Hanover dining stresses quality, not variety

by Ithan Peltan | 8/1/01 5:00am

There are two questions that nearly all members of the incoming Class of 2005 will likely ask themselves at some point during the first weeks of their freshman fall. The first question asked by multitudes of map-toting newbies is, "Which building is which in Dartmouth Row?"

The second, more important question: "Where do I eat at this place?"

On campus

Known universally as "DDS," Dartmouth Dining Services serves up a wide variety of (expensive) food at 11 locations scattered around campus.

While it's not exactly like home-cooking, it is better than the cous-cous and cheese freshmen will "enjoy" on their DOC Trips. In comparison to other colleges, in fact, DDS food is thought to be generally quite good, with options to satisfy everyone from vegans to carnivores.

A relatively unique feature of on-campus dining at Dartmouth is the a la carte system in place at all locations since the closing of the only buffet-style facility last fall. All students have a declining balance account, "DBA," from which the price of each meal is deducted. There are five different account options depending on how much one chooses to consume, but all freshmen are required to start off the Fall term with a standard DBA plan of $775.

And although the general offerings often sound similar from one venue to another, the Dartmouth student quickly learns that a Homeplate sandwich is very different from a Collis sandwich, and that neither is anything like a Food Court sandwich.

Food Court -- the most average of the various options -- is open the longest hours, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. daily, and offers the most seating, a combination that always ensures running into at least one acquaintance while standing in one line or another.

Although some might say Food Court is boringly predictable, others would phrase things in terms of comforting reliability, especially when you need a peanut butter and banana sandwich or an order of chicken nuggets to get you through a marathon study session.

Located in Thayer Dining Hall -- not to be confused with the Thayer School of Engineering -- Food Court offers pizza, made-to-order sandwiches, a grill, ice cream and frozen yogurt, a salad bar, and daily lunch, dinner and soup specials.

To cleanse your system of the chicken cheesesteak from the grill or the fish fry lunch special, try Homeplate, also located in Thayer.

Homeplate rightly has an image as the place to eat for the health conscious, although it sadly maintains only limited hours; it stops serving dinner at 7:30 p.m. and is closed on Friday evenings and on Saturdays.

With glacially slow service, Homeplate grill offers a number of freshly prepared meats and sandwiches as well as stir-fry. The weekly chicken panini special is worth the wait, though, and the Thursday noodle bowls are a filling option.

There is always a vegetarian option in the Homeplate hot line, as well as sandwiches made on fresh-baked bread and an impressive salad bar matched with an extremely unimpressive selection of salad dressings. Baked potatoes, low-fat pastries and frozen yogurt round out the offerings.

Collis Caf is also a campus favorite, especially on warm, sunny afternoons in the spring and fall when competition for the tables on and around the patio of the Collis Center is fierce.

Open weekdays from early morning through 8 p.m., Collis provides those crunchy souls concerned with the chemical makeup of their meals with a detailed list of all ingredients of their dishes.

Collis' smoothie bar is one of its highlights. Not only are the concoctions healthy and delicious, but it's entertaining to see fruit whirling around in a blender. A second smoothie bar will open for business in the Thayer Dining Hall lobby sometime this fall.

Stir fry, made with veggies, tofu, beef or chicken and topped with sauces ranging from peanut to wicked hot are extremely popular. Made-to-order omelets and sandwiches are also well-liked.

Soups of the day -- which have included strawberry rhubarb and guacamole -- are a delight to the adventurous and a mystery to the rest of us, as are some of the main dishes. Homemade baked goods and a very nice salad bar complete the Collis offerings.

Courtyard Caf in the Hopkins Center -- known almost exclusively as the "Hop" -- sells every variety of fried food that has ever been invented as well as some that haven't. It is open daily for all three meals.

The grill is the main feature of the facility, preparing sandwiches and the ever-popular "Hop fries." The staff works on the principle of leave it to the cashier: if they have the ingredients, they will make you whatever you order and leave it to the cashier to figure out the price.

Hop refrigerator cases are stocked with boxed salads, wrapped sandwiches and pasta salads. Two to three soups are generally available, and many swear by the clam chowder in the winter. A new submarine sandwich counter is planned for the fall.

