It all starts with choosing the correct front door to open. God forbid you choose the door on the left; you’ll be stuck there for five extra seconds as you awkwardly attempt to pry open the door for the stranger behind you.
You then make your way over to the stairs that were once riddled with cracks and missing pieces (luckily for the first-years, the stairs were recently renovated into an oddly light grey color complete with a shiny coat of varnish). You start to imagine what kind of interesting concoction Bartlett has managed to come up with today. A waffle assembly line? A smoothie station? At least Kosher’s pretty consistent, and if things are really bleak, you can always rely on the pizza and cookies. Mmm…cookies.
After entering the dining space and getting accustomed to the romantic dimmed lighting, your eyes immediately zone in on the makeshift display area for this evening’s offerings. You can count on a wedge of sweet potato, some kind of pasta, rice, pizza and a cookie making an appearance. Maybe a brownie or mac and cheese on a good day.
You walk around to each station and squint at the signs listing what they have. Harvest will always have sweet potatoes the size of footballs, some kind of grain and a creative vegetarian offering. Euro will serve up some kind of incredibly dry roast, under-seasoned vegetables and a potato side dish. Halal will occasionally have a tasty stew or curry, but Kosher usually has all of them beat with their fresher ingredients and cooking methods (hence, the occasionally long lines).
But there are times — ok, many times — when those stations have nothing you want to eat. At least there are some consistent offerings: salad bar, sandwich station, pasta, pizza, grilled chicken and fries.
After your often-unfulfiling meal, you may start to wonder how you ever “liked” the food here (#tbt to O-Week first year). You may start to think about dessert (or, if you’re like me, you’ve been thinking about it ever since you got here).
It’s hard to go wrong here. Bartlett’s cookies are consistently excellent, though there’s the occasional and appalling tray of over-baked, crunchy cookies. There’s probably some kind of cake offering which is usually dry but can be overlooked with some ice cream piled on top. If Bartlett’s feeling really adventurous, you might encounter rice pudding (mixed reviews on this one) or bread pudding (also mixed reviews). And there’s always cereal, which never disappoints (unless they don’t have your favorite kind in stock).
If you’re still not full after all that, at least you have Bart Mart’s yogurt-covered pretzels and trail mix waiting for you downstairs.
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