But is it worth it?
Dave Harvey of Bethesda said he was surprised to learn that Richard and Douglas are among Amtrak’s culinary consultants, but he said he has noticed a difference in the quality and taste of the first-class entrees. “It’s definitely better than it was last fall,” said the software company executive, recalling a recent dinner of beef tips and yellow squash. “There’s more flavor.”
Still, Harvey, who is often upgraded to first class because of his frequent travel, said he’s not sure he’d spend the extra dollars just to get the food.
Other passengers say Amtrak’s meals have sold them on first-class travel.
Vans Stevenson, senior vice president for state government affairs at the Motion Picture Association of America, opted to take an evening train so he could have the dinner. As he settled into his seat on the 7 p.m. Acela out of New York’s Pennsylvania Station, he studied the menu and contemplated his choices: herb-roasted chicken with mashed potatoes, Rockin’ KB Chili (named for advisory team member Bob Rosar and his wife, Katy), a wheat berry salad. Hmmm. Stevenson nibbled on the Love Train Snacks, a mix of nuts and cranberries infused with chef Douglas’s smoky rub.
“Tonight I’ll probably do the herb chicken. But I’ve had the wheat berry salad, and that’s also good,” he said.
Next to him, Sharon Smith, an attorney who rides the train from Philadelphia to New York four days a week, said the meals are the best part of the ride. She ticked off some of her favorite entrees: Rockin’ KB Chili, the herb-roasted chicken. She doesn’t, however, care for the salted caramel creme brulee, which would accompany this evening’s meal. Too sweet.
Stevenson later pronounced his chicken “moist” — “they use the leg and thigh, so it’s got more flavor” — and the peas that accompanied it “flavorful.” He knows it isn’t the same fare he’d get at Richard’s Central or Jenkins’s Porchetta, but for what it is — a meal on a train — it more than did the job.
Said Stevenson: “It was all good.”