The first time I was on a commercial train in the US, I was about 8, and we were on a family ski vacation, taking the (then) mighty Empire Builder from Minnesota to Montana. At the time, I recall my father telling me the reason we took the train, is he wanted us to have that experience “before it disappeared.” Apparently he could see the future of train travel in the US, and the type of service we experienced on those family trips certainly has become a thing of the past.
Back in those days, Amtrak was all about service, and we had a personal porter that attended to our needs in our sleeping compartments, and the train had both a “bar car” and a separate dining car, where meals were prepared to order, food was served with silver, china, and crystal by white gloved servers.
Nowadays….not so much.
We were taking the Cascades Limited from Portland to Seattle for a short biz trip, and while overall service was perfunctory, and the trip was more relaxing than driving, and one can work via free wifi, the “dining service’ has turned into a self-serve counter offering the equivalent of airline meals, at restaurant prices. The upside for those who partake, is beer and wine is available; you can eat and drink in the dining car, or take your food to your seat.
Sidebar: one wonders why the same security precautions that are so important at airports aren’t in place on trains? No security, no baggage checks, no ID requests.
We had a cheeseburger, cheese tray, wine, some salty snack mix. Sandwiches, pastries, salads and snack items like hummus were also available. The cheeseburger ran $6, wine was $14 for a split.
The cheeseburger was a microwave affair, and really not bad. By coincidence, our new best friend seatmates on the return trip had the cheeseburger as well, and she pronounced it “better than a gas station burger” (under her breath) and that’s exactly how I would have described it, and of course set us off on a long discussion of both ‘gas station’ burger and sandwiches.
It’s a step up from the 7-Eleven “Big Az” burger (previously reviewed), and was ample in size, beefy, on a very soft bakery roll. The fact they could get a hamburger roll out of a microwave to taste and feel like that was the most interesting aspect of my sandwich. I didn’t make note of the manufacturer, but for a nuked burger, it’s a respectable offering.