Dining In

Dining In
Trying every menu item so you don’t have to

Six weeks. 24 dishes. A mix of pleasure, pain and confusion. Not all cafeteria food is made equal, so I set out to find the best of the worst and the worst of the best. Like most people, I usually stick to the same two items on the menu, but over the past month and a half, I’ve been trying everything the cafeteria has to offer, so you don’t have to. There are some items that could have been made by God himself, and others that would make you meet him. Over the weeks I have formed a comprehensive guide of all the food Hagerty has to offer, so you can decide for yourself what’s sublime and what’s a crime. Before you are a list of the six items that stood out among the rest. 

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Weekly Items

Grilled cheese and tomato soup 1/5

Imagine this. It’s lunch time and your stomach is growling because you haven’t had a thing to eat all day. Grilled cheese and tomato soup is an option and, “Oh!” you think. ‘I haven’t had that combo since I was little. I should try it. How bad can it be?” Famous last words.  The tomato soup portion tested the limitations of what soup is, even more so than the weird “is cereal a soup?” debate online. Regardless, if someone had given me cereal instead of the ‘tomato soup’ with my grilled cheese, it probably would have been a better experience.

The bread, which made up 96% of the sandwich, genuinely made me want to try prison food, because I would bet allowance that they taste the same. The ham was brittle and chalky. Not quite smoked, but definitely stale. And the single slice of cheese would have been barely noticeable if it wasn’t for the plastic taste that attacked my taste buds a few bites in. Avoid at all costs. 

 

Alfredo/Spaghetti Chicken Pasta   3.5/5

Both have a sauce that feels diluted and runny, and the noodles are rubbery. The taste isn’t any worse than your average TV dinner—on a good day. It tastes watered down and reheated but still passes as pasta. The green beans it came with were really watery and unseasoned but honestly did balance out the meal. The Garlic bread off to the side was by far the best part of the meal. To me, it tasted like an Olive Garden Breadstick, though I may be biased since I haven’t eaten at Olive Garden in like a year, and oh boy, was I hungry… 

 

Boneless Wings  4/5

When I first saw that boneless chicken wings were an option, I was picturing the wings that come on the side of Domino’s pizza, marinated in BBQ sauce. In no universe had I pictured them being fried, but that’s just the Northwesterner in me (I’m from California).  Either way, I thought they would be bigger? Like genuinely if I was asked to identify the difference between these and chicken nuggets I would go insane. I would have tried them earlier if they had just owned it, and called them chicken nuggets on the menu. As far as taste goes, it’s not unlike a lot of other options, but pretty dry. It’s lightly seasoned, and overall, it’s a classic and safe option.

 

Nachos  2/5

The first few bites have a decent nacho flavor. The beef on top is well seasoned, though they put way too much for my liking. The chips only taste slightly stale, and the cheese doesn’t taste like plastic. It’s nice, especially if you’re a nacho person. The chips get soggy really quickly, which turns the whole thing into a sort of soup-like creation for the last few bites. Somehow, it starts to taste like cardboard after a while. Still, it is mostly enjoyable. 

 

Burrito Bowl 4/5

It honestly was not very different from the burrito bowl you’d find at Chipotle. Mine came with chicken, beans, rice and veggies. The beans were very overpowering but keep in mind I am not a bean person. The only kind of beans I like are human be-ans (I am not sorry). I couldn’t really taste the chicken over the bean taste, but it was there. The rice was kind of crispy in a good way and the veggies were a bit pulpy. It was pretty bland for my taste but  all things considered, I would get it again.

 

Orange Chicken 3/5

For some reason the day I got this, it came with the honey sriracha chicken and noodles. I wasn’t sure where to include the review of the noodles (it’s not listed anywhere on the menu), but they tasted like an extraterrestrial’s interpretation of what noodles should taste like. The texture was very off and  just tasted wrong, though I’m not quite sure how. When it comes to the orange chicken itself, well it’s definitely not Panda Express, but it’s also not a war crime. 

 

 Sriracha Honey Chicken 3/5

If you’ve ever tried fast food at the mall you’ve probably had someone shove a sample of the best chicken ever known to man in your face, whether you want it or not. Now, this chicken is trying to be that. But it’s not trying very hard. It does not have any of the flavor that makes the chicken enticing in the first place. It might taste more like mall chicken at the end of the day, when it’s been sitting out for six hours. It’s rather joyless, but not terrible. I can eat it blindfolded and know it’s chicken. 

 

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Daily Items

Buffalo Pizza 4/5 

Freshman year when I first got a look at the menu, this option confused me. They had cheese, pepperoni, (ok that’s expected) and buffalo? I genuinely had never heard of buffalo before I came to Hagerty. But, for some reason, all of my friends were getting this and  I followed suit. This has been my go-to for lunch ever since, and it hasn’t failed me yet. Some days it’s a little drier, depending on how long it has been sitting out for, but it always makes my day just a little bit better. Out of all the pizzas, Buffalo is the most flavorful and the chicken adds a decent amount of protein, if you’re into that sort of thing. If you’ve ever ordered buffalo wings and left them sitting on the counter for a few hours, you will know how this pizza tastes at its worst. 

 
Cheese Pizza 3/5

A classic and safe option. Again, some days it tastes like cardboard with cheese and grease, some days it tastes like decent pizza, though that might just depend on the hunger of the person eating it. It’s a little bland for my taste, but it’s a lot of people’s go-to. They have these little packets of parmesan next to the pizza in a little tray and it usually makes the pizza taste so much better. 

