The Pavilion opens to favorable reviews
As hundreds of students bustled in and out of Food Court last night, Marianne Karplus '04 sat with two friends in a quiet corner of The Pavilion, Dartmouth's newest dining facility, serving kosher and halal meals in the former Westside area behind Food Court.
With only six students sitting in the dining area and no long lines during the regular dinner rush, DDS employee Anna-Marie Hammond suggested that The Pavilion "will get busy once people realize it's for everyone" and not just Jewish or Muslim students.
"People that we have gotten here really like it," she said, adding that much of the food is similar to that served at Homeplate. The main difference is the manner in which food is prepared to meet dietary restrictions.
As she dined on vegetable and lentil stew, Karplus explained that although she does not follow kosher or halal dietary restrictions, she was attracted by the wealth of vegetarian options offered at The Pavilion and has been a regular there since it opened at the end of Fall term.
Melanie Chiu '04 carted in a salad from Food Court before joining her friend Karplus but was nonetheless impressed with the Pavilion's healthful options. For vegetarians, she noted, "there's only so much pasta you can eat," and, to her, The Pavilion seems to offer a wider range of vegetarian options than other campus facilities.
Graduate student David Rudel had been worried that the kosher and halal facility would be merely another vegetarian-heavy dining hall like Homeplate, but he was pleasantly surprised by what he deemed "quality meat-based foods."
"The food here just looks better" than in Food Court, Rudel said.
A few tables over, Meg Ahern '02 was also sampling the vegetable and lentil stew. Although not vegetarian and not following any special dietary restrictions, Ahern explained she simply enjoys the menu at the new dining hall.
"I like getting to eat healthy food, but I just have to get my milk from Food Court," Ahern commented.
"And ice cream," Rich MacDonald '02 joked from across the table.
Due to kosher dietary restrictions, meat and dairy products cannot be stored, prepared or served together, and thus on days in which The Pavilion serves meat -- such as last night -- it cannot serve any dairy products.
Another Pavilion diner, Anna MacDonald '02, commented that eating at The Pavilion was an educational experience, as she learned how Jewish and Muslim dietary restrictions work.
Although she had been initially hesitant to try the new facility -- thinking it was designed only for those students following special dietary restrictions -- after seeing last night's dinner menu MacDonald now plans on frequenting the new dining hall.
Despite the small turnout last night, kosher kitchen manager Robert Lester predicts that once word of mouth spreads news of the new facility, up to 150 students will dine at The Pavilion during any given meal.
Lester explained that the impetus for the kosher and halal dining hall came from students themselves.
Nearly four years ago, a survey of the entire community revealed that 350 Jewish community members were interested in having a kosher dining hall on campus, and 75-100 Muslim community members wanted a halal facility, Lester said.
Two weeks before the facility was slated to open, a campus survey further revealed that 250 strict vegetarians were interested in a dining hall that met their needs, prompting the facility to offer Sakahara meals as well, which satisfy the requirements of Hindus and other vegetarians.
Although Dartmouth is the last Ivy League school to add a kosher kitchen to its dining facilities, Lester noted that Dartmouth is unique in creating a dining facility to meet kosher and halal restrictions, as well as the needs of strict vegetarians.
The kosher kitchen also marks the first of its kind in New Hampshire.
A grand opening to showcase the facility -- featuring a tour of the facility and dedication speeches by President Wright, Dining Services Director Tucker Rossiter, Rabbi Edward Boraz and Muslim student advisor Amin Plaisted -- is scheduled for next Tuesday.