It's shiny, it's new, and it's got two freakin' levels. I'm talking about Putnam. Needless to say, 2015-2016 Hilltop/Garrigus residents were pretty pissed when they found out they wouldn't get to experience the brand new Putnam. With promises of a smoothie bar, a more diverse menu, and a brand spanking new feel, Putnam was slated to be the next best dining hall on campus. 

There are some ways Putnam really delivered, and some ways the dining hall hasn't changed. Let's talk about the pros first.

1. It's stylish as hell.

beer, coffee
Nate Aroian

Everything is fresh, clean and sleek looking. It definitely beats the mismatched tables at Whitney and awkward room additions to other dining halls. With every meal suddenly needing to become #instagrammable, the aesthetic of this place is off the charts. It's so new that some of the chairs still have tags on them (no joke).

2. The salad bar is poppin'.

vegetable, carrot
Nate Aroian

As an avid hater of all things remotely green, the salad bar here is actually very appetizing. Everything is fresh, cut nicely, and there's never a shortage of hummus. For those of you who are watching what you eat, most of the vegetables at Putnam are way better than the rest of the dining halls.

3. They have edible decor.

vegetable, lettuce
Nate Aroian

If the Putnam flavors aren't doing it for ya, they took a step beyond salt and pepper and gave us a fully usable green wall. If you want some basil, come and get it. Not only is it super cool looking, it's actually useful for making your meals.

4. The DIY we all wanted is finally here.

coffee, espresso, tea
Nate Aroian

While our beloved quesadilla bar is long gone (I'm still a little bitter about that), we do have the wonderful new ability to make any sandwich a panini. The glory of it is that you no longer have to wait and ask a staff member to do it for you, and you can heat it up to your preference for those perfect little grill marks. 

Putnam has really stepped up its game in some aspects. But before you make the trip all the way up to Hilltop, let's talk about a few transformations that went a little less smoothly.

1. Navigating is a nightmare.

coffee, beer, tea
Nate Aroian

I tried to blame it on confused freshmen from NextGen who had no idea how to work a dining hall, I really did. But the truth of the matter is, there's no good flow to Putnam. There's very little room to line up for meals and the placement of the juice bar and salad bar make for a jumbled trip back to the table. 

The two floors, while awesome in theory, pose a bit of a problem, too. Somehow the stairs manage to almost always be covered in squished tater tots and I'm waiting for the day that someone (hopefully not me) tumbles down the stairs along with their lunch.

2. The juice bar is different than we expected.

Nate Aroian

First of all, somehow every student came into this year expecting a smoothie bar. (I don't know who started that rumor, but whoever you are, just know you broke thousands of hearts.) The juices are all uber healthy, which is great. But you don't get to choose any of the ingredients.

I am a huge advocate of drinking your vegetables every morning in an energizing juice, but judging from the 3/4 full juice drinks in the dishwashing trays every day, I'm assuming a lot of the students who go to Putnam are not.

3. The meals are hard to locate.

pizza, coffee, beer
Nate Aroian

The dessert cabinet took me a while to find. I don't know if they are trying to discourage us from eating sugar or something, but I don't particularly like people hiding cookies from me in some random back room. While Putnam definitely tries to keep similar meals upstairs and downstairs, you really can only get certain things in certain spots. As a hangry person, if I want chicken nuggets, I don't want to hunt for them.

4. The food looks better than it tastes.

salad, turkey
Nate Aroian

Not to say that the food at Putnam tastes bad by any standard. Frankly, it's just more of the same. Obviously there are limitations to how good dining hall food can actually be, and Putnam does manage to present its food in a really appealing way. If you're looking for some mind-blowing meal, though, you probably won't find it here.

So the new Putnam isn't exactly revolutionary...

But it has an incredibly nice staff who all took time to talk to me while I wrote this article and prompted my photographer to take pictures of their stations.

Nate Aroian

You can tell that a lot of time and effort has been put into upgrading Putnam, even though it isn't perfect quite yet. So if you come up to the hilltop for the Putnam experience, say hi to the staff members, watch for the stairs, and don't be shocked about the beets in your juice.