Emma Hoarty / Sun Photo File

September 11, 2019

The Tea: Okenshields Is Underrated

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Warmed by the sun’s rays shining through the large windows of Okenshields dining hall, I gently bop my head to the music playing on the overhead speakers as I savor the juicy, earthy taste of sauteed bok choy. As Camilla Cabello tells Shawn Mendes that she loves it when he calls her señorita, the thought hits me: Okenshields is underrated.

Yes, Okenshields, the black sheep of the Cornell Dining system, left victim to multiple memes on Facebook and articles on CU Nooz. Could it be that we are too hard on Okenshields because we’re spoiled by the gourmet fare, in terms of college dining hall food at least, from West and North? Or could it be that Okenshields is actually bad and we’re right to tell freshmen to avoid it?

Emma Hoarty / Sun File Photo

Emma Hoarty / Sun Photo File

Well, first off, Okenshields is convenient. It’s the only dining hall on central campus, and as someone who spends her Big Red Bucks faster than a freshman running to her first class after missing the TCAT (let’s be honest — the TCAT waits for no one, not even those who show up right as the doors close), I need to use my meal swipes. Okenshields is the perfect — and the only — place to do so, especially when you only have 30 minutes in between classes. Sure, if you have more time you can journey down the slope to go eat at the “superior” West campus dining halls. But remember, walking down the slope means walking back up the slope (rest in peace my calves).

Not only is Okenshields conveniently positioned, but they also open for dinner at 4:30 p.m., which is a lot earlier than other dining halls. I can’t tell you how many times I haven’t had time to grab lunch during a weekday because of meetings, back-to-back classes or just having to sit down and get some last-minute work done. Having a dining hall open as early as 4:30 p.m. keeps my stomach from eating itself inside out on the days I have to skip lunch. Now, I know what you’re going to say: “Just because Okenshields is convenient doesn’t mean I’m going to stop flaming it with memes.” Well, the food at Okenshields is actually pretty decent and I would even go as far as to say it’s good compared to the food at other college’s dining halls. Cornell Dining is ranked number four on the Princeton Review’s Best Campus Food category, meaning it’s safe to assume that Okenshields can’t actually suck as much as people say it does.


Emma Hoarty / Sun Photo File

Just because the food quality in general at Okenshields isn’t at par with that of North or West campus doesn’t mean it’s bad. The hard truth is that we’re spoiled from eating at the other dining halls and this food snobbery keeps us from seeing all that Okenshields has to offer. For example, what about Okenshields’s once-a-week pizza bar which boasts a variety of delicious pizzas? None of the other dining halls have such a wide selection of pies to offer. Let’s not forget about dim sum Fridays. Instead of waiting in a super long line that winds all the way around the RPCC dining hall for dim sum during Sunday brunch, why not stop by Okenshields on Friday, where you can get the same quality dim sum without having to walk all the way to North? Speaking of dim sum, don’t forget about the wok station with its variety of Asian food everyday. It’s definitely not authentic, but for a dining hall, it’s pretty decent. I still enjoy the tangy taste of their General Tso’s chicken, the pop of juicy freshness from the different vegetable stir fries, the crispy sweetness of the red bean sesame balls and more.


Emma Hoarty / Sun Photo File

Okenshields has such a variety of foods including Asian food, a taco bar, pizza bar, salad bar, soup bar, dim sum bar, hot dog bar and even a sauce bar for your chicken tenders! Most importantly, let’s talk about about dessert. Tell me which dining hall serves carrot cake — not just any carrot cake, but rich, moist, chewy, carrot cake — as often as Okenshields does. And we can’t mention Okenshields’ desserts without praising  their layered chocolate cake with chocolate shavings. Now, I’m not talking about that ratchet single-layer chocolate cake that’s often half-stale and smothered with super dense chocolate icing that you’d find at RPCC or Appel. No, I’m talking about the moist, almost melt-in-your-mouth, buttery, layered chocolate cake coated with fluffy light brown frosting topped with fragile yet crisp chocolate shavings that is an Okenshields specialty. I’m drooling just thinking about it, and I know you are too.

So, what’s the tea? The tea is that Okenshields is convenient, has decent food, offers a lot of options and you’d be lying if you say you’ve never wondered if Okenshields has a Spotify playlist because whoever’s DJing knows what’s up. So now that I’ve opened up your eyes a bit, before posting ask yourself: How would Happy Dave feel about your memes?