Dear Buckley: Thanks for being the comforting grandmother of dining halls

In this photo,  the entrance to UConn's Buckey Residence Hall is pictured. (File Photo/The Daily Campus)

It’d be easy to knock Buckley Dining Hall as a junior version of South Campus Marketplace. You get the same recurring themes of heavy, homey meals and a similar retirement aesthetic. Everything seems to be slow-cooked food that you could eat even if you forgot your dentures.

But that fails to fully capture the brilliant simplicity of Buckley.

Buckley was my freshman year dining hall and I have mixed feelings about it.
 
Two years ago the dining hall had long periods when the dishwashers weren’t working so we’d eat off paper and plastic plates. But there were sparks of light even in the darkest times, mostly in the form of weird harvest festivals, snack tents, brunch time lox and truly excellent Sunday night sundae bars.

I take Buckley to be the classic college dining hall. It’s small, the food isn’t generally as tasty or outwardly classy as what you could get at McMahon during orientation, but it’s charming and it does what it came here to do.

A fun little quirk about Buckley is the occasional burst of song from the corner table, which I take to be occupied by students from the Drama-Music Building across the street and the Fine Arts Learning Community next door in Shippee Hall.

I hadn’t eaten there for a while when I made my return to write the review. I was happy to find myself treated with the Buckliest meal possible, and it was on point.

The slow cooked barbecue beef brisket combines all of the essentials of Buckley (slow cooking, salt, savor and just slightly heavy-handed condiments) in a way that makes the whole far better than a simple sum of its ingredients. It’s thick and substantial but not too chewy, and it’s not a smothering tiring experience to eat your way through. It’s truly a triumph of college cooking; a lofty but realistic goal to aspire to.

The buffalo mac n’ chicken is a delightful oddity. The creamy sauce pervading the pasta didn’t really taste like cheese but instead was some kind of new wonderful salt buffalo mush concoction. Very good. Very homey. Very much something an eccentric grandmother would put together when she’s bored.


The fried okra is worked into popper snacks. They’re a great way to take a relatively healthy food and make it much more tasty and much more sodium-rich. They’re superior to French fries when you want some crunch and substance, and they’re superior to jalapeño poppers when you want something less spicy and slimy.

Buckley loves in the same way that it cooks: slow, steady, and comfortably. You can even forget about it for a little, but it’ll always be there for you.


Christopher McDermott is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at christopher.mcdermott@uconn.edu.