After living in East Quad freshman year, I had low expectations about the food and overall vibe of the new East Quad dining hall. I had flashbacks to the stale food, gross smells and stark tile floors that haunted me every day – that and the three pairs of jeans I had to buy because mine stopped fitting.

What I saw from the moment I walked into the new East Quad shattered my expectations. Everything is minimalist and modern. The study spaces look like they were stolen from Ross. The hang out areas look just like the Rainbow Room that I envied every day in Couzens.

As I walked through the dining hall, I thought I had walked into a gourmet food court. There were 8+ stations of any cuisine you could possibly want – pizza, Mongolian BBQ, Thai-style rice and spring rolls, lasagna, sandwiches, a salad bar. Crazy.

Here are some thoughts on the improvised elements of a $118 million renovation:

The small plates

While at first I loved the small “tapas style” plates, the cons outweighed the pros. Although they’re visually appealing and allow you to try a bit of everything, they weren’t very filling and usually featured only protein and starch (not many veggies). The missing trays were a huge issue because having 10 small plates required 5 trips. In theory, you are supposed to eat less because of the small portions, but in reality, trying bits of everything made me eat more.

The sustainability

While the lack of trays is annoying, it’s meant to discourage food waste. And it does. Most of my plates were empty when I put them on the moving food line, and tray-less meals forced me to prioritize what to bring back to the table. East Quad also supports local farmers and offers many vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options (such as gluten-free bread at the deli).

The entry trick

Befriend any and all freshman. Their M-Cards are loaded with coveted guest swipes that can get you into the dining hall of your choosing. Plus, you won’t have to fork over any of your hard-earned snack money.
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Freshmen and seniors alike, if you’re looking for a hearty meal that takes you around the world, have your new freshman friend swipe you into East Quad. Caution: you may gain back a bit of your freshman 15.