menus that they do not use anymore, what is the main food supplier? I would hope that all of there food is still freshly prepared.
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mary_228
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I'm with you ds555.

I recently took a high end cruise and was astonished that the syrup served was not real maple! When I inquired about it, the waiter produced the real thing for me. Apparently it would be a waste to serve this to the masses. My own children prefer the fake stuff, which I believe is sweeter than maple syrup. But there's no way that I will even make pancakes or waffles if I don't have the real thing on hand. The other stuff just doesn't compare! We must be grateful, however, that everyone does not demand maple syrup, for then the price would become even higher.

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sbalax
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When I return from Nashville I'll hunt up my recipe for "Southern Pacific Railroad French Toast". The key part of it is, after being fried, it needs to go in the oven for a bit to "puff up".

Looking forward to my Surfliner trip home from LAUPT to SBA on Tuesday.

Frank in warm, humid BNA

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sojourner
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ds555: OK, I will try! But you must promise in future to call Budweiser, Coors, et al "beer-flavored water" and reserve the term "beer" for the imports and microbrewery product that are "REAL beer."
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Pojon
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As much as I love trains and Amtrak in particular, nothing beats the food on ships! The food my wife, son and I had on the MS Zaandam last November beats anything I have ever seen in restaurants or trains--and 24 hours a day availability! Exquisite stuff!
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TwinStarRocket
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As much as I hate to get off topic, I do take offense that America's ONLY non-pasteurized and non-carcinogenic (proven in in a 1980's study) major beer label, Coors, be lumped in with Budwieser and "et. al". Although Coors' flavor may be less than robust, and deserves the nickname "Colorado Kool-Aid", it still to me remains a last bastion of uncompromising brewing standards.

Amtrak used to be offer Coors in the lounge cars of the western LD's, probaby when they bought stock from local suppliers. Since they switched to Bud, I switched to Corona or Sam Adams, and find both less satisfactory.

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Gilbert B Norman
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M Paulshore and others here who make it their "thing" to distinguish between the "syrup" one finds at most restaurants and the "real deal", will find this essay appearing in last week's Times Magazine to be an interesting read, as it supports your views regarding differences between the natural and processed table syrup products:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/05/magazine/how-my-grandmother-became-flush-with-syrup.html

Brief passage:

  • After my grandmother died, my father took over. Every spring he makes the drive from Boston to the North Country and loads up his trunk with syrup. My brother is in Washington, D.C., my sister in Los Angeles and I’m in the Pacific Northwest, but we all get heavy boxes delivered by U.P.S. with a year’s supply. My children, who are growing up Oregonians, have developed a proper reverence for Vermont maple syrup, turning up their noses at the “fake stuff” and pointing out to their friends after a sleepover that they should pour responsibly and never leave puddles on their plates when the pancakes are gone.

    A few years ago, friends and family converged in my cousin’s Connecticut backyard when my sister flew back from L.A. to be married. Next to the place settings, she had left everyone a gift. Low autumn sun cut through the trees and across the tables, shining golden through each small maple-leaf-shaped bottle.
Being raised in New England (well, Fairfield County IS New England; right?), and having had a Mother and Father for whom the "nice" adjective is "discerning", the "real deal" is all I ever knew as a kid. But somehow Today, I doubt if I could tell "real" and "artificial" apart.
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Ira Slotkin
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Hey twin star - don't hate getting off topic. We have an assortment of diatribe hereon, so a bit of syrup under the pancake, well ... to me that is to be preferred.

Meanwhile, a lon as we are off topic and talking about syrup, I recommend Fox's U-bet Chocolate Syrup for those of you who cherish a good home made egg cream I also make my own seltzer. Infinitely better than store bought. When I go back East - STL or further - I always get a supply. The TSA invariably opens at least one of the bottles when I check it in my baggage.

I think there's a poem here somewhere. I did a piece about commodes so pancake syrup cannot be far behind.

