Northwest Marketplace is a solid contender for UConn’s top dining hall. If Buckley is your loving, yet slightly smothering grandmother, Whitney is your bohemian friend from English class. If Putnam is your weird uncle who lives in Utah, then Northwest is that old friend who you might not see very often but can always bail you out of a compromising situation and then wax nostalgic about the good ole days.
The first thing to hit you upon entrance is the egregious bunch of lines. I’ll take multiple visits to Northwest without even bothering to wait out the semester and a half for the comfort food line.
But you can’t blame Northwest for being too satisfying and too popular. And even if you are an impatient child of a diner like I am, Northwest will treat you right. The essentially lineless staples and alternatives are where the dining hall truly shines.
Their pasta and salad bars are on point. The Bourbon Street shrimp and pasta will put South to shame, and the salad selections can go toe-to-toe with even vegan-focused Whitney.
If you can survive the line however, you’ll be duly rewarded for running the patience gauntlet. Wednesday’s lunch was grilled orange ginger chicken—Michelangelo’s the “David” of poultry protein at UConn.
While North’s grilled chicken is reliable in its dry and rugged way, Northwest’s ginger glaze provides a sweet and savory promise that any pockets of arid, scaly resistance will be moistened and cooled to perfection. When grilled orange ginger chicken is available, eat the grilled orange ginger chicken. Kudos, Northwest. Kudos.
The jasmine rice was a solid, functioning side ready to provide a fluffy down comforter for your entrée. It’s flavorless in its adaptable and inoffensive way, much like an elderly lecturer.
The garlic green beans start off sweet and then amp up with a moderate zest. It’s what vegetables should always taste like.
And the seafood stir fry—delightful! Northwest works some sort of stir fry or grilled wonder at every meal, and the chef will cook in front of you for the only hibachi experience on campus. The seafood medley itself includes baby corn and peppers perfectly harmonized with scallions and shrimp.
The standard fare at Northwest - the meals available every day - aren’t champions but are strong contenders. The pizza isn’t quite as stylishly thin crust as McMahon’s, the grilled cheese isn’t as crisp as at South or the tofu adventures as believable as Whitney’s. But each is a strong second in their category. That’s the reliability of Northwest.
Similarly, the Northwest solarium might not have the view South solarium’s brochure-picturesque grassy quad does but it boasts huge windows and sleek, pleasing architecture.
Plus walnut brownies for those starved by the barren nut environment of North, coming from a place of nut-tolerant privilege.
The beauties of Northwest are the simplicity and consistency, as well as the modern design and that dope still from “Rick and Morty” that’s been on that one particular napkin dispenser for at least a month now. I noticed, Northwest. I appreciated it.
Christopher McDermott is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.