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Cardinal out of Chicago


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#1 Guest_BoftheSeas_*

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Posted 08 July 2017 - 08:26 AM

Couple of quick questions regarding the Cardinal departing Chicago (booked in a roomette):

- how early can you board the train?

- will the dining car serve dinner that evening?

 

Thanks!



#2 Bob Dylan

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Posted 08 July 2017 - 08:40 AM

Since you're in a Sleeper, you'll be in the Lounge while waiting to board.

Generally the Call for boarding is 45 minutes before Departure time. I suggest you use a Redcap which are located outside the door of the Lounge. Let the desk attendant know you want one when you check in to the Lounge.

As for meals, remember the Card uses a Diner Light with Convection Oven heated Limited Menu. The same person fulfills the role of LSA,Waitperson,"Chef" and Buser.

Go for an early rez as you'll be eating Dinner once you cross into Indiana which is on Eastern Time but the Diner will be still operating on Central Time.

The Diner occupies half of the Lounge Car so is small. Try not to get the Table without a Window,it's not a pleasant expierence!

Also avoid the "Omelete" and the "French Toast Sticks" @ Breakfast, they're terrible!😣 The Lunch is usually very good if you order the Sandwich which is prepared from mostly Fresh ingredients.😙
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#3 JayPea

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Posted 08 July 2017 - 10:15 AM

I wholeheartedly agree with Bob Dylan about the omelette. I'm usually not a huge critic of Amtrak dining car food but the omelette is awful. The one time I rode the Cardinal, last year, I had one that was cold and rubbery. Kind of like trying to eat an inner tube that sat out all winter. I did have an Italian sandwich for lunch and it was very good.
Amtrak Routes Traveled: City of New Orleans, State House/Lincoln Service, Empire Builder, California Zephyr, Southwest Chief, Cascades, Crescent, Capitol Limited, Coast Starlight, Texas Eagle/Sunset Limited, Silver Meteor, Lake Shore Limited, Pacific Surfliner, Cardinal, Vermonter, Northeast Regional, Downeaster
 
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Empire Builder (Great Northern), North Coast Limited (Northern Pacific), Abraham Lincoln (Gulf, Mobile, and Ohio), City of Hinkle  (Union Pacific) Panama Limited (Illinois Central)

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#4 Guest_BoftheSeas_*

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Posted 08 July 2017 - 11:49 AM

Thanks for the help...and breakfast advice.  I'll avoid the omelette and french toast!



#5 oregon pioneer

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Posted 08 July 2017 - 12:40 PM

I thought that dinner on the cardinal was quite good. The choices were limited to two, though, so you had to be happy with a generic chicken or beef dish. It took a long time to get served, but we were a happy bunch -- ordered wine, and had a good conversation with much laughter. Who cares if dinner lasts two hours when you don't need to go anywhere, and the company is good?


Jennifer

 

I'm a "little Old Lady in Tennis Shoes" (LOLITS) from Eastern Oregon. I love to travel by train, though I live way out in the toolies, far from the nearest Amtrak station (Chemult). My station would have been Baker City, but they cancelled the Oregon Pioneer just before I took my first long-distance train trip as an adult. I've taken most trains in the West, but I'm still exploring new routes in the east.


#6 dogbert617

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Posted 28 July 2017 - 03:22 AM

I thought that dinner on the cardinal was quite good. The choices were limited to two, though, so you had to be happy with a generic chicken or beef dish. It took a long time to get served, but we were a happy bunch -- ordered wine, and had a good conversation with much laughter. Who cares if dinner lasts two hours when you don't need to go anywhere, and the company is good?

That's good to know, since it's one of those trains that used to have a full service Heritage diner, and no longer does(along with the Silver Star, and 1-2 others?). Maybe I will survive okay having a meal on that train, if I do go through with my plan to ride the Cardinal east from Chicago someday. People often do complain about the food and service on the long distance trains that no longer have the full service diners, but I suspect I'll be fine despite this issue.



