TrainFood

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The Travelin Man
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RE: TrainFood 2005/04/17 22:41:50 (permalink)
None of the articles that I read on the topic addressed warranties or business interruption service. The bigger issue is that the Acela routes compete directly with the airline shuttle services. I realize that there are just some people who will not fly...period...bar none. But, for the people who used this as a more convenient option (less security, for instance, means less 'wasted' time at the airport/train terminal), they might find AMTRAK to be not too reliable long term, and it could make an impact to their business model.

Steve
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mayor al
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RE: TrainFood 2005/06/29 20:33:29 (permalink)

I am bringing this thread back to life to post a "Watch this Space sign".
For Father's Day one of my sons got Janet and I a gift certificate for the Kentucky Dinner Train that runs out of Bardstown, KY (think BOURBON & Stephen Foster)
We will enjoy a 3 hour Luncheon ride on July 9th. I will do my best to record the event and the menu for posting in a trip report here ASAP after we return.
If you have never been to Bardstown, KY I recommend a visit whenever you are in the Bluegrass region of Kentucky. Touring the various Bourbon Distilleries- Jim Beam, Makers Mark, Heavens Hill, and a bunch of others- is great fun and educational also. The Stephen Foster Story is a Musical production put on nightly during the Summer Months..worth the trip in itself! All in all we are looking forward to the weekend of the 9th !
More to Follow.
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Willly
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RE: TrainFood 2005/06/29 20:54:15 (permalink)
I can recommend the Planters peanuts on the few remaining bar cars on the Metro North New Haven Line. They go very well with the $2.00 16 ounce tall-boys...
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RE: TrainFood 2005/07/02 22:54:51 (permalink)
I am taking my first Amtrak trip in about three weeks so these posts really came in handy! We are taking the Northeast Regional line to Williamsburg, VA and will be traveling coach. It was nice to hear that the seats are comfortable-this is a 10 hour trip-but does anyone have any information about the snack car and what type of food it serves? And how are the prices? I understand my train does not have a dining car so I wanted to know what type of food I should pack on the train. Also, are you able to get food at any of the train stops?
How does that work? Thanks for your help!
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mayor al
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RE: TrainFood 2005/07/02 23:08:40 (permalink)

Boston Beaner- Is yours a 'thru-train' or will you changing in NYC or somewhere else? Much like my comments on the air-travel threads, my personal preference (considering a 10 hour ride) would be to pack along a good sub-sandwich. You can get some chips and drinks on board. I would also tote some trailmix and/or hard-candies to keep your mind off the time factor between meals.
Thats just my preference, I am not much into the snack-machine chow.
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RE: TrainFood 2005/07/02 23:41:52 (permalink)
Mr. Bowen-Thanks for the reply! We will be traveling on the same train straight through, from New London, CT to Williamsburg, VA.
No switching trains. I will definitely make a deli stop the day before and pack some sandwiches! I just wanted to know what type of food the snack car had to offer-my husband is a concession stand/snack bar junkie and my 9 year old son will surely want something as well. I checked amtrak.com twice and my train does not have a dining car nor any sleeper cars-snack car only. Looking forward to riding Amtrak for the first time-folks tell me there's nothing like train travel as a new way to experience U.S. scenery!
#96
BT
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RE: TrainFood 2005/07/02 23:53:16 (permalink)
The snack cars generally have a variety of canned or bottled sodas (including my staple, Liptons Iced Tea in bottles), pre-packaged sandwiches including hot dogs which they'll microwave warm for you, microwavable pizza, some candy and packaged cakes, chips etc. The best analogy I can think of is 7-11 or something like that. It'll keep you alive, but it's far from gourmet (or Roadfood). Personally, I would bring a generous supply of food and snack items and depend on the snack car just for liquids (because they give you ice and a plastic "glass" with the drinks) or maybe a candy bar. They also have beer, wine and even those airline bottles of liquor.

Strange your train doesn't have a dining car. Frankly, I am unfamiliar with a train that goes interstate or that distance (from CT to VA) without one. We have some trains here in CA that go from, say, SF to Bakersfield or San Diego thru LA to Santa Barbara without a dining car, but they don't leave CA. Perhaps, since they don't have a diner, the snack car will be augmented a bit.
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tacchino
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RE: TrainFood 2005/07/03 01:39:27 (permalink)
Those trains to Williamsburg look like the extensions of the regular Northeast Corridor runs (between Boston and DC), and since so many people take it for commuting and short halls, there is really no need for a full dining car.

