The Daily Digestion: Putnam, the dining hall at the end of the universe

In this file photo, the Putnam Dining Hall is pictured. A trip to Putnam Dining Hall is sure to be an adventure. It’s about as far from campus center as Buckley, but while a trip to the Shippee-Buckley area makes for a scenic riverside promenade, heading to Putnam is an uphill trek. (File Photo/The Daily Campus)

A trip to Putnam Dining Hall is sure to be an adventure. It’s about as far from campus center as Buckley, but while a trip to the Shippee-Buckley area makes for a scenic riverside promenade, heading to Putnam is an uphill trek through an area that currently resembles a level of 1981’s “Donkey Kong.” This is a pity because the food is completely adequate.

Wednesday’s lunch at Putnam was Thanksgiving style: turkey, mashed potatoes, corns and green beans. The bird was satisfactory, a little dry but certainly filling. It’s the kind of meal you want to be greeted with at the end of an epic hike.

The mashed potatoes were admittedly watery and insubstantial. The diner can still feel a comforting warmness as it heads down their gullet, but that’s really about as great as the side dish gets. The vegetables were excellent; bringing a rounding and satisfying pop to the entire meal.

The Putnam atmosphere is different for a UConn dining hall, but endearing in a rustic way with high ceilings, open rafters and a lot of brick. You feel a curious tossup between a converted warehouse and an underground bunker.

It’s complicated further by the wide-open widow space around the perimeter. Big windows are great for reducing claustrophobia, but the outside view of giant blocky buildings and ongoing construction against (on this particular day) a white sky and barren trees conjures up the image of a Cold War research facility.

On another note, the Bloomin’ Onion Burger was fantastic! The crunchy fried onions and zesty sauce take it to a level above your average college patty. Highly satisfactory, Putnam. Highly satisfactory.

Putnam’s pizza is of a respectable quality. It’s a little thicker and breadier than the New Haven ideal, but it takes the poofy, crunchy dough and sells it with a savory-but-not-too-savory cheese and sauce combination.

Putnam is currently preparing for a semester of renovations, removing the Grab and Go to double the number of seats it provides. This will mean a lot of things, but first and foremost, it means that if you’re senior and have yet to make the cross-campus journey to Putnam, now is the time. If you don’t, you could miss on a mildly significant dining experience.

I’m eagerly anticipating the promised smoothie bar. See you in fall 2016, Putnam.


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