#7 Ryan

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Posted 28 July 2017 - 04:27 AM

The Cardinal hasn’t had a full service diner in at least 10 years. I’m not sure that it ever did in the post-Superliner era.
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#8 PVD

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Posted 28 July 2017 - 07:53 AM

The LSL doesn't have a full diner for a different reason, and hopefully will get a full diner back in the not to distant? future. The other LD train without a full service diner is the CONO, but that is Superliner not single level train so a Heritage Diner was not in play.



#9 Lonestar648

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Posted 28 July 2017 - 10:24 AM

Didn't they take the Dining Car off the Star about the same time they took the Chef off the CONO?  Supposedly an experiment, with the Star sleeper passengers paying for food and no DC.  CONO got limited selection at the same fares.


Trains Traveled On:
Texas Eagle                                      Sunset Limited                            California Zephyr                                Southwest Chief                Empire Builder            Capitol Limited           Lake Shore limited (NYP & BOS)      Crescent
Kentucky Cardinal                             Cardinal                                       Pere Marquette                                  Wolverines                        Lincoln Service            Empire Service          Keystone Service                               Acelas
NE Regionals                                    Pioneer                                        Desert Wind                                       Broadway Limited             Three Rivers                 Coast Starlight                          
 
Amtrak Miles Logged: over 211,000


#10 PVD

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Posted 28 July 2017 - 01:58 PM

CONO used to be full service with a chef, but that has nothing to do with "Heritage diners"



#11 Bob Dylan

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Posted 28 July 2017 - 02:45 PM

The CONO uses a CCC as a Diner and as,was said the Chef was removed so the LSA acts as Chef ( Heat and Eat) and LSA and along with 1 Server slings the Limited Menu.

Not quiet as bad as the Diner Lite on the Card but Not Good either!😣 ( The Panama Ltd. used to have "The Kings Feast" on tjis Route and even Amtrak used to serve Excellent Regional Chow including Bourbon Pecan Pie for desert, still my Alll Time Fave!😙)
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Yet there isn't a train I wouldn't take,No matter where its going!.." -Edna St. Vincent Millay

#12 anuenue

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Posted 28 July 2017 - 10:14 PM

Is this the current menu?  It has a code on the back cover that says AMT CARD 0517, so I'm guessing it's from May of this year.

 

https://www.amtrak.c...Menu-0517,0.pdf

 

Any suggestions to try or avoid on the lunch and dinner menus?


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#13 Acela150

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Posted 29 July 2017 - 01:29 AM

Last time I was on the Card about 5 years ago, the dinner was good, the breakfast wasn't bad either. And the burger I had at lunch was what it was. I don't really remember what it was like 10 years ago when I rode the Card, but I'm sure it wasn't bad. But honestly to me the LSA makes it for me. :) You get a good one, they make it enjoyable. 


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#14 oregon pioneer

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Posted 29 July 2017 - 03:08 PM

Is this the current menu?  It has a code on the back cover that says AMT CARD 0517, so I'm guessing it's from May of this year.

 

https://www.amtrak.c...Menu-0517,0.pdf

 

Any suggestions to try or avoid on the lunch and dinner menus?

 

Ah! I see they usually have FOUR entrees. I think our menu was truncated even further, because we had a last-minute switcheroo on the car they were using as a diner (which delayed the departure as well). Anyway, it looks like the chicken with Madeira sauce is most like what I had. It's heat-and-eat, but tasty and well-prepared.

 

But honestly to me the LSA makes it for me. :) You get a good one, they make it enjoyable. 

 

I agree 100% with this! Our LSA was friendly, generous-spirited, and basically invited us all to enjoy ourselves, which we did (as she served with a BIG smile). Didn't get her name, but she more than made up for any other shortcomings.


Jennifer

 

I'm a "little Old Lady in Tennis Shoes" (LOLITS) from Eastern Oregon. I love to travel by train, though I live way out in the toolies, far from the nearest Amtrak station (Chemult). My station would have been Baker City, but they cancelled the Oregon Pioneer just before I took my first long-distance train trip as an adult. I've taken most trains in the West, but I'm still exploring new routes in the east.


#15 Bob Dylan

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Posted 29 July 2017 - 03:24 PM

On my many trips I really liked the Special Sandwich @ Lunch since it was the closest thing to "Fresh" that Amtrak can serve.