BT is right; the choices will be limited, but serviceable. Check and see if you have any layover time in DC's Union Station (a beautiful place to walk through in and of itself). It has many food options for reasonable take out (particularly in the basement level). Pizzeria UNO and the like are one the upper level. But take care that your stop is long enough to grab something!
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RE: TrainFood 2005/07/03 22:17:20 (permalink)
Thanks, all for your information and suggestions...much appreciated. I am really looking forward to experiencing some bona fide Southern cooking in VA!
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RE: TrainFood 2005/07/10 09:52:05 (permalink)
Trip Report- Kentucky Dinner Train- July 9th, 2005

We received two gift certificates for the Kentucky Dinner Train as a Father's Day gift from one of my sons. Reservations are required for this dinner-excursion train, based in Bardstown, Kentucky (about an hour south of Louisville).
Bardstown was the home for Stephen Foster, so a lot of the "Kentucky Gentlemen" legends arise from this community. It is also the center for Kentucky's thriving Bourbon production area. We saw a number of 'Whiskey Barns' and distillery buildings on the train ride. Having toured several of these places on previous visits to the area, it was interesting to see them from a different frame of reference (the train).
We had tickets for the Luncheon ride. The company does a Saturday Lunch as well as the daily dinner ride. The travel part of the deal is a 15 mile ride out from Bardstown towards Lebanon Jct. Then the locomotives change ends of the train, and back you go to Bardstown. It is about a 3.5 hour ride. The train itself is made up of 2 F7 locomotives (early passenger diesels) and two dining cars separated by a kitchen car.



The dining cars have been rebuilt, but carryover the image of the dark wood, and linen of the higher quality trains of the 1930 era.

Sitting at the dining car table for close to 4 hours is a bit long, but you can stand and walk around a bit before and after lunch, so it is a fairly comfortable arrangement.

I opted for the BBQ Beef luncheon, while Janet selected the Catfish. There was also a pasta choice available. In addition to the Beef on a roll, the meal included some rather dill-heavy potato salad and what appeared to be 'home-canned' green beans. The beef was more of a pot-roast than a brisket, but soaked in a sweet BBQ sauce to the point of disintegration. The sauce tended to overpower the beef. Janet's Catfish was quite tasty.



The dessert was a Peach Cobbler and Derby Pie. We tried both and the Derby Pie won the taste-test.


It was a beautiful, if somewhat hot and muggy day. The AC of the train kept the climate comfortable inside for the midday meal. Jan and I agree that, had we not just returned from our Alaskan trip where we spent the day on the Alaskan Railroad, where the whole operation was a superb experience, this ride might have seemed much better than it was. However the track of the KY Dinner Train is-being honest-pretty rough! It was put in back in the days of the "Clickity-Clack" bouncing around railcars. I remember them as a kid riding trains, but in this day of ribbon-rail and smoother suspensions It was a less than good experience to get tossed and bumped around while you tried to eat gracefully. Also the closeness and density of the foliage to the rails really prevents a lot of 'scenery' from being seen.
It was an interesting experience and we are glad we tried it, but we probably would not take visitors on this ride in the future. Dinner tickets run about $60 and the Luncheon was $43 (gratuity extra)(per person).
sizz
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RE: TrainFood 2005/07/10 11:54:18 (permalink)
Wonderful report Mr. Mayor. We in the art department specifically like the way you offset that second picture. It makes the readers eyes snake through the report making it even more interesting without the reader knowing why..... you looking for a job? ......... Frank
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RE: TrainFood 2005/07/10 12:31:43 (permalink)
Nice pics Al and a great description of the train ride even though it was not up to your expectations.

Paul E. Smith
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mayor al
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RE: TrainFood 2005/07/10 12:52:18 (permalink)
Frank, The priority was the dining car not the professional model on the right side of photo 2 !!

Paul, I thought about the review a bit. We often only read of outstanding places...or terrible stops. This was neither.
On the plus side-
It is a unique dining experience.
The service was good. Our server worked hard to insure that we were well cared for
The equipment was very clean(except for the windows).
The food was better than ok, but not "Very Good" rated 6-7 on a 10 scale.

On the negative side-
The cost was high for the meal. I know they have to maintain the train with these funds, but $43 for a rough ride and a BBQ Sandwich seemed to be out of line for conservative me.
The ride was bad. Lots of harsh connections did toss and bounce a lot of the old folks (75% of the passengers were Seniors). This gave way to lots of old memories for them! One kid got motionsick from the swaying...that didn't help the surrounding folks.
We were reminded several times about the "gratuity" not being included in the price of the ticket. Orally from the servers, and P A announcements and printed on everything we received. I don't think the customers should be hammered like that at every turn. But that's just an opinion.

I believe R J Corman, who runs the train, is operating on a shoestring budget for this part of their rather large rail business. They move a lot of freight in the eastern USA, but this little operation doesn't get much attention from the corporation.

