What follows is a first-hand report on Amtrak’s “contemporary dining” option from what can be described as a very credible source. This report was for the dinner meal aboard the Capitol Limited en route from Washington to Chicago about a week ago.
Food Quality: “A”
[My wife] had the cold Chicken Caesar Salad and rated the fresh quality an “A”. I had the hot entree, Braised Beef, and rated it a “B”. It would have been an “A” if the meat was fully hot throughout and did not require a second trip to the LSA to nuke it further. Other passengers with the hot entree had the same issue.
Salads were fresher with more variety than in the regular dining car service (the seals around the salad packaging were hard to remove).
Stronger disposable tableware is required, especially for the knife.
The hot entree came with a table mat; the cold entree did not.
Dessert was a smashing success.
The first adult beverage “on us” was a pleasant bottle of red.
The box itself was a bit unwieldy if you were seated four to a table.
We did sit in the dining car on the Capitol Limited. Could you imagine two people in their roomette, each with dinner boxes on the little fold out table? No way. The meals were handed out at timed intervals just like the regular staffed dining car.
We sat by ourselves with plenty of room at a table as did most people. We did chat across to another table.
Frankly, the quality was as good or better that some of the meals we’ve had on international business class flights.