AMTRAK never opened onme when I have come home by train. There. Got us back. Whew,

Ira - moving like authentic, organic, wholesome, tasty, original pancake syrup toward a few hundred posts

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smitty195
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When I saw a thread resurrected from 2005, I said to myself, "Self, that HAS to be GBN's doing". [Big Grin]
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Stephen W
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I'm amazed that people can spend so much time discussing the merits or otherwise of syrup. Why not do what we do here and have marmalade? It's delicious!
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Henry Kisor
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In my neck of the woods, thimbleberry jam is considered the piece de resistance of the breakfast table. Thimbleberries are a large and very soft variety of raspberry, so delicate they will not keep in the store and so must be eaten on the spot or turned into jam. The taste is out of this world. You can find the jam, usually homemade, in specialty stores in the Upper Peninsula, Washington and Oregon.

In the U.P. in particular, you can determine the sincerity of a person's Christianity in his willingness (or lack thereof) to vouchsafe the location of his favorite berry patch.

There is a peril: Black bears love thimbleberries, too. You must keep a weather eye out for furry ears bobbing in the bush next to yours.

One more factlet: Thimbleberry leaves are large and soft and make an excellent woods substitute for TP.

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mgt
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I feel sorry for the original questioner! I am frequently amused by the way in which a genuine request for information can lead to an orgy of nostalgia, anecdote and reminiscence; it can be one of the pleasures of this forum.
Information on current Amtrak menus can be found on the Amtrak site.
Last year on the Southwest Chief we were surprised, and impressed, by the variety of additional items on the dinner menu, including a very acceptable duck. I do not,however,know what the criteria for offering these additional items are.

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Henry Kisor
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Most railfans have reached the age when the only orgies they attend are ones of nostalgia, anecdote and reminiscence.

P.S. Duck? On Amtrak? That must have been a fleeting experiment!

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TwinStarRocket
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When looking for those thimbleberries, here is advice from another train site on bear awareness:

"We advise that outdoorsmen wear noisy little bells on their clothing so as not to startle any bears. We also advise outdoorsmen to carry pepper spray with them in case of an encounter with a bear.

It is also a good idea to watch out for fresh signs of bear activity. Outdoorsmen should recognize the difference between black bear and grizzly bear scat (feces.) Black bear scat is smaller and contains lots of berries and squirrel fur. Grizzly bear scat has little bells in it and smells like pepper."

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mgt
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Well, Mr Kisor, Amtrak was simply following in the slipstream of the LNER, where Mallard was frequently found.
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Ocala Mike
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quote:
Originally posted by Ira Slotkin:


I recommend Fox's U-bet Chocolate Syrup for those of you who cherish a good home made egg cream


Leave it to Ira, this group's resident poet laureate, to resurrect thoughts of egg creams in this old New Yorker's brain. Haven't had a real egg cream since the old days in Jamaica, Queens.
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RR4me
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I don't even know what an "egg cream" is! On to google. But I can get a pretty good ice cream soda at the Fallon House in Columbia State Park, up the road [Smile]
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RR4me
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OK, back again. Egg Cream sounds like a poor man's ice cream soda!
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Ira Slotkin
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Back in time goes Mike(ocala),
Others here ain't had a swalla
Of the drink that's an elixir
(if you've got the syrup right to mix her).

Better than an ice cream and soda,
cool and foamy, not one iota
Is there a better taste to me
than an egg cream used to be.

In Bensonhurst, Far Rockaway
In Soho or Jamaica Bay,
In Queens, or on the Island (Staten)
deep in the Bronx, or walled Manhattan.

Chocolate syrup, seltzer and milk
make the drink as smooooth as silk
and makes me steer this thread away
from the topic of trains today.

By any other name, a rose,
would smell as sweet up to my nose,
But naught to memory can compare
to egg cream dreams, residing there.

I thought this topic might inspire
An ode, and sure did just transpire;
The muse (methinks it is the truth)
Must of needs have a sweet tooth.

And if she doesn't, well I do...

Ira

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RRRICH
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Good job, Ira -- [Smile] [Smile] [Smile]
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HopefulRailUser
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Love it. We need more poetry Ira.

--------------------
Vicki in usually sunny Southern California

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Ira Slotkin
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Thanks Vicki and Rich. I'll keep it on the menu.
Posts: 300 | From: Denver, CO USA | Registered: Aug 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Ocala Mike
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Wow, I'm thinking I'm almost Ira's muse (at least as far as egg creams are concerned, and if a muse can be male). Fantastic work; I can almost taste one now.
Posts: 1496 | From: Ocala, FL | Registered: Dec 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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