Cuisine On The Great Western Limited

By Kevin R. Tam, President

Train travel is about the ambiance and nostalgia of rail transportation. It’s about rekindling a feeling that the world is not in a rush and you don’t need to be either. There’s no checking email in the gate area of an airport, turning on cell phones the moment a plane lands or texting every moment on the plane up until the “all electronic devices must be turned off” announcement is made. Train travel moves at a relaxed pace but still with a definite sense of purpose.

The service is superb and though I don’t want to diminish the service that hard-working flight attendants might give, it’s still not the same as the more genteel style seen on a train. There was a time when airline food was the butt of a great many jokes but if you’ve noticed that seems to have disappeared. I don’t know about you, but I hardly hear them any longer at all. I thought maybe airline food jokes had simply run their course until I realized that the reason no one makes fun of airline food any longer is because, well, there isn’t any! A bag of peanuts is a bag of peanuts. Not much to poke fun at there. In fact, more often than not, we’re grateful if our flight even includes such a snack. The days of serving hot meals in all classes of a plane are long, long gone.

Today, the features that make train travel stand out are clearer than ever before. At Uncommon Journeys, we try to raise the bar even higher with our own private rail cars, such as the Great Western Limited. This special mode of travel is a feature of many of our trips in the Western United States which take in a dazzling array of national parks.

Enjoy fresh fish that teases the taste buds. 
Photo courtesy of Pullman Rail Journeys.

While the traditional décor, high-end service and sense of comfort on the Great Western Limited are a big draw, we hear the most accolades about our cuisine. What can you expect when travelling with Uncommon Journeys on the Great Western Limited? A lot.

We have plenty of ways to start your day. Many guests opt for eggs, home fried potatoes and a choice of bacon, sausage patties or country ham while other like to add in an Angus breakfast steak instead of the other meat choices. Real (not canned) corned beef hash with eggs are one of my favorite choices.  Naturally, there’s plenty of coffee, tea, toast and fresh fruit, jams and jellies. A wonderful indulgence is our strawberry and banana stuffed French toast. The strawberries and bananas are mixed with a cream cheese compote and surrounded by a perfectly-cooked and crispy piece of French toast. Those looking for a lighter breakfast lean toward our fresh fruit bowl with berries, granola and yogurt or our cooked oatmeal with brown sugar raisings, sliced almonds and fresh fruit. We also offer everything from orange and grapefruit juice to tomato and cranberry juice.

Only the finest beef makes the cut. 
Photo courtesy of Pullman Rail Journeys.

Of course, breakfast is just the beginning of a day of fabulous dining on the Great Western Limited. There’s always a special soup, which changes daily, offered to get the taste buds warmed up for the entrees. Some of our guests prefer a light garden salad with a choice of Illinois Central Dressing or Pullman French Vinaigrette or an authentic Caesar salad which can be prepared to include roast chicken or filet of salmon. Our chilled tomato stuffed with chicken salad, tuna salad or cottage cheese and served with a refreshing pasta salad and fresh fruit often hits the spot. While our traditional grilled cheese sandwich gets a twist by being prepared with hearty Texas Toast and served with bread and butter pickles, traveling through the western plains and seeing fields full of grazing cattle often inspires our guests to order our Mainline of Mid-America Burger served on a special Pretzel Roll. Personally, I’m always drawn to our Capellini Pomadoro. The angel hair pasta tossed with a tomato cream sauce and topped with roasted cherry tomatoes, fresh basil and mozzarella is perfection on a plate. Top the meal off with a warm brownie or soft chocolate chip cookie and it’s a miracle I don’t sleep the entire afternoon away!

As tasty as breakfast is and as delightful as lunch can be, dinner is the spotlight event on the Great Western Limited. First, imagine tables set with fine china and a scene that is ever-changing as you zip across the countryside. You might start dinner with a view of a canyon, savor your entrée alongside a river and indulge in a decadent dessert in the mountains. That is the beauty of train travel.

An American favorite tops off a delicious meal. 
Photo courtesy of Pullman Rail Journeys.

And what’s on the plate is as memorable as what you’ll see out the windows. Our relish tray not only features the standard celery sticks and assorted olives but also spiced watermelon cubes that are so good you’ll be asking for the recipe. The garden salad is just the start of a meal where entrees include roasted Angus beef tenderloin with a Madeira demi-glace, herbed roasted breast of chicken with mushroom and sherry cream sauce, and pan-seared filet of salmon with vermouth caper butter and lemon wedges. You don’t have to be a vegetarian to love our roasted seasonal vegetables serve with herbed goat cheese and roasted red pepper coulis. Berries are the order of the day for dessert with chocolate mousse served with fresh raspberries or you may choose the strawberry-balsamic parfait with whipped cream and cookie crumb topping.

And as a prelude to a card game with new friends or gazing out the window at an awe-inspiring sunset over the Rockies, the Sierra Nevada or the Cascades, an after dinner drink seems to be the perfect way to honor the future of train travel and the magnificent meal you’ve enjoyed.

Have I whetted your appetite for train travel in one of the private cars of Uncommon Journeys? I sure hope so! I know I’m ready to head out on the rails as soon as I can!

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