September 17, 2016

North v. West Dining Showdown

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The annual pilgrimage from North to West Campus began late this summer, when some thousand sophomores joined their corresponding houses and surrounding gothics. Much like Christopher Columbus, these sophomores journeyed into uncharted territory that seemed to hold much potential. Majestic buildings, pristine grassy terrain and gorgeous views captivated students’ parents. Meanwhile, visions of the land’s true treasure rose (or Cooked, or Bethe-d, or Keetoned or Beckered) like high tide in those sophomores’ minds: dining halls, dining halls, oh how delicious you are!

At least, those were my thoughts as I tried unpacking my two duffel bags on Friday, August 19 2016. And as I ate my first meal in the Alice Cook House dining hall, I realized how different and improved my second year at Cornell would be.

In an attempt to make freshmen jealous and the West Campus population swell with sweet pride, I will now break down the differences between North and West Campus dining.

Location, location, location:

As they always say, “When there’s a way, the supply curve for will goes up, making the equilibrium demand higher!” So it goes on both West and North Campuses.

West, with five dining halls within two minutes on foot from any given dorm and the entire locale just a quick zip down the slope, these eateries find themselves on prime real estate. Views of the valley also available from some seating.

The Marketplace Eatery at Robert Purcell Community Center (RPCC) and North Star dining room on North Campus are unfortunately too far away from where classes are . For freshman and others on North willing to eat at these dining halls, they are located within close walking distance.

Weekendz (with a “k” and three “e”s):

On West, the Cornell returnees, as well as the transfers Cornell tries to impress, are spoiled with four dining halls open on Saturday brunch and three on Sunday. Filled to the brim with hash browns, tater tots, French fries, pancakes, French toast and finally (for your #gains — eggs), the eateries cater to everyone who enjoys carbohydrates. Becker offers delicious, made-to-order omelets, sometimes with smoked salmon as an option. I highly recommend.

On North, there is a rotation of which dining hall is open on Saturdays, while on Sundays both are open. RPCC brunches make up entirely for this inconvenience, as it overwhelms the hungover tired students with a spread that includes all the breakfast staples, made-to-order omelets and pancakes, and, in the fall, apple cider doughnuts. This Sunday morning pick-me-up helped me through many weekends my freshman year — a must attend.

Specialty Items:

Customizable crêpes give West Campus dining halls a hint of European class, while modernist salads, often based on deconstructed meals, give a contemporary feel.

Made-to-order quesadillas and noodle bowls dominate the dinner scene at RPCC. These cheesy classic and Asian-inspired items often bring lines over 15 minutes long. In North Star, the mozzarella wraps for lunch are topped with pleasantly acidic balsamic vinaigrette.

I wish I could add the sushi to this list, but unfortunately there is an issue with supply at the moment.

Overall Quality:

The West Campus dining halls comport themselves with a swagger reflective of the high quality food consistently offered. International flavors abound, as each eatery offers a grill bar along with other hot entrée options, often themed. Italian and Asian cuisines, among others, top the list of dinners that the chefs have mastered. Even better, one night per week, each House hosts a House dinner. These dinners feature food served in a fancier spread, promoting community and deliciousness. Lastly, the healthy eating at every meal is paired with a sleek feel in buffet presentation.

North Campus also offers an array of tasty, healthy options. However, the quality of dinner is slightly more inconsistent. With fewer dining halls, this sometimes leads to disappointing nights. Moreover, the décor lacks sophistication and style —  though some pizazz is in store when the drought ends and multi-colored plates come back.

Final Statement:

Cornell offers the third best college food in the country @princetonreview #thirdgetsthetreasurechest. But not all dining halls are created equal, and Cornell has found its way to give freshman incentive to stay at school at least one more year, giving West Campus the significant edge in quality.