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July Changes to Lake Shore and Capitol Limited Dining


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#181 TiBike

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Posted 17 July 2018 - 12:16 PM

As Scotch whisky goes, Dewars White is OK. Middle of the road call whisky. It's not distinctive enough to turn anyone off (e.g. some people love Johnny Walker Black, some hate it) but it's high enough quality that it's recognisably Scotch whisky. You don't have to be particularly particular to prefer a Scotch whisky over others. If you're really particular, you're going to want to bring your own anyway.

 

There's probably some supply side considerations – maybe their supplier has it at a good price – but it also falls into the "drinkable but inoffensive" category.

 

No contradiction.

 

In a similar vein I wonder which group is particular enough to prefer a Scotch whiskey and yet not particular enough to care that it's Dewar's White.  Contradictions like this indicate that the menu is probably based on supply side economics rather than actual consumer preferences.


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#182 keelhauled

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Posted 17 July 2018 - 01:12 PM

Now as far as this article, USA Today is a respectable newspaper and not a government mouthpiece, they should know better than to just reprint a press release.


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#183 Devil's Advocate

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Posted 17 July 2018 - 02:09 PM

As Scotch whisky goes, Dewars White is OK. Middle of the road call whisky. It's not distinctive enough to turn anyone off (e.g. some people love Johnny Walker Black, some hate it) but it's high enough quality that it's recognisably Scotch whisky. You don't have to be particularly particular to prefer a Scotch whisky over others. If you're really particular, you're going to want to bring your own anyway. There's probably some supply side considerations – maybe their supplier has it at a good price – but it also falls into the "drinkable but inoffensive" category. No contradiction.


Love it or hate it at least Johnnie Walker Black is a legitimate middle road Scotch that can be consumed neat or on the rocks. Dewar's White sits on the bottom rung of the name brand blends next to JW Red. It's fine as a cocktail base but what is the point of ordering a Scotch you cannot sip straight from a server who cannot make a proper whiskey based cocktail? Dewar's White is the Jim Beam of Scotch. It serves no purpose other than coming from a specific location at a very low cost, which probably explains why so many carriers use it as a generic bullet point filler.

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#184 TiBike

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Posted 17 July 2018 - 06:32 PM

I happen to love Black Label -- it's reliable and universally available, usually within a 5 minute walk of any train station -- but I have friends who differ. Which has led to many pleasant hours of comparative, deconstructive analysis – can't properly debate blends without single malt references. I'm not extolling the virtues of White Label, just saying it's a safe, inoffensive choice, not another sneak attack on long distance trains.


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#185 railiner

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Posted 17 July 2018 - 11:13 PM

The more you drink, the less you will care about the  difference between the "good stuff" and "the rest"... :P  ;)


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#186 JRR

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Posted 18 July 2018 - 05:55 AM

I’m a single malt person myself. That being said, there is a large number of them and each has its following.

#187 ehbowen

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Posted 18 July 2018 - 08:32 AM

I'm not a drinker. That said, In My Opinion when you're serving a captive audience at "stadium" prices it behooves you to stock and to serve the very highest quality items available (considering the limited "single serve" packaging and other factors, of course). The increase in your marginal cost is insignificant relative to what you're charging; your regular customers are less likely to feel that they're getting ripped off; and your "occasional" customers are more likely to splurge and give your selections a try.

 

Edit To Add: Good number...goes with the avatar!

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Edited by ehbowen, 18 July 2018 - 08:37 AM.

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#188 Devil's Advocate

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Posted 18 July 2018 - 11:07 AM

I happen to love Black Label -- it's reliable and universally available, usually within a 5 minute walk of any train station -- but I have friends who differ. Which has led to many pleasant hours of comparative, deconstructive analysis – can't properly debate blends without single malt references. I'm not extolling the virtues of White Label, just saying it's a safe, inoffensive choice, not another sneak attack on long distance trains.

 
This isn't limited to Amtrak or long distance trains specifically.  Back when I first started drinking Johnnie Walker Black was one of the most common options for planes, trains, and hotel minibars.  It didn't have any single malt cachet or small batch snob appeal but it was perfectly serviceable in terms of commercial scale taste and pedigree.  It also did a decent job of introducing new drinkers to the flavor of a legitimate midlevel blend.  Meanwhile Dewar's White has a quality and cost similar to Bacardi Superior, which is a rum so cheap and rough that it's often sold in clear plastic bottles like some no-name well brand.  I'm not sure if you've ever tried drinking it straight but it's not advisable.  Rum is generally mixed into something else so the expectation of quality is lower, but any Scotch worth serving on a premium ticket should be smooth enough to be consumed straight up.  What is the point of serving a Scotch so low in quality that it can rival the street price of domestic rum from a plastic jug?  Dewar's White isn't a spirit worth savoring so much as a spirited lesson in supply side subterfuge.
 
 

The more you drink, the less you will care about the  difference between the "good stuff" and "the rest"... :P  ;)

 
I don't mind slumming it as a choice.  I just find it a little insulting when the bottom shelf brand is the only option available, especially when I'm traveling in a premium cabin or staying at a nicer hotel.