It was very tasty and the Friendly,Overworked, LSA/Chef/Waitperson/Bus Person prepared it right by the table.As was said, a good one makes,a difference.

For Breakfast the "French Toast Sticks" were the Worst meal I ever had on Amtrak, and some of the Omeletes were terrible also! I'd suggest going with the Breakfast Sandwich or the Continental.

For Dinner I'd avoid the Pasta dish, it's usually terrible also. You usually can't go wrong with Chicken,Beef or a Fish dish if offered?

Avoid the table in the Diner Lite that doesn't have a Window also.

Hope you have a great trip, the Scenery is special and the Card is unlike any other LD Train in its ambience.😉

Edited by Bob Dylan, 29 July 2017 - 03:25 PM.

"There's Something About a Train! It's Magic!"-- 1970s Amtrak Ad
 
".. I ride on a Mail Train Baby, can't buy a thrill.."--I said that!
 
"..My heart is warm with the friends I make,and better friends I'll not be knowing,
Yet there isn't a train I wouldn't take,No matter where its going!.." -Edna St. Vincent Millay

#16 dlagrua

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Posted 29 July 2017 - 08:41 PM

What is most disappointing about the Cardinal is that the sleepers on this train are one of the most expensive per mile of any Amtrak train. You will see $600-$900 roomettes at high bucket. For that price sleeper passengers should be given a very good meal not something mediocre. When and if they get enough equipment to put a diner on the Cardinal, it is possible that we will see a change but who knows. I should not complain about the sleeper prices because Amtrak is probably saying that if you don't like the price don't buy If this is the way the game must be played, that agrees with what I am doing.



#17 Ryan

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Posted 29 July 2017 - 08:56 PM

Amtrak charges that price because people are willing to pay it.

That's not disappointing, that's how business works.
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#18 Lonestar648

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Posted 29 July 2017 - 11:18 PM

There is a high demand for the Cardinal sleeper rooms, the supply is limited, so Amtrak charges a higher fare due to the demand, knowing people will pay for a room.  If the price was unreasonable, people would stop paying, therfore causing the fare to drop to a level would be willing to pay.  Just basic business 101.


Trains Traveled On:
Texas Eagle                                      Sunset Limited                            California Zephyr                                Southwest Chief                Empire Builder            Capitol Limited           Lake Shore limited (NYP & BOS)      Crescent
Kentucky Cardinal                             Cardinal                                       Pere Marquette                                  Wolverines                        Lincoln Service            Empire Service          Keystone Service                               Acelas
NE Regionals                                    Pioneer                                        Desert Wind                                       Broadway Limited             Three Rivers                 Coast Starlight                          
 
Amtrak Miles Logged: over 211,000


#19 Guest_Ken Allan_*

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Posted 31 July 2017 - 11:25 AM

On the subject of dining on the Cardinal after departing Chicago, I would recommend having an early dinner, and then head to the train.

Your in one of the best food cities in the US, take advantage of that.

 

The other reason for avoiding the "heat and eat" cuisine on the Cardinal is the nutritional issues with prepared entrees, read for yourself,

they are sky high in sodium, and high in saturated fat.  As someone who has to deal with hypertension and heart issues (my immediate family is/was

a medical train wreck), there is no entree I could eat, and even the Amy's offering is high in sodium.

 

http://www.amtrakfoo...9005D4AB24&EV=2

 

Ken



#20 Lonestar648

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Posted 31 July 2017 - 03:40 PM

Being in Chicago, if time allows, definitely eat in the city. like above states there are so many great places to eat for any cuisine and most price levels you desire.


Trains Traveled On:
Texas Eagle                                      Sunset Limited                            California Zephyr                                Southwest Chief                Empire Builder            Capitol Limited           Lake Shore limited (NYP & BOS)      Crescent
Kentucky Cardinal                             Cardinal                                       Pere Marquette                                  Wolverines                        Lincoln Service            Empire Service          Keystone Service                               Acelas
NE Regionals                                    Pioneer                                        Desert Wind                                       Broadway Limited             Three Rivers                 Coast Starlight                          
 
Amtrak Miles Logged: over 211,000




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