Discussion of Canadian Passenger Rail Services such as AMT (Montreal), Go Transit (Toronto), VIA Rail, and other Canadian Railways and Transit

Moderator: Ken V

  by f40ph-2 6400
hey all,

i recently purchased a copy of classic train's pullman edition. In it as many of you are aware is the article about the last and best 3 "all-pullman" trains that operated before amtrak. In it the author described an all-time favorite that he never tried, "the king's dinner". It was the one meal described. Other meals on the 2 other contenders were either described as a gourmet meal or not described at all.The meal he described was huge

(manhattan or martini, coffee, liqueur, fresh shrimp cocktail or crab fingers with special sauce, rosannay cabernet d'anjou, a fish course, charcoal broiled boneless sirloin steak with buttered mushroom slices, potatoes, veggies, a special salad prepared by the waiter, a headdy cheese with apple slices or desert from the menu).

I looked at the Canadian, Ocean and Chaleur and found good and exciting meals(on paper at least) but i was looking for something more....didn't quite find it. Did Via ever have meal this huge and more elegant? Is the menu on the Canadian, Ocean and Chaleur comparable if not superior to the meals served back in the goldens days of the streamliners??

Mark C.
  by marquisofmississauga
My first long-distance train trip was 40 years ago this month, so I can’t speak of the golden days of streamliners from personal experience. But the food on the Canadian is certainly more varied – but not necessarily better - than it was on that first trip to Banff in 1968. Although the food may have seemed plain by contemporary standards, it was superbly prepared. An added bonus in the CPR days was real silverware – and lots of it – not the stainless steel that is used almost everywhere these days. But VIA’s food is much better than it was in the early days of its operations. People didn’t travel on the Canadian in the early 1980 for the food, I can assure you.

For special occasions VIA prepares special menus. A kindly VIA service manager gave me some menus that had been used on the “Millennium Train” which was actually the regular run of the Canadian with enhanced amenities in Silver and Blue class, including special meals, an extra dining car so all sleeper passengers could dine in one sitting (as in first class on a fine ocean liner) and an extra Skyline car for activities including dancing. Not surprisingly, the fare was doubled for this run!

A couple of years ago my wife, son and I boarded the eastbound Canadian in Edmonton on New Year’s Eve. VIA had a special dinner menu for the occasion consisting of five courses: Shrimp appetiser, Tomato Bisque soup, salad, choice of four main courses, Crème Brulée and tea or coffee. A bottle of horrid “Canadian Champagne” was put on each table which, although a nice gesture, was barely touched by our table and some others. Fortunately a friend who had boarded in Vancouver had brought along two bottles of real Champagne which we enjoyed in our drawing room.

I recently returned from our annual trip to Halifax on the Ocean. A lot of railfans say they don’t like the reheated meals served in the Renaissance diners, but we find the quality is fairly good and sometimes excellent. My dinner of chicken breast with caramelised peaches, etc. on the eastbound Ocean was of Silver and Blue standards. You wouldn’t know from the taste and texture that it was reheated. (Many items on the Canadian, such as lasagne, scalloped or stuffed potatoes, are simply reheated because they are too labour-intensive to prepare from scratch.) The meals on the Ocean are prepared as first class airline food is: slowly heated in foil, then plated and garnished in the galley and brought to table on full-size plates. In the off-season one consist of the Ocean uses the Budd equipment which of course includes a diner. There is a chef, but on our last trip with this equipment the meals were very poor indeed. Some would say this is a plot by VIA to make us appreciate the reheated meals, but I of course can’t comment on that.
  by CarterB
IIRC, the train I took from Ottawa to Montreal in 1968 was the CPR Canadian....in any case, I had an absolutely fabulous dinner with appetizer, entree' (trout I believe) and for dessert a cheese assortment. All railroad silver, with a vase and fresh flower on table, excellent wait service....and even a finger bowl!! Also on same trip took IIRC the International Ltd. from Montreal to Toronto, and the Maple Leaf Toronto - Chicago, and again great meal service.
  by Tadman
As of 1995 the INT'L was amcafe only, providing the finest $7 micro-scorched pizza...