Campus Cheap Eats
Aramark CafÉsBy Erik Blankinship
Building 68 (Biology Building), 1st Floor
31 Ames Street
Phone: (617) 252-1864
Monday through Friday 8 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Affectionately known as the “Bio-Hazard CafÉ,” this little nook on the ground floor of the biology building is quite possibly the cleanest cooking facility on campus. This place is known by many for their smacking good BLT (bacon, lettuce, and tomato) sandwiches (~$5.00). If you arrive early for breakfast, you can ask for a few strips of bacon and the cook will oblige for a dollar. They offer a variety of other sandwiches, including chicken and Italian hoagies. One of my friends who eats their regularly insists that the “hots” are what make the sandwiches so good, so pile them on.
The bagels (~$1.00) are very soft and mushy, making the self-serve bagel cutter capable of only smushing your bagel into a small mound of dough before it finally cuts through. The toaster can be set by the user, so be sure to check the settings before you burn your breakfast. The other fare is standard across all of the Aramark facilities: really small cartons of orange juice and milk, yogurt, and some fresh pastries which are really quite tasty and not overpoweringly sweet and sugary.
There are also a good selection of vending machines here, including an ice-cream machine which uses a giant suction hose to retrieve your selection. It’s worth getting an ice cream just to see the machine come to life and retrieve it for you. There are also fruit juice machines and soda machines which only dispense cans (no bottles).
In preparation for this review, I talked to Leslie Hastings, the manager of the Bio-Cafe and the other cafÉs in this review. She said she encourages students to give her recommendations for making the facilities better. The Aramark management act on every suggestion, and even take into consideration the large number of cruel suggestions students leave in their recommendation boxes. I shared with her VooDoo’s recent reviews of the campus dining facilities and she laughed out loud, so it looks like she can take the barrage of Aramark criticisms pretty well.
It should also be noted that John, the attendent who runs the Bio-CafÉ in the morning, just became a dad last week so be sure to wish him and his family the best of luck!
Building 4 Coffee Shop
Building 4 (Maclaurin Buildings), 1st Floor, Adjacent to Infinite Corridor
182 Memorial Drive
Monday through Thursday 8 a.m. - 5p.m.
Friday 8 a.m. - 3 p.m.
During peak hours, the line for the corridor’s coffee shop often stretches out of its little nook in Building 4 and down the hallway. The coffee shop has finally adopted extended hours, so you can grab a cup of coffee in the late afternoon without trekking to one of the ends of campus. The morning rush is intense, and the staff is sometimes literally filling up their shelves as patrons grab their food selections.
Fortunately, the campus coffee shops still serve Green Mountain Coffee. LaVerde’s switched brands this year to a coffee that tastes like a mixture of god awful McDonald’s coffee and cleaning fluid. Like LaVerde’s, the Building 4 Coffee Shop sells large fruit cups for $3.25, which offer a rather uninteresting combination of fruits: no strawberries, blueberries, or anything else to offer some sort of extra flavor over the chopped melons.
The coffee shop proudly advertises that they now have sushi. I was pretty impressed with this eclectic offering as I don’t know of many state-side coffee shops offering sushi and coffee. Unfortunately, an examination of the ingredients turned me off, as the third ingredient listed was “imitation crab meat” and I don’t have a clue what that means. It’s a bit of a trek, but I would rather head to the Bread and Circus in Central Square to get some “real crab meat” when I want sushi for lunch. Why can’t Aramark make all of their options healthy and natural foods?
Building 7 (Rogers Building), 4th Floor
77 Massachusetts Avenue
Monday through Thursday 8 - 6 p.m.
Friday 8 a.m. - 3 p.m.
The Dome CafÉ offers the best views on campus for those eating their lunch. You can glance over at the top of the dome, or across the river to see the tops of Boston’s horizon. The tall windows offer a nice amount of sunlight, which is difficult to find in the corridors and basements of the ’Tute where most of us spend our days.
The Dome CafÉ offers a lunch option none of the other cafes offer: grilled panini sandwiches (~$4.95, also available as half sandwiches and with soup). The attendent will grill your choice of hummus, chicken, or roast beef sandwich for you in a special panini sandwich press, which gives a nice crunchy texture to the bread. Unfortunately, when I did try the chicken sandwich, it was still really cold inside, though the attendent said it wouldn’t happen in the future.
They also offer really tasty looking slices of carrot cake, along with fresh fruit.