Pepperoni 3.5/5

If you think the cheese pizza is a little bland but don’t want to go all the way to Buffalo, this is an option. It’s not going to kill you, though out of all the pizzas, this one does have the most grease, and therefore most potential to cause pain. The pepperoni adds a nice flavor and again, it’s not bad especially for cafeteria food pizza. 

 

Yogurt 5/5

It’s basically yogurt with either jam or strawberries (or other fruit sometimes) at the bottom and granola. It would be a good breakfast, and a good lunch if you’re not super hungry. There’s honestly nothing bad to say about it, it’s pretty hard to mess up a yogurt cup. Seriously though, it’s worth a try next time you’re debating what to get- just sweet enough, refreshing and with a nice crunch. 

 

Chicken Caesar salad 4/5

The lettuce in these is always fresh, which is wonderful. I think the chicken is a little sour, which is a little suspicious because they don’t have these in refrigeration, at least when they’re sitting out for people to grab. Either way it’s hard to tell because the ranch it comes with is so overpowering, it’s hard to taste anything else. The cheese it comes with is pretty dry as well, but the croutons are absolutely amazing. It just tastes like a Caesar salad to be honest, and a pretty decent one at that.

 

Ham Salad 3/5

It’s just bits of chopped ham, chicken, lettuce and ranch. Maybe shredded cheese if you’re lucky. The ham bits always stick together so you have to manually separate them on occasion, and that sort of grossed me out. Though the taste is about as good as you’d expect. Thankfully, not any worse. It’s a solid healthy option, but it does leave your taste buds feeling, just a little bit joyless. In my experience, this salad is the most likely to have soggy lettuce. 

 

Fruit Salad 5/5

I would eat this every day if I could, but unfortunately This item is about as likely as a full moon. It’s a salad with lettuce, seasoned chicken, and strawberries. It comes with sweet and sour sauce and it’s easily the best thing in the cafeteria. Additionally, it still tastes good if you don’t add the chicken, so it’s a good option for vegan people. Tragically, I haven’t seen it as an option in a month and no one who works there seems to even remember it. If you ever do see a meal fitting this description, I promise it is worth a try.

 

Hummus Box 4/5

This is another thing no one gets. It’s a big container of unflavored hummus and stuff to dip it in. Usually, the stuff is a mix of pita bread and an assortment of vegetables. It’s not bad at all, though it’s not for everyone. It doesn’t have much protein and seems more like a snack than a meal sometimes. It is a good vegetarian option (which are few and far between) and relatively healthy, so if you want a break from greasy foods, this is a good alternative. 

 

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Drinks/Filtered

 

Hot Chocolate 1/5

It tastes like it was made with stevia. I sipped a few sips in and I wanted to gag it up. A few more after that, I started to tolerate it and it was warm. Most people who tried it agree something feels off. I didn’t know hot chocolate could be such a joyless experience before trying this. A while back I heard a rumor that it’s literally just reheated chocolate milk from those little cartons they offer. Even though I highly doubt this is true, the fact that it’s even going around, and the fact that people actually believe in it says more about this than I ever could.  

 

Lemonade 3/5

It’s watery and just… not amazing. It’s not awful either, though, I don’t think I’ve ever tried lemonade that was awful. I can, however, say the fourth graders at the end of my block sell better tasting lemonade, but that’s to be expected. Or maybe it’s mildly concerning, I haven’t really decided yet. Most people tried this when Filtered first opened, thinking it would be a decent alternative to Starbucks. It’s not a replacement, and I haven’t seen any lemonades in sight as of late, which should tell you all you need to know. If you’re having a bad day, this can be a nice pick-me-up. It’s not just Starbucks. 

 

Iced Tea 4/5

I got strawberry iced tea. It tastes like iced tea, but the strawberry flavor tastes like gelatin. It’s nice and cold, refreshing even. Personally, the artificial taste it has sits weirdly in my stomach, though some people like it. When tried without any artificial flavoring it’s so much better. It just tastes like regular iced tea that you’d order from a restaurant. Though I’m not really an Iced-Tea person, so I don’t know how it actually ranks among the teas from more sophisticated places.

 

Coffee 3/5

It just tastes like motel coffee, not terrible and it gets you through the day. Many people think it’s too bitter, which is understandable. Personally I didn’t mind it that much. I defiantly liked it more than the hot chocolate, and it did feel good just to sip it through put the day. 

 

Nitro Cold Brew 5/5 

I found this delicious. By far the best drink in the cafeteria. It kept me alive during the math test I had that day. It was cold and refreshing. Usually, I don’t go for iced-coffee, but maybe I should because of how much I enjoyed this.

 

Ice Cream -1/5

On the menu it said there was a Hershey’s bar on the website. They do not have this, so don’t fall for it. I now go hungry.

Deli Subs 3/5

First, I have to give them props for the presentation. It comes in these cute deli bags, which was a big step up from the greasy paper plates and foam trays everything else comes on. It genuinely feels like something I would get from a deli.  They taste fresh, but okay. It reminded me of something they’d give you on a field trip in third grade. Honestly, the fact that they weren’t a crime on my taste buds is enough for me. It’s just an average deli sub.

 

Toasted subs 1/5

If you like soggy bread  or you’re a 17th century French peasant, this is the sandwich for you. I take that back, this would kill any 17th century peasant. Inside, it has cheese with tomato sauce smeared into the bread, a poor excuse for ham on top, garnished with pepperoni and an ungodly amount of grease. I understand toasted bread is cool, but you don’t need to pat yourself on the back for it by neglecting the rest of the sandwich. By the time I got it, it tasted vacuum-sealed and spongy, in a wet sponge sort of way. I don’t think I have ever actually seen someone eat this in person, and now I know why.

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