Cafeteria Food - Universities and Hospitals
A friend in Alabama said her elderly neighbor goes to the local hospital once a week to eat out. I guess it is supposed to be cheap. But we laughed because it really can't be all that good, right?
Then I saw this article, a trend to go out to eat at Crossroads, the UC Berkeley Cafeteria. What's up with that?
I count the hospital BLT I had after the birth of my daughter among the best meals I have ever had. Cause it Hit The Spot! Not the "best" one I've ever had, but it sure was dang good at that moment.
« But we laughed because it really can't be all that good, right? »
Wrong. There are institutions who are serious about improving their food programs so that their staff and clients are better fed.
And you're laughing at an elderly neighbor on the premise that they go there solely because it's cheap.
I work at a college that has an amazing dining hall. The general public can eat there for, I think, $15 for lunch, which is AYCE. Here's what you get for that:
There is a grill station serving burgers, hot dogs, grilled chicken breasts, fries (regular and sweet potato), and homemade potato chips; every day there is a different specialty item like a Cuban sandwich, fish tacos, patty melt, etc.
Pepperoni pizza, cheese pizza and a different specialty every day (i.e., Hawaiian, sausage, portobello, fig and goat cheese)
An "options" station with something different every day. The cook builds you a salad (chicken Caesar, taco salad, steak salad) or a specialty sandwich, or they might have a burrito bar or soup in a bread bowl.
A wok station. You choose the starch (rice, rice noodles, lo mien), protein (tofu, chicken, beef), veggies and sauce and they cook it while you wait.
A standard cafeteria section with two different meat/fish entrees and one vegetarian option. I've seen stuffed bell peppers, lasagna, Greek chicken, broiled tilapia, grilled salmon, quiche, and beef tips here among many other choices.
A full salad bar
A vegan section with three different vegan salads, two kinds of hummus, two kinds of (good) olives, and a hot vegan dish
A deli bar where you can make your own sandwich. In addition to the regular cold cuts and cheeses they offer homemade tuna, turkey, and egg salads, as well as cold grilled vegetables and tapenade. There's also a panini press in case you want to make your sandwich into a panini.
Two soups, one is meat and the other is vegan
Desserts: a soft-serve ice cream machine with two flavors; four flavors of scoopable ice cream; four or five desserts. Always chocolate chip cookies and then things like chocolate cake, gingerbread, apple pie, peach cobbler, lemon bars, cupcakes. There are always two gluten-free options.
A full line of sodas, an espresso machine, icees, juices, milk, soy milk, and last year they added horchata and a different agua fresca every day.
So yeah, if I lived in the community, I'd happily drop $15 to eat here. You can go out to eat at a "regular" restaurant and get a much worse meal for that kind of money.
(And also? Damn do college students have it good these days!)
There was one hospital cafeteria we ate at a lot when I was a kid - sick family member. They had the best french fries I've ever had.
I had the "pleasure" to visit a major medical center in the PA boonies recently. Their cafeteria is pretty impressive: sushi, short-order, salad & sandwich bar, pizza, a few entree selections, etc. etc.
Put together a quite edible niçoise-style salad. Unexpected, to say the least.