In college, the only thing better than a home-cooked meal is a pre-paid meal from the dining halls. Durrell Dining Center just opened last semester after a year of remodeling and the “new appeal” has worn off. Luckily, there is more appeal to Durrell than being brand new. Durrell is closer to the towers, Corbett and Parmelee than the dining center in Academic Village and has even more food options.
When you first walk in the building, there are rooms with glass walls on both sides and modern furniture around. Then, you walk upstairs and on the left is the actual dining part of the center.
One thing I really like about Durrell is the atmosphere. The whole building is brightly painted and decorated and it almost feels like an upscale restaurant. All of the food is in one area and there are booths and tables all around. It feels more like a restaurant than a cafeteria.
The tables are not as ginormous as the tables at the other dining halls, which can fit eight to ten people but usually only have two or three people sitting there at a time. A lot of the tables at Durrell are booths, but they are more restaurant style, some of them in coves of privacy while others are more open and welcoming.
As far as food options go in Durrell, they are pretty much all there. From the Braiden-style sandwiches to the pizza, Durrell has it all — except better.
I chose to try out what I initially assumed was the Mongolian grill. The dining hall in Academic Village has a Mongolian grill which looks similar to what is called the pasta station at Durrell. The Mongolian grill at AV is one of my favorites, or at least it was before I ate at the pasta station. The pasta station has a more sophisticated feel than the Mongolian grill. The vegetables at the pasta station were brightly colored, the way fresh vegetables should be. I went with spinach, red peppers and some garlic, which I scooped into a bowl myself. Then, you hand your bowl to one of the workers who adds in your choice of protein and noodles.
In addition to the usual choices of chicken and tofu, the pasta station offers some more exciting meats like pepperoni. You also have to choose your noodles. The night I went there were three or four choices for noodles, but I chose to go noodleless and make it more like a veggie stir-fry.
After adding the noodles and protein, the worker puts your food in a pan on a grill. Each bowl had its own pan and individual burner. There are different sauces to pick, too. I went with marinara sauce, but there was also pesto and meat sauce as some options that night. Instead of dumping the sauce on the food right away, the worker puts it near the pan to be mixed in later.
The cook rotated the pans on different burners, keeping a watchful eye to make sure no meal got too dry, and eventually added the sauce to pans as they cooked. My dish was hot and ready in about five minutes total. The dish was fresh and healthy, but lacking a bit in flavor. Maybe there wasn’t enough marinara sauce on my veggies or maybe it was my own fault for treating the station like a Mongolian grill, but I found myself in dire need of some salt.
After finishing my main course, I decided to try out some dessert. It is all-you-can-eat after all. After looking at the wide selection of desserts, I went with a brookie, combination brownie and cookie. It was delicious, enough said.
Overall, I would rate my experience at Durrell Dining Center as a positive one. It made you forget you were eating at the dining hall and had enough variety to satisfy any craving. If you like a meal that satisfies your cravings without making you feel guilty, try out the pasta station at the Durrell Dining Center.
Collegian Entertainment Assistant Editor Amber Johnson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.