In short, If you're a train freak like I am, riding it once is worth the experience for the return to the days of rail that are gone...but as a place to go for that "special Luncheon" I would not recommend it , especially for the 'delicate traveler'.
BT
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RE: TrainFood 2005/07/10 12:57:29 (permalink)
I realize it's not for most purists, the kind of "well-cooked" food you had on that plate is something I miss from the days I lived in the South. Out here in CA they tend to undercook most things to my taste and some people really do eat most things raw. I don't mind when the sauce overpowers the meat if it's good sauce (none of that nasty artificial smoke) and the big hunk of pickle on the potato salad strikes me also as a very southern touch that's got me drooling.
mayor al
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RE: TrainFood 2005/07/10 13:35:08 (permalink)

BT
Picture a really done Pot Roast cooked in a thick sweet BBQ sauce for hours and hours. Frankly (no pun) it was good. I understand what you mean about the "al dente' school of eating! Give me home-canned green beans with some ham scraps in there for flavoring any day. I did ask the server how the luncheon compared to the dinner menu. She told me the Prime Rib dinner was outstanding. The meat is available in any degree of 'doneness' the customer wants and the portion size is dinner-worthy.
Medium rare is for Steaks....not BBQ !
azure
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RE: TrainFood 2005/07/14 01:27:18 (permalink)
Originally posted by tmiles

As a travel agent in my day job, I sell a little Amtrak. It is as other posters have said, expensive if you do the sleeper car option. If you want to experience a train (vice just get someplace) there are other options such as The American Orient Express, with it's beautiful 50 year old fully restored cars and white tablecloth dining, or the Montana Daylight that gives you great views during the day and stops at a hotel for the night. Trains in Europe or Japan as you often hear are excellent, but the taxpayers support them more than we do for Amtrak. I doubt that congress is willing to support a really great passenger train system in the USA anytime soon.
[/

I've heard only a little about the American Orient Express but have wondered if the service captures the luxury and feel of the old train system in the US. Have traveled by train since I was a kid and still love it, even with the dirt and bad smells. Sleeper cars are not exempt. For the big bucks you get a room that hasn't been cleaned since 1985 with a shower that smells like a urinal...probably because it is also the urinal!! But with it all, I still love it. Now, if you will, PLEASE tell me about how wonderful the American Orient Express is and I will try to convince my hubby.
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RE: TrainFood 2005/07/14 06:24:00 (permalink)
I can put in a word for the Coast Starlight. I traveled from my home at the time in Spokane to Los Angeles. My destination was San Juan Capistrano, so Amtrak provided a nice bus for the 60 mile trip from LA to their drop off point in San Clemente, which is only 6 miles south of SJC.

I went the el cheapo route and didn't get a sleeper. I'll never make that mistake again. The seats in coach weren't the most comfortable for sleeping, and I sleep in a Lazy Boy at home, so it's not like I was missing my lay down bed. I raised 4 kids, so I'm no stranger to them. However, I raised 4 kids who generaly behaved, and if they didn't, they got popped. Let's just say there were some brats in my car. I don't know how parents can ignore their kids when they're acting like the Katzenjammer Kids.

I found to my pleasure that when Amtrak says no smoking on the train, they mean no smoking on the train. We were about 30 minutes south of Spokane when the irritating smell of a cigarette hit my nose. I thought nothing more of it until the train suddenly made an unscheduled stop at a tiny town in the middle of nowhere in the dry, deserty land of SE Washington. This was to put off the man they discovered smoking in the gents. They left him there talking to himself.

The food was excellent, and served on white linen with linen napkins. I recall a tasty vegetable lasagna, wonderful omlettes and hash browns, and a nice thick, tender NY Strip grilled to my liking, which is stick a fork in it and hear it moo. For a quick, inexpensive lunch I bought microwaved sliders from the snack bar. While not as good as the freshly made kind, they were satisfying in their own, junky, bad for you fashion.

The conductor was extremely helpful and obviously loved her job. It showed. She even let me use her personal cell phone to call my sister with the revised arrival time (late, but not terribly so).

The restrooms were clean and didn't smell bad. After two days and two nights without a shower, I was pining for one in the worst way by the time we rolled into Union Station.

I'd do it again in a heartbeat, but it won't be in coach. I want my own sleeper, free of whiny kids.
BT
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RE: TrainFood 2005/12/29 23:13:32 (permalink)
Sadly, I have to report that the tightening budgetary screws on AMTRAK are having an increasingly profound effect. The silverware and china meal service is in process of going the way of the dodo. On my trip east aboard the Texas Eagle I was served a decent New York strip on a plastic foam plate and provided plastic utensils to eat it with--I cut right through the plate even with a plastic knife.

Also, they seem to have abandoned the distinct menus for different trains in favor of one systemwide, rather limited, menu.

Two items of AMTRAKfood that are still darned good, though, are the pot roast and the French toast. And the deserts can still satisfy even the most addicted chocaholic (I highly recommend the "chocolate pyramid"--a mousse-like pyramidal thing with a creme filling in the middle and whipped ceam on the top).
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