Tag Archives: venue dining

Academy Cafe @ the California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco – Review

Last Spring break I took the girls to the California Academy of Sciences, using a couple of the free tickets the San Leandro library so helpfully provides for its members.  I hadn’t been to the Academy in years, since it was at its temporary space in downtown San Francisco.  At that time it had a small but actually pretty good cafe.  Alas, it’s now become much larger and the quality of food seems to have downgraded.

The Academy Cafe is basically a cafeteria with about four different stations. Make sure you identify on which are the items you want to avoid unnecessary time in line.  The prices are high, specially for drinks/deserts, but that’s to be expected.

My youngest daughter had the butter pasta. It was fine. The portion wasn’t too big for $7, but enough for a 9 yo.  My oldest daughter had the chicken & chips ($12).  She had to wait for the chicken, and then it was very, very dry.  I would not recommend this dish.  It was a generous portion, however.

I didn’t have lunch myself, but shared a very underwhelming bread pudding ($4, I think) with the girls.

They don’t have regular sodas, the Izze sodas they do have were good, but very expensive.

The Academy also has a full-fledged restaurant, the Moss Cafe. Prices are higher, in the high-teens/low twenties for entrees.

Academy Cafe
California Academy of Sciences
Golden Gate Park
San Francisco, CA


Marga’s Venue Dining Reviews

Amtrak Coast-Starlight Dining Car – Review

My daughters and I have taken the Coast-Starlight train twice in the last couple of months, from Oakland down to LA.  Both times we had at least one meal in the dining cart.  All in all the experience was pretty positive.

Amtrak requires you to make a reservation for the dining car a few hours before.  For this particular trip, it’s soon after you leave from Oakland.  An attendant will go by your seat, and you can get both lunch and dinner reservations.  If you get into the train later or decide you want to eat in the dining car at the last minute, you can go to the dining car and see if any reservations are available. Chances are they’ll have them.  You can also eat in the lounge car, though in our last trip, this one was busier.

Service is very good and friendly.  The tables seat four, and while they don’t split parties, they do seat people together.  In our first trip, my two daughters and I shared our meals with two different single ladies, who were fortunately both gregarious and interested on the children, so we all had a great time.  We got eat alone in our last trip.

The food would not win any culinary awards, but it can be decent if you keep your expectations low. Prices are high, but you’re eating there mostly for the experience.

Both times I had their cheeseburger for lunch ($10, + $2 for bacon).  The first time it was pretty decent, not something you’d write home about it, but I’ve gotten worse burgers in my life.  The second time it was overcooked and very dry so it was hard to finish.  It’s a large burger, however, and neither time I was particularly hungry for dinner later.

My daughters have tried the pizza from the kid’s menu ($7) and enjoyed it.  It’s your generic frozen mini pan-pizza, but it’s pretty tasty as far as these go.  I had it for my dinner myself on my first trip – when I could not envision eating, or paying for, a whole dinner entree – and it was OK.  But then again, I really wasn’t hungry.  I don’t think they usually let adults order from the kid’s menu, but by then I’d built a good rapport with the dining room attendant.

One of them also had the mac & cheese ($7) but preferred the pizza.

During our second trip, my daughter had the “marketplace special” ($12.50), which that day was panko-coasted chicken breast and mashed potatoes with some type of sauce.  Mika thought it was just OK, but I had her left overs and they were quite tasty.  I would order this dish if available in my next trip.

Coast-Starlight Southbound Menu


Marga’s Venue Restaurant Reviews