This menu is dated January 10, less than four months before Amtrak took over, yet it shows the attention to detail and quality that would be expected for what was by then unquestionably the nation’s premiere train. The color cover shows the same Arrow Maker painting that had been in sepia tone on a Texas Chief menu from ten years before.
Click image to download a 1.8-MB PDF of this menu.
This menu has not two, not three, but four classes of service. First, on the far right, are a la carte items, including appetizers, salads, desserts, and beverages–but no entrées. On the far left are several meals: calf’s liver; chicken salad sandwich; sirloin steak sandwich; and chef’s salad, all served with rolls, dessert, and beverage.
In the middle are the table d’hôte meals: French fried shrimp; roast chicken; London mixed grill (probably beef, lamb chops, bacon, and vegetables); and sirloin steak. There’s also a children’s menu consisting of either hamburger or a child’s portion of the shrimp or chicken. All of these come with appetizer; choice of potatoes; choice of vegetable; salad; dinner rolls; dessert; and beverage.
Click image to download a PDF of this menu.
Finally, the upper left corner says, “Chico recommends our Super Chief Champagne Dinner.” That’s not described in more detail on this menu, but fortunately, Myron Hayden over on Waterlevel.com has posted a Super Chief Champagne Dinner menu. There’s no date on this menu, but it says “Fred Harvey Service,” which dates it before the mid-1960s. By 1971, the price would be higher but the menu was probably roughly the same.
For the early 1960s, the $7.25 price of the dinner is pretty expensive–close to $60 in today’s money. For that, diners got champagne; appetizers; soup; lime sherbet (for “clearing the palate”); entrée; vegetables; baked potato; tossed salad; rolls; dessert; coffee; and after-dinner mints. The four entrées are prime rib; lobster; breast of chicken continental; and London mixed grill. Many of the choices are unusual: one appetizer is spiced watermelon; one of the desserts is “forbidden fruit cordial.” All in all, a fairly filling meal and quite unusual aboard a dining car at any time period, much less just before Amtrak.