Though we all love being back on campus with our friends and fellow students, the one thing we all really care about is the food. Let’s be honest, it created quite a stir when it was announced last year that Northwestern was switching from its long-time partner Sodexo to Creative Dining. Sure, Sodexo had some problems and the food wasn’t always amazing, but what if Creative Dining turned out worse? Since it was the students’ vote that decided this switch, it was a risk we were willing to take.
So now that we’re a few weeks in, how are they doing? The number one comparison to make is the food quality. Almost everything, in my opinion, is better. To start, Creative Dining uses locally sourced vegetables and meat from farmers in the Sioux County area. I’ve noticed this specifically in the chicken strips, which show real meat rather than the fried and unidentified strips from last year.
Creative Dining is also committed to a healthy diet, which means real fruit in the DeWitt Cafeteria daily. It was a rare blue moon when Sodexo had fruit in the caf last year. Creative Dining doesn’t just do a great job with fruits, I’ve also noticed quite a few vegetables at the different stations each night. All of this is a great opportunity to eat healthy if we choose or to stuff ourselves with their weekend brunches.
Speaking of the weekend, can I get an amen for those breakfast potatoes? If Creative Dining knows anything, it is how to make those. I am not the only one going up for seconds or filling a whole plate regardless of the carbs. They are honestly addictive, so freshman, watch out for the freshman fifteen, because those potatoes will catch up to you. However, the weekend does seem to be missing a favorite staple from last year – the omelets. Before, there were always omelets on weekends, and we all know how long that line could get because so many of us loved them. Now, they are only on Sundays at brunch. Quite a few of us are bummed out about this change, but we will take what we can get.
One thing available this year are the Hub’s cheeseballs, DAILY! Last year was a dark and dreary time where cheeseballs could only be found after nine o’clock on Sundays. Creative Dining has saved us from this tragedy by having them on the menu no matter what time or day it is. Not only that, but I am greatly appreciative of the available smoothie flavors in both Common Grounds and the Hub. For the freshmen who are confused, Sodexo had one flavor a week for smoothies. Sometimes, they wouldn’t even change week to week. My favorite flavors of wild berry and mango are now much easier to acquire and taste fresh; so, if you need something to spend your flex on, I recommend the smoothies.
Since I’ve already talked a little about the food, let’s get down to the business side of Creative Dining. I don’t know if everyone knows or has downloaded their app, Eatable, but you should because it has already been super useful. Eatable shows both meals and flex, and soon students will be able to order the Hub from anywhere on campus through the app. This will be extremely helpful on my Tuesdays and Thursdays when I don’t have time to go wait in line and order lunch. I can potentially just pop over within ten minutes between classes to pick up my order. With any luck, this feature will be up and running soon.
For those of you like me who have an annoying friend called allergies, Creative Dining is doing better than Sodexo. Sodexo had a proclaimed allergy-free zone, yet often had international foods in this section that I and others couldn’t eat. Presently, there are small symbols in each line for each food on the menus above stations. Though helpful, they are completely vague. As someone only allergic to a few nuts and not all, I’m not always sure whether I can have a food or not. This is one update they could try to make in their coming years with us.
Overall, the best part about Creative Dining is their friendly staff. Some are old favorites from past years and others are new soon to be favorites who smile and ask how your day is. Already, Creative Dining is becoming part of the NW community.