Also scheduled to open during the first term of the Class of 2005 is a kosher and halal dining facility, located in Thayer and serving sandwiches as well as complete hot meals.

Upstairs in Thayer is Topside, Dartmouth's answer to a convenience store. There, one can use DBA to buy everything from soda to deodorant to bottles of spaghetti sauce.

Strangely, the bottled juice selection always seems to have sold out on Friday and Saturday evenings.

Also in the Collis Center, Lone Pine Tavern offers alcoholic beverages to customers over 21 and a selection of novelty sodas and ice cream drinks to those not of age in a restaurant setting.

The DDS waitstaff will serve anything from french fries to barbecued chicken and cheese stuffed into a roll -- generally within two hours of the time you are seated. Live music is often available to keep the hungry entertained.

Sharing a kitchen with Lone Pine is Midnight Express, where students can go for late-night snacks.

Celebrating its one year anniversary this fall is the Novack Caf in the brand-new Berry Library. Providing some very social study space, generally good coffee and a selection of other beverages, the caf area is crowded in the evenings.

Sandwiches and salads made in the Thayer kitchens and shipped over to Novack are also available, as are as pastries and soups.

North Caf and Byrne Hall -- located in the medical school and business/engineering schools, respectively -- provide tasty fare, but cater mainly to graduate students. Undergraduates are welcome, but generally do not take many meals at the facilities.

For those lucky East Wheelock residents, a snack bar is also open until 2:00 a.m. on weeknights to satisfy the hunger pangs of late-night studiers.

Off campus

When it's time for a night on the town -- or you simply can't look another Hop fry in the eye -- wander down Hanover's Main Street and check out the various options.

Murphy's on the Green, Molly's Balloon and Patrick Henry's all offer atmosphere and tasty American food at reasonable prices. All three offer a wide variety of fare and a friendly waitstaff.

The burgers at Murphy's and the pastas at Molly's are a good place to start your off-campus eating adventure. Molly's even provides crayons and paper tablecovers to keep hungry customers entertained while waiting for their food.

Sunday brunch at Lou's is a staple. Providing delicious breakfast all day for patrons seated in diner-style booths, it is no wonder that the line for a table often stretches out the door. The coffee and baked goods are not to be missed either.

All three Hanover pizza joints offer dorm delivery and grease with their orders. Everything But Anchovies -- which does in fact offer anchovies and is known as EBAs -- is open until 2 a.m. and, besides glistening pizza, offers a strange mix of sandwiches and salads. For a taste experience, combine the lumpia with an EBA's burger.

Ramunto's offers brick oven pizzas in addition to regular crust. Their garlic knots and the garlic knot pizza are legendary, but some students have reportedly had their mouths cited for air pollution after partaking. C&As also delivers tasty pizza and sandwiches.

Mai Thai, located on Main Street, is the only area option for Thai food. The noodle dishes are especially good, although the portions are somewhat small and the service can be slow when the restaurant is busy.

Panda House provides dine-in or delivery for those with a craving for Chinese food or sushi.

For Indian food, two options exist in Hanover, both of which deliver: India Queen and Jewel of India. Both are somewhat on the expensive side, but provide a nice change from Food Court pasta and are of strong quality.

A few Hanover restaurants offer the menus and atmosphere for unusually special (and expensive) occasions, with the prices to match. The Daniel Webster Room in the Hanover Inn is legendary and reservations should be made now for Class of 2005 graduation.

Zin's Wine Bistro, also in the Inn, and Caf Buon Gustaio located on Main Street provide upscale dining.

Located off Main Street across from EBAs, the Bagel Basement offers fresh-baked bagels, cream cheese and other spreads and bagel sandwiches.

Although now operating reduced hours to the dismay of many a caffeine addict, the Dirt Cowboy Caf provides some of the best coffee, pastries and other snacks in Hanover. It's hard to miss on Main Street directly across from the Green.

Rosey Jekes, tucked away behind the Hop, also provides a wide selection of coffees, teas and baked goods. Their paninis are rumored to have turned some students into regulars.