October 11, 2006

Appel vs. Robert Purcell

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The day’s classes are done and practice has ended. Dinnertime is rapidly approaching and the stomachs of Cornell’s class of 2006 are beginning to rumble. Making the dining hall trek from anywhere between High Rise 5 and Balch Hall, freshmen must now make an important decision: what will it be tonight — North Star or RPU?
“Whatever hits the spot for you, we’ve got it,” said operations manager Paul Seeber of the North Star dining experience. Seeber and his crew of hardworking chefs dedicate themselves each day to create a home away from home for the freshmen dwelling on North Campus. With its open kitchen architecture, the dining hall enables students to easily access and get to know the dining employees. These student-staff relationships are key in ensuring that special needs are appropriately dealt with while likes and dislikes are accommodated. However, these special relationships extend beyond usual dining hall routine: staff members are always prepared to satisfy special requests, be they chicken-soup-to-go for sick roommates or personalized birthday cakes.
Concerning the daily menu, students need not fear boredom of repetition at North Star. With delicious and always changing cuisine at the It’s Kosher, World’s Fare and Make Your Own themed food tables, the menu, according to Seeber, is constantly “on the move, on the lookout to do better.”
For instance, Tuesday’s Make Your Own Sushi special is beloved by avid North Star diners: “I just love making my own sushi, but it always falls apart!” said Brittany Blau ’06. A hands-down favorite, however, is the North Star Wok station, dutifully run by Jean and King Tang. Auntie Jean’s authentic foods bring comfort to those students homesick for traditional home-style meals and pure epicurean delight to all the rest.
Seeber’s aim is to create a place where students can easily and nutritiously satisfy their cravings in a relaxing and comfortable dining environment. As he works ceaselessly at providing a diverse student body with its various forms of “comfort food,” one thing is certain for Seeber: “You can never have too much mashed potatoes or too many cookies.”
The Robert Purcell Marketplace Eatery was remodeled seven years ago from its original single-line service style into today’s “all-you-can-eat” freshman dining hall. Implementing a darker color scheme and a somewhat more intimate seating arrangement, operations manager Paul Muscente hopes to create a “homey” environment. Though open only for dinner and Sunday brunch, Purcell serves between 1,700 and 1,800 people per night. But is it too busy for people to get any dinner?
“Despite the lines at RPU, I love the Mongo grill!” said Melissa Barry ’06. So what else makes Purcell tick?
The Demo Bar is a unique feature at Purcell, with delicious specials including chicken wings, tacos, dim sum, and pancakes. Saturday dinners feature the selected food item of the month — be sure not to miss chili night on the 14th! Another delectable draw for hungry students is RPU’s Cross-Country Gourmet (CCG), held but once per semester since 1972. On this exciting night, the dining staff prepares the menu from one of thousands of restaurants nationwide, working closely with restaurant chefs and managers to ensure accuracy and authenticity. CCG features delicious and highly reputable restaurants from around the country, including well-known establishments like Chicago’s Latino-flavored Nacional 27. And finally, the Mongolian grill keeps students smiling with customizable stir-fry served nightly. And for dessert?
“I love the frozen yogurt with fresh bananas and sprinkles!” said Katie Tobin ’06.
North Campus dining can be characterized by the comfort it provides for its students and the great variety of foods served. The entire dining staff prides itself upon its approachability in the case of special requests, always willing to go out of its way to fulfill a student’s needs and wishes. Though freshmen may have difficulty deciding where to get their fill, they definitely cannot go wrong! So, one may be wondering right about now: “Where shall I dine tonight?”