Rural Missouri - October 2011 - (Page 10)
Dining on the tracks
Columbia Star Dinner Train recalls a bygone era when train travel once ruled the country
“Ever since I started working for railroad companies out of high school, I have always had a soft spot in my heart for passenger cars and locomotives,” ith the sun fading into says Mark. “When I had heard that this the western sky and the train that I had seen in action while I low rumble of engines in was in college in Michigan was for sale, I the background, guests jumped on it with a restoration in mind begin making their way on board and and to one day operate it again as a dinﬁnding their seats inside the train’s dinner train.” ing cars. They are greeted by an elegant Although dinner trains can be found table setting with crisp, white tablein other states across the country, cloths and candlelight reminiscent of Columbia’s is unique in that it is one times from the golden age of train travel of the few that has an on-board, fullnearly a century ago. service restaurant. As a thundering blast from the train On Friday and Saturday nights, dinwhistle bellows through the rural area ner is served with a brunch available on north of Columbia, passenger Mona Sundays for riders. Dickerson of Centralia feels as though Guests are served a four-course meal, she has stepped back in time. including appetizers, salad, entrée and “This brings back memories as a kid dessert, as the train travels at a leisurely riding these lines with my father,” says speed past scenic pastures and farmland Mona, a Boone Electric Cooperative Top: The Columbia Star Dinner Train takes passengers through Boone County for that most don’t get the opportunity to member. “He used to work as a conduca nearly three-hour round trip from Columbia to Centralia. Above: Waiter Adam get out and see. tor for the Wabash Railroad out of CenSandberg carries a tray of salads to guests. Riders are treated to a four-course meal “We usually start with some sort of tralia. I used to always enjoy riding the complete with appetizers, salads, an entrée of their choice and dessert. appetizer prepared fresh that evening,” old trains and the dining cars.” says head chef Scott Hampton. “Lately, Since opening in July, the Columbia I have been preparing a spanakopita, which is Star Dinner Train has offered patrons both a gourcheese, spinach and vegetables wrapped in phyllo met meal and a chance to recapture the romance dough and baked. I also have served up smoked of a bygone era on a relaxing three-hour ride to salmon mousse and other traditional appetizers.” Centralia and back through the rural countryside Next, freshly baked artisan bread and the of Boone County. Columbia Star Salad are served with a plate of “We are creating an experience,” says owner fresh, seasonal vegetables and topped with a Mark Vaughn. “There hasn’t been a passenger homemade dressing that changes based on what train near Columbia since 1968, so this is somepairs best with the vegetables. thing special for people to see.” Entrées, which guests select when bookThe train truly is a piece of history with its two ing their reservations, are then served. Options locomotives, three dining cars that can hold up include roasted chicken, pan-fried potato encrustto 224 people and a kitchen car. The two locomoed salmon ﬁlet, seasoned and slow-roasted prime tives are necessary because the train can’t make rib or a vegetarian dish with stuffed portabella a U-turn in Centralia and must go back the same mushrooms and risotto. All of the entrées are way it came. served with a varying side such as potatoes, vegOriginally built for the Great Northern Railetables or rice. way, the two diesel-electric locomotives were The meal ﬁnishes with a dessert Scott and manufactured by the Electro-Motive Division his assistant chefs make on board from scratch. of General Motors in 1948 and 1953. These These can vary from a chocolate mousse or crème 1,500-horsepower locomotives once pulled cars brûlée to a peach and blueberry cobbler or strawfrom St. Paul, Minn., to Seattle and logged milberry shortcake. lions of miles before being decommissioned in For brunch, guests are treated to a ﬁrst course the 1980s in favor of more powerful engines. of fresh fruit and pastries, followed by a choice Originally built as coach cars by the Pullman of a quiche with smoked ham or French toast. Car Company in 1938 for the Southern Paciﬁc All are served with a side of sausage or bacon and Railroad, the dining cars were once a part of a homestyle potatoes. A vegetable frittata is also famous train named “Daylight.” It provided the available. The brunch ﬁnishes with a light desservice between Los Angeles and San Francisco. sert, which might include apple crumb cake or The kitchen car once carried baggage for the vanilla mousse cream puffs. Chicago Burlington and Quincy before a comIn the future, Scott hopes to add a few differOwner Mark Vaughn, left, and manager Greg Weber pose in pany in Michigan converted it to provide all the ent menu items and themed dinners. Special holfront of the lead 1953 diesel-electric locomotive engine. major needs of a restaurant in the 1980s.
by Kyle Spradley email@example.com
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - October 2011
Rural Missouri - October 2011
Table of Contents
Dining on the tracks
Staying on target
Out of the Way Eats
Hearth and Home
On the brink
Rural Missouri - October 2011
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