Edited by Devil's Advocate, 18 July 2018 - 02:35 PM.

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#189 Skyline

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Posted 18 July 2018 - 11:54 AM

OK. If y'all aren't even going to consider Monkey Shoulder as a top-tier scotch, there's no hope here. LOL

 

https://www.qualityl...ASABEgLgmfD_BwE

 

It's pretty damned good!



#190 chrsjrcj

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Posted 18 July 2018 - 02:21 PM

Here is another news article: https://www.wusa9.co...52-67c23ab9f2c6

Amazing that Amtrak has the media convinced that this is an upgrade!

Edited by chrsjrcj, 18 July 2018 - 02:22 PM.


#191 Mystic River Dragon

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Posted 18 July 2018 - 02:41 PM

Sounds like a piece of PR stuff, carefully crafted by Amtrak's marketing department, to make Amtrak sound like a purveyor of cutting-edge meals (rather than a picnic in a box), then even more carefully plopped into the lap of a national general-interest daily paper that was happy to get something they didn't have to bother writing from scratch.

 

If Amtrak truly believes what this article says, they are even more out of touch with many of their riders than some of us thought.


Edited by Mystic River Dragon, 18 July 2018 - 02:42 PM.

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#192 cpotisch

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Posted 18 July 2018 - 02:59 PM

Sounds like a piece of PR stuff, carefully crafted by Amtrak's marketing department, to make Amtrak sound like a purveyor of cutting-edge meals (rather than a picnic in a box), then even more carefully plopped into the lap of a national general-interest daily paper that was happy to get something they didn't have to bother writing from scratch.
 
If Amtrak truly believes what this article says, they are even more out of touch with many of their riders than some of us thought.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: mainstream news outlets almost never bother trying to get their facts straight when talking about Amtrak. A while ago, there was some article about the Ethan Allen possibly being extended to I think Montreal, and the "artist's rendering" of an Ethan Allen in Montreal showed it as an entirely Superliner train. If you literally look up "Ethan Allen Express," the first image you see is of the train, and it very obviously looks nothing even remotely like a Superliner. So I guess they couldn't go to the trouble of doing one search to find out what it looked like.
 
And when I was on #98 in January and it derailed, one of the articles talking about it was explaining that the Silver Meteor "was making its way from Miami to Boston" Another very easy thing to check. Or when there was a CNN article about the Viewliner Diner deliveries, and how "A completely new train made by CAF in New York will be operating on Amtrak's Northeast Regional between Washington D.C and Boston, replacing all the aging equipment on that route."
And in that article, they are claiming that literally everything is an upgrade. "Amtrak is continuing to improve its dining car menus," "Starting this week, customers will get a hot option in addition to cold meals." Are you going to note that up until a month and a half ago, almost every option was hot?
 
I really try to avoid reading these kinds of articles, because they're written by people who don't know anything about trains or service, and don't want to bother finding out.

Edited by cpotisch, 22 July 2018 - 12:25 PM.

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#193 Dakota 400

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Posted 18 July 2018 - 03:28 PM

The more you drink, the less you will care about the  difference between the "good stuff" and "the rest"... :P  ;)

 

LOL!  May I add what I hope others will see as a bit of humor as a follow-up to this post?

 

During an Alaskan cruise, a whale was spotted near the ship during Happy Hour.  Everyone rushed to the windows with the hope of seeing the whale.  Most of us were disappointed.  Then, a Lounge Steward said in a very loud voice,"The more you drink, the more whales you'll see!"


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#194 OlympianHiawatha

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Posted 19 July 2018 - 12:38 AM

Here is another news article: https://www.wusa9.co...52-67c23ab9f2c6

Amazing that Amtrak has the media convinced that this is an upgrade!

 

The meal looks exactly like something already being served in the Diner; but at least it is a step in the right direction.  Now just get a HOT breakfast in the mix.

 

Now, I sure would like to know the reason behind a balsa wood box vs. a cardboard box.  I would think that would be quite a bit more costly....



#195 Manny T

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Posted 19 July 2018 - 09:48 AM

Yes, I've had that "braised beef" in the Diner occasionally when I saw it on the menu. I assumed it was an Aramark creation then, and I assume the version in the box will be from Aramark too.

 

In the Diner the braised beef was overcooked, juiceless, hard as a rock and gray inside.

 

I assume it will be the same when served in a box and reheated. (It can't be worse.) 


Edited by Manny T, 19 July 2018 - 09:49 AM.


#196 Skyline

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Posted 19 July 2018 - 10:26 AM

Yes, I've had that "braised beef" in the Diner occasionally when I saw it on the menu. I assumed it was an Aramark creation then, and I assume the version in the box will be from Aramark too.

 

In the Diner the braised beef was overcooked, juiceless, hard as a rock and gray inside.

 

I assume it will be the same when served in a box and reheated. (It can't be worse.) 

