Pizzas and pastas prepared fresh at Drake Dining Hall
Photo by Miu Hossanah ‘16
Just like us, Drake, more lovingly known as Upper Farinon, has its good and its bad days. With its new takeout option, Drake is beginning to replace other grab-and-go options on campus and is becoming increasingly popular particularly around lunch time. Here are a list of tips and tricks to help you cope with a tumultuous relationship with Upper.
Pro Tip No. One: The Power of Parmasen
Cheese goes a long way. If a particular menu item is under-seasoned, cheese provides saltiness and sharpness. It completely transforms any item including plain and dressed pasta, spinach, meat, tofu, and even salad.
Pro Tip No. Two: Always go for Global Bar
The Global Bar has been responsible for favorites such as shrimp and pork stir-fry, paella, and creamy risotto. It is the reason for those days when people croon over Upper. Why? Because the Global Bar is fresh. It is made to order and cooked on the spot — right before your eyes. You can smell the ginger and soy being marinated with sizzling tofu and fried rice right before it is delicately slid onto your plate by the station’s chefs. It is as close to a dining out experience as dining in at your college’s facilities can get.
Pro Tip No. Three: When in Doubt, Make a Sandwich
Again, the key is freshness. The sandwich bar and press is once again a made-to-order option. It has a variety of breads, proteins, cheeses, and accompaniments to choose from. On a night where food doesn’t look as well circulated as it could be, making a sandwich is always a delicious option and having it pressed brings out the flavor as long as you emphasize to the chef that you would like your sandwich melted to oblivion, otherwise it comes out lukewarm, especially around a busy lunch time. My most recent favorite: turkey and quinoa on a multigrain roll, with mozzarella, tomatoes, lettuce, and pesto mayo. Pressed to the max, of course.
Pro Tip No. Four: Wait for the Refill
If a food item that sounds good in the description is nearly out, do not grab the last piece. Do you know how long that was sitting there and how many fingers might have touched it? Take a stroll around the dining hall, pick up your other items and wait for the refill. It will be piping hot and worth it. If the refill process appears to be slow, ask the staff to bring more of something out, even if there are a few pieces left, they wont go to waste because the servers just add it on top of the new stuff. The difference is, you get the benefit of seeing what is the freshest.
Pro Tip No. Five: BYOD (Bring Your Own Dressing)
You can never really tell how the dressing at Upper is going to be, especially the vinaigrettes until you have poured it out all over your salad. Sometimes it can be a tasteless glob of oil. I may be crazy here, but it may be worth it to bring your own dressing, especially if you’re big on salad. Why not enjoy it? Pick up your favorite sesame ginger at Wegmans or zesty ranch at Wawa. Making you’re own vinagrette with the balsamic, olive oil, and cracked salt and pepper, suffices if you are weary about dressing and have not BYOD’ed.
Pro Tip No. Six: Ask the Staff
If there is something that is not out that you want — like Tazo Tea or ice cream toppings — ask the staff. They are extremely helpful and more likely than not, you will be able to get what you ask for.
Pro Tip No. Seven: Check the Online Menu
For breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Upper has a comprehensive menu online. Make a bookmark on your web browser for quick reference.
Pro Tip No. Eight: What’s Always Good
Plain pasta, spinach, tofu, mashed potatoes, roasted potatoes, quinoa, pizza, meat on carving board, brownies, and speciality chicken.
Pro Tip No. Nine: Takeaways
Some people like Goldfish and pretzels on their salad and M&M’s on their ice cream. I like them as snacks. Grabbing a little cup or handful to go is brilliant. Take a banana for later, maybe a brownie or two.
Pro Tip No. 10: If It Looks Good
Foodie extraordinaire Andrew Zimmerman says as his tagline on his show “Bizarre Foods”: “if it looks good, eat it.” Same goes for Upper. Most of the time, your eyes are a good judge and most of the time, the food is going to be good. The benefit of all-you-can-eat style dining facilities is you can try everything and decide what you like best for seconds.