When you first see Morrison Dining Hall, you may ask yourself, “Am I at Cornell or Hyatt Regency?”
With the expansion of North Campus, some freshmen have had the privilege of enjoying the new gym and dorms. If you’re thinking,“Why is our tuition so expensive?” Now you know. But, before I give you a sneak peek of Morrison Dining Hall (which opens in Spring 2022), I want to offer some good news: you can have a hotel-quality lunch at Morrison every Thursday! So, if you feel like eating at an on-campus Shake Shack or Panera Bread, next Thursday is your chance.
Anyways, let’s explore Morrison Dining Hall together!
How’s the interior?
As you enter the glass front door, you will see breathtaking greenery on your left, and endless dining stations on your right. As the walls are primarily made of glass, the entire dining hall is lit up by natural light.
Beyond the GET-app swiping machine is the Ice Cream & Dessert Bar, featuring a fancy crepe griddle and an anti-griddle (think of a steel cooktop for making stir-fried ice cream).
Then, as you walk further inside, you will pass by several stations ranging from a Flat Top Grill & Salad Bar to Fruit & Juice Bar. Since those stations were closed when I visited, let’s focus on the Pizza Bar instead.
Transparency and freshness are the highlights of the Pizza Bar. Diners can witness the entire production, whether it is kneading dough, adding toppings or baking the pizza.
Equipped with two gigantic wood-fired ovens, the bar allows speedy self-service with three sides to take pizza from (i.e. Shorter wait time, woohoo!). When I grabbed my pizza, I was astonished to see how huge a slice was (approximately 7 inches in length). The three flavours available were white garlic veggie, pepperoni and cheese. I also served myself some fresh salad, two cookies and two cups of “fancy” water (which I will introduce later).
How’s the pizza?
Although better than North Star and Okenshields, the pizza did not deserve that much hype. Considering that it was a pre-opening trial lunch, I will try to be more lenient with the quality.
The texture of different pizza flavours varied. While the pepperoni was crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside, white garlic veggie was like a thin version of flat bread. When I lifted up the white garlic veggie, it was so rigid that it stayed perfectly horizontal.
The pizza taste also demonstrated inconsistency, as some pizzas were made just right and some were overcooked. As the unpleasantly burnt crust overshadowed the vibrant toppings, I was unable to distinguish between the actual flavours.
It is worth mentioning that Morrison’s pizza is not as greasy as the pizza offered at other dining halls. This allows diners to eat without having oil all over their sleeves.
How’s the salad, dessert and drinks?
The salad was standard, but the cookies were surprisingly delicious. For North Star regulars, you might have realized that their cookies sometimes taste heavily of baking soda and are sometimes too brittle. The m&m cookies and dark chocolate cookies at Morrison were different, though. They were chewy like Insomnia Cookies, and the dark chocolate harmoniously balanced out the sweetness of the base.
Last but not least, let’s talk about the water. It is no surprise that Morrison has a selection of fruit-infused water like other dining halls, but their sophisticated water machine is worth paying attention to.
Dispensing four types of water (hot, cold, sparkling and alkaline), the water machines at Morrison are probably the fanciest water dispensers I have ever seen. I first tried the alkaline water which actually tasted similar to normal water. Alkaline water has a pH of 8-9; though some people drink alkaline water for health benefits, more scientific evidence is needed to back up this belief. The sparkling water did not taste bubbly at all, which I suspect might have been a problem with the dispenser I used.
To sum things up, Morrison Dining Hall is so special mostly because of its unique atmosphere, rather than the food itself. It feels invigorating to dine at a new dining hall with natural light, a spacious environment and sophisticated facilities. However, it may not be a good idea to expect the same quality food that a New York casual dining restaurant might give you. After all, Morrison Dining Hall is still part of Cornell. Please don’t get me wrong — I am grateful for the new establishment and love how it stands beautifully on the edge of North Campus. If you are looking to try Morrison, I would suggest that you come in without expectations and let your experience unfold.
Reika Nakagawa is a current first-year in the School of Hotel Administration. She can be reached at [email protected].