 

AraMark is evidence of how America has continued to dumb down -- at stadiums, colleges, transportation, cafeterias. They love to have exclusivity at venues so there is no competition to keep them in line. The public suffers.

 

At least the National Park Service has finally caught on, not renewing long term AraMark concession contracts in a number of well known Parks. The result has been a New Day as those replacing them (ex: Delaware North in Shenandoah NP) has seriously upgraded facilities, menus, offerings, attitudes. They still have a ways to go in H-R, but as far as the public's interaction in their venues the reaction has been mostly good. Without a proactive NPS, would this have happened? 

 

Perhaps Amtrak should expand its horizons too.


Edited by Skyline, 19 July 2018 - 10:27 AM.

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#197 bretton88

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Posted 19 July 2018 - 12:33 PM

 

Yes, I've had that "braised beef" in the Diner occasionally when I saw it on the menu. I assumed it was an Aramark creation then, and I assume the version in the box will be from Aramark too.

 

In the Diner the braised beef was overcooked, juiceless, hard as a rock and gray inside.

 

I assume it will be the same when served in a box and reheated. (It can't be worse.) 

 

AraMark is evidence of how America has continued to dumb down -- at stadiums, colleges, transportation, cafeterias. They love to have exclusivity at venues so there is no competition to keep them in line. The public suffers.

 

At least the National Park Service has finally caught on, not renewing long term AraMark concession contracts in a number of well known Parks. The result has been a New Day as those replacing them (ex: Delaware North in Shenandoah NP) has seriously upgraded facilities, menus, offerings, attitudes. They still have a ways to go in H-R, but as far as the public's interaction in their venues the reaction has been mostly good. Without a proactive NPS, would this have happened? 

 

Perhaps Amtrak should expand its horizons too.

 

It has been noted elsewhere (I forget where) Amtrak is taking a look at their contract with Aramark. Now I have no idea how ironclad these contracts are, and if Amtrak can do anything with them, but it's certainly been brought up. I've found Levy can put together a pretty good product too. So hopefully Amtrak is looking at the options. Is Amtrak required to take the low bid? Because that's usually where Aramark is.


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#198 PVD

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Posted 19 July 2018 - 01:51 PM

Just about all of them can provide a good product if you spec it, and enforce the terms of the agreement. 


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#199 Devil's Advocate

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Posted 19 July 2018 - 03:17 PM

Just about all of them can provide a good product if you spec it, and enforce the terms of the agreement.

 

In theory anyway, but the indifferent number crunching process that leads to a hands-off solution like Aramark is unlikely to worry that much about the quality of the food afterward.  Even at the AT&T Center the Terrace Suites and Courtside Club offer surprisingly poor quality food.  Each suite contract can cost upwards of a half million annually so I doubt it's an issue with funding.  So far as I can tell Aramark is mainly focused on keeping the budget minding managers and accountants happy rather than the actual consumers of the food.  If the SWC wasn't facing the threat of a bus/shoe bridge and the CZ wasn't being threatened with a potential reroute through Wyoming I might be really excited about the thought of Anderson giving Aramark the boot.


Edited by Devil's Advocate, 19 July 2018 - 04:12 PM.

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#200 TiBike

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Posted 19 July 2018 - 03:28 PM

It's been a long time since I had Bacardi neat, and I'm sure there's a reason for why 1. I don't exactly remember what it tasted like, and 2. it's been a long time. I agree with everything you say about Black Label.  I don't share your opinion of White Label, but it's not something I'd drink given a choice, either. Which is why I often BYOB on Amtrak. I also bring my own food, at least on day trips on the Starlight or Zephyr. The real problem is the quality of everything in the cafe. When the food is Clan MacGregor-class, White Label looks good by comparison.

 

I'm looking forward to seeing the upgraded cafe offerings on the western trains. If Amtrak could just stock the same beer and wines on the LD trains as they do on the California trains, I'd be a happy camper -- an upgraded liquor cabinet is probably too much to hope for. If I'm in the mood for whisky, I don't mind bringing something I really want.

 

And yeah, Monkey Shoulder is the bomb  :)

 

 

 This isn't limited to Amtrak or long distance trains specifically.  Back when I first started drinking Johnnie Walker Black was one of the most common options for planes, trains, and hotel minibars.  It didn't have any single malt cachet or small batch snob appeal but it was perfectly serviceable in terms of commercial scale taste and pedigree.  It also did a decent job of introducing new drinkers to the flavor of a legitimate midlevel blend.  Meanwhile Dewar's White has a quality and cost similar to Bacardi Superior, which is a rum so cheap and rough that it's often sold in clear plastic bottles like some no-name well brand.  I'm not sure if you've ever tried drinking it straight but it's not advisable.  Rum is generally mixed into something else so the expectation of quality is lower, but any Scotch worth serving on a premium ticket should be smooth enough to be consumed straight up.  What is the point of serving a Scotch so low in quality that it can rival the street price of domestic rum from a plastic jug?  Dewar's White isn't a spirit worth savoring so much as a spirited lesson in supply side subterfuge.


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