Before people get mad, let me just say that I’m extremely grateful to have access to Cornell’s diverse dining options. Some of my friends back home only have one dining hall, so we are lucky to have six on West Campus, alone. Also, I have worked with Cornell Dining before, and the passion, labor, and patience put into running a dining hall is absolutely incredible, so we should all be appreciative of what we have! That said, I just wanted an outlet to express my opinion on Cornell’s food (specifically West Campus in this article). This is not to offend Cornell Dining in any way!
You’d think that living on West would be like food heaven: You’ve got 6 dining halls to choose from, can pop in anytime to pick up a snack, and can even eat at multiple dining halls if you’re adventurous. But alas, prospective residents. Here is the truth: You are forced into paying for unlimited meal plan which you don’t even get to take advantage of since during the day you’ll likely be on central campus. No dining halls are open between 2-4:30 PM. And to top it off, you only get $400 BRBs to last the whole semester’s lunch and snacks.
How I felt getting a room on West Campus:
How I feel now:
This is a true story. Paying $2,962 just to use 5 swipes a week only to eventually charge another $100 in BRBs at the end of the semester is painful.
Anyway, here are some observations I’ve made about West Campus food — good and bad:
- No salad bar is alike. Some are sad (Becker). Some are amazing (looking at you, Bethe).
- There is no lack of meat in ANY of the dining halls. The most common is pork or chicken.
- Rose has really good chicken wings!
- Fish is served more often than I thought, and it’s always white fish.
- Becker has tiramisu and crème brûlée on Thursday nights. (Gotta love Italian night! Beware, it’s very crowded in there.)
- Keeton has a large variety of desserts, a waffle station, and lots of toppings (even oreo cookie crumbles and chocolate sauce).
- One of the Keeton chefs, Gene, makes most of his food from scratch. Plus, his fried chicken is AMAZING.
- I have yet to see the popular North Campus “vegan chocolate cake” anywhere on West.
- For all you vegan, keto, or lactose intolerant folks, all of the dining halls have non-dairy milk (at least soy). If you are allergic to soy like me, Rose usually has almond milk and Bethe has rice milk. Their milk selection is subject to change, but I personally wish there was more almond milk.
- This detail is not important at all, but for anyone concerned about sugar, the non-dairy milks are usually sweetened.
- Becker has jasmine tea!!
- Fun, probably obvious trick: you can make iced coffee at dining halls but make sure you don’t put the hot coffee directly in the glass or it may break.
- I can’t speak for everyone, but I have been continually impressed by Rose House Dinners.
- Bethe ice cream is soft and melty.
- Bananas at the dining halls are very inconsistent.
- Keeton has granola and it’s bomb. (One of which is blueberry flax!)
- Becker house ALWAYS says they have “miso shiitake brown rice udon noodle bowls” for breakfast some days, and I have YET to find it.
- Oatmeal is complete mush.
- Cook House seems to elicit incredibly polarizing opinions.
- Regardless, Cook is open the latest – until 9 PM.
- 104West! has great mac and cheese on Wednesdays.
- Bethe has bagels for breakfast on Fridays, along with avocado spread and flavored cream cheeses. (Factor in their variety of spices and y’all can make the perfect avocado toast!)
- Sunday nights at Rose House are extremely crowded (probably because they have curry and smoothies).
- Jansen’s closes its hot food station at 12:45 AM even though Jansen’s closes at 1 AM.
- Jansen’s has boba. And it apparently sucks.
- The dining halls that are open for lunch (Bethe and Becker) have the same menus every week.
- Bethe has good grilled cheeses. They also occasionally have homemade potato chips!!
- Don’t underestimate the power of the green goddess dressing.
- The soups on West are either amazing or too salty. I still try them anyway!
- Most vegetables are cooked in olive or canola oil, surprisingly.
- Becker has the most pie and the least amount of fruit.
- Almost all the mac and cheese I’ve had at any of the dining halls exceeded my expectations.
- Some things that are labeled “vegan” clearly have milk/cream in them, so be cautious!
- **Bonus: the “Sweet Sensations” cookies you can buy around campus — such as the jumbo chocolate chunk, sugar, peanut butter cookies — are around 400-500 calories each. (This depresses me daily.)
- ***Extra bonus: I’m sure staff from the other dining halls are just as friendly, but I know from personal experience that Keeton staff are kind, accommodating, and very compassionate toward diners. In general, if you reciprocate kindness, all dining staff will go above and beyond for your diet-related needs.
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