I tried both Amtrak's new food service and its traditional dining car, and now I understand why people were so upset about the change
- I recently set off on a four-day journey from coast to coast via Amtrak.
- The food, for the most part, was way better than I had ever expected.
- I stepped off the train a few pounds heavier - and much happier - than I thought possible.
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Surf and turf was far from what I expected to eat on my first cross-country Amtrak trip.
I had previously reported on a massive backlash to some dining-car changes on shorter routes, where custom-cooked food is going by the wayside, but the promise of gourmet eats on a moving train in the middle of North Dakota seemed far-fetched to say the least.Determined to figure out for myself what was behind the hype, I set off on Amtrak's Empire Builder in Chicago last week. Over three days - and five meals - we crossed through wide expanses of the American heartland, through towns large and small, and past beautiful snow-capped peaks.
To be sure, the food on this part of my journey was a stark difference from my introduction to dining on rails. On the first half of the trek from coast to coast, I tried Amtrak's new "contemporary" meal service, which has rolled out on some routes east of the Mississippi River.
But after Chicago, things improved massively. Here's what we ate: