DDS: Open Minds, Upset Stomachs

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Our staffers had an interesting experience tasting DDS food the other day.

After a long Saturday afternoon of mimosas and NCAA basketball, Paul Allen, Luis Carruthers, and Timothy Bryce lurch into the Hopkins Center’s very own Courtyard Café. The line is unusually long, and as a result, the service is somewhat rushed. Paul Allen orders a steak quesadilla with buffalo sauce, ranch dressing, and spinach, along with a side of mozzarella sticks. Luis Carruthers orders a barbecue tender Bob Marley (a Bob with a hash brown inside) with onions and a side of green beans, but upon receiving his plate he is dismayed to find the onions have been left out of his dish. Timothy Bryce orders a double-meat Philly cheese steak sub with onions, peppers, and a side of mac and cheese. He proceeds to mix the mac in with the cheesesteak with his bare hands. No one in the entire Café seems to question this. The cheerful greetings of the legendary Souleymane at the cashier’s stand more than make up for Luis’ missing onions, and the three “bosses” cheerfully carry their food to the sitting area.

Carruthers notes the laid-back, casual atmosphere right away, and Bryce nods his head in approval. Allen points out the Hop would be the perfect place to “add some serious mass.” The phalanxes of DP2 sweatshirt-clad mesomorphs that march through suggest he is correct. Bryce appears particularly interested in the many small cliques of students that he has never seen before. Carruthers suggests he stop staring so directly, and concludes they must live in the East Wheelock cluster.

Allen is the first to delve into his amalgamation of fried greases, sauces, and cheese. A mixture of buffalo sauce and ranch dressing spurts all over his pants. He doesn’t bother to wipe them off, however. Instead, he groans and rolls his eyes back, slouching a little in his seat.

Buffalo Ranch Steak Quesadilla with Spinach: “In typical Hop fashion, I don’t know whether to eat it or drizzle it on my bike chain. That being said, this plate is nothing less than an ethereal mouth pleasure for any drunken college-aged male,” he says, concluding with a semi-slurred “8/10.”

Next, Carruthers picks up his Bob. Unfortunately, the frail tortilla cannot support the dense mixture of scrambled eggs, fried chicken, and hash brown, and partially collapses onto his plate. He scoops it back up and takes a bite.

Tender Bob Marley with Barbecue Sauce: “Ehrmagerd,” he mumbles, mouth full of barbecue sauce and eggs. After a bite of the beans, however, he winces and complains, “The bland flaccidity of these green beans belies their previously frozen nature. That being said, the Bob is a perfect conflagration of smoky, luscious barbecue flavor, wholesome eggs, and tender greasy protein. If properly rolled, this wrap could stand at a solid 7/10.”

Finally, Bryce grasps his sub with both hands, and forces it in the direction of his face. Cheese and grease run down his palms and chin, which he mops off with enough napkins to make Ralph Nader scream. He looks as if the behemoth requires a concerted effort to swallow, and then succeeds. Before he can speak, however, he takes a long pull from his fountain drink and swallows, breathing heavily. He looks exhausted from the ordeal.

Double Philly Cheese Steak with Peppers, Onions and Mac and Cheese: “I may have a heart attack… but at least I will die happy. This monstrosity is everything a man desires but should never be granted. This is the taste of original sin.” After a pause, he proclaims, “7.5/10!” then promptly stumbles to his feet and heads towards the Hanover Inn bathroom. The other two attempt to collect the heap of used napkins that has accumulated and follow.

The following day, the three gastronomically inclined adventurers head to Collis to continue their quest to divine Dartmouth’s best dining option. Walking in, the three navigate a flurry of straightened hair and Greek-lettered sorority sweatshirts, and eventually squeeze their way into various lines. Paul Allen notes, “No matter where you stand, you’re going to be in someone’s way,” as he is shouldered by an overzealous sorority girl bee-lining for a diet soda. Carruthers and Bryce brace themselves for similar fates.

After a bearable wait, Carruthers gets creative in the stir fry line, ordering two double chicken stir fries, one with teriyaki and hot, the other dressed with Thai peanut, teriyaki, and medium sauces. Bryce is less fortunate with the pasta line, which winds out into the hallway. After spending three minutes attempting to pry apart compostable pasta bowls below the salad bar, he fills the container with kale, peppers, onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, and broccoli. The presence of actual vegetables are a pleasant reminder that the three are not eating at the Hop or FoCo. He drops a single meatball on to the colorful medley and places his order: three scoops of white pasta with both alfredo and meat sauce.

Across the room, Allen snatches a hotly contested tuna roll from the sushi station. He is dubious of the authentic origins of the traditionally dressed sushi chef behind the counter, but concedes that he appears to know what he is doing. He makes contact with a few thrown ’bows in the smoothie line, and is forced into a game of twister with a mad frenzy of sweaty Lululemon headbands headed for the cookies and brownies after what could only be a field hockey workout. He finally succeeds in procuring a pineapple, mango, and strawberry smoothie with soft serve and guava juice.

After the exhausting ordeal of collecting their respective dishes, the three spot three free seats by the fireplace and sit down amidst a pervasive hum of “literally can’t even” and “like, worst prof ever.”

Double Chicken Hot Teriyaki on White Rice: Bryce attacks the stir fry, shoving the chicken and indistinguishable vegetables into his mouth. “How hot is it?” Carruthers integrates Bryce, “About as hot as the beginning of spring term.” Bryce retorts. “But who could complain with so much chicken and rice?” 6.5/10

Double Chicken Medium Thai Peanut and Teriyaki on White Rice: “Exotic is the only way to describe the combination of sauces, chicken, and oddly shaped vegetables in the eco-friendly compostable trough.” Even Allen cannot resist taking a bite, ignoring his peanut allergies. 7/10

Vegetable Medley Pasta with Alfredo, Meat Sauce, and Meatball: Carruthers jabs his fork at the bowl of pasta, making sure not to miss any of the diverse ingredients. “Even the New York Matinee would call this ‘a playful and mysterious little dish.’ Well beyond the artificial, cheap texture of the other mass-produced DDS dishes I have eaten, this symphony of flavors and colors transports me to a simpler time. A time when dusk meant home-cooked family gatherings, a time when gentle, motherly love didn’t suggest recent Prozac ingestion. Comfort food incarnate.” 8.5/10

Tuna Sushi Roll: The avocados green are, so that already sets it above Hop and Novack sushi, giving Allen a slight hope that he won’t have to interrupt his meal to rush to the bathroom. Allen assesses: “Though it is difficult to believe a real sushi chef would ever settle in the Upper Valley, this East Asian fish log is passable.” 6/10

Pineapple, Mango, and Strawberry Soft Serve Smoothie with Guava Juice: Allen takes a tentative sip, his pupils dilate, his shoulders slump, and starts to lightly sweat as he manages to mutter, “Jesus,” before returning to his blended drink with wild abandon. The frozen treat is so thick that he observes he can it with a fork. However, “in no way is that a bad thing.” Well worth the traumatic wait. 8/10

For the last meal the trio ventures to the library to sample the fare at the Novack Cafe. “Can I help who’s next?!” the employee screeches at Bryce. He orders a sesame seed bagel with cream cheese as the student behind the counter hurls the bagel his way. After scanning the menu, Allen decides his only option is the ham and cheese sandwich. Carruthers throws in the towel and asks for a hot pocket. The three make their way through the palpable air of misery and broken culinary (as well as academic) dreams. Surveying the stale bagel, the swampy ham sandwich, and the greasy, Orc-like hot pocket, the three simultaneously proclaim, “Screw it, we’re going to Murphy’s.”

On the windy walk across the green, the three reflect on their experience thus far. While the Hop may have been little more than greasy fried fare, it was a haven of deeply satisfying gluttony. Collis surely took the cake in terms of quality, but its absence of diversity in options and frenzied ordering process make it a venue for only occasional meals. The three don’t bother visiting FoCo, as they were confident the whole school remains well aware of its blatant mediocrity and eccentric yet lackluster selection. Finally, the three unanimously conclude that no one in their right mind should ever eat a meal at Novack. Ever.