When it comes to food, some say that “Williams’ resident overachievers are pampered” (Fiske Guide to Colleges 2002). With a variety of different dining halls to choose from, we set out to test this claim and find out exactly what’s unique about each one.
Navigating all five culinary institutions was a difficult and arduous trek. Each has its own system for tray drop-off and excess food disposal, distinct character and gastronomic specialties. We burned off our “freshman 15” by hiking down the hill to Mission (and back up again); we got lost in Greylock’s confusing maze of lines for deli fare, hot food, salad bar and condiments; we tried in vain to find a place to sit in Baxter that was not already occupied by entire entries from Williams and Sage Halls; on our way into the boonies, we stopped at Driscoll to eat with people exclusively from the Odd Quad; we joined an entire campus of connoisseurs at Dodd’s famous Thai Night, and ended up sitting on the roof for lack of better seating. Keep in mind that the following opinions do not reflect those of the entire student body; our research consisted solely of sampling the food.
Baxter was built in the early ’50s, when the College was trying to encourage first-year bonding in the face of fraternity pledging. Given its convenient proximity to the Frosh Quad (it’s not much of a hike from Morgan or Lehman either), Baxter is the place to be for first-years during their first few weeks here. They can go there and know that they’ll find someone familiar to eat with. Baxter is the biggest dining hall on campus, but some drawbacks are the slightly institutional dÃ©cor and less variety in food choice. Monday through Friday, it offers pasta and sauces and, like Mission, will feed you before 11:30 a.m. (but who eats breakfast, anyway?).
Greylock offers expansive views of the Greylock Quad through its picture windows. Greylock is a special place: it’s open until 2 p.m. for lunch and 7:45 p.m. for dinner on weekdays, which is useful for those of us who like to eat continental style. Greylock also offers pasta and sauces on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and hosts its famous “Brunch Night” on Tuesday and Thursday, with bagels, waffles and omelets made to order. Its deli lunch comes with a considerable array of sandwich fixings, from pesto to hummus to goat cheese and mango chutney.
As the former Williams Inn, Dodd dining hall looks like the restaurant it once was. In keeping with its origins, Dodd has a char-broiler and wok-station, and sometimes you can watch your meal cooked to order. Dodd is closed for breakfast and all day on Friday and Saturday. These inconveniences are offset by its deli lunch and international dinners. Sometimes the menu doesn’t conform to its publicized nationality (did anyone else wonder why “Cuban Night” included Irish soda bread, Spanish rice and Bavarian apple tart?), but it’s still quality food. If you get hungry in the afternoons Monday through Thursday, Dodd’s the place to go from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., since it’s the only dining hall to offer continental lunch.
Driscoll’s curvy architectural style is only one of the many quirks which spark a loyalty for this dining hall among those living in the Odd Quad. Its size creates an ambience that is a cross between Baxter and Dodd, and while you can be sure to run into those whom you do and don’t want to see, it is surprising how possible it is to maintain a certain anonymity there.
Among its best features are the stocked and varied salad bar, the waffle machines, the do-it-yourself panini station for lunch and orange chicken, supplied by Chopsticks restaurant, with sticky rice on Wednesdays. Driscoll is closed for breakfast, but it remains the dining hall of choice for Odd Quad residents and the crew team, for whom it remains open late after practice.
The location of this recently renovated dining hall in the riot-proof building that is the home to most of the sophomore class makes it the place to be for those who live there but quite a trek for the rest of us. “Mission pizza” is the main attraction, although a bit over-hyped, but there is a large variety of food to choose from. Peak dining hours should be avoided, as the entrance line may reach up the stairs and around the corner, and also because food shortages have been experienced lately. Open until 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, it also offers the possibility of a later dinner, but be warned that at this time there will be a large pile of sports bags, gear and other items stacked at the entrance due to the exodus of athletes from the playing fields to this dining hall.
Through exhaustive investigations, we concluded that there really isn’t much of a difference between the dining halls when it comes to food quality. Other than the occasional specialties offered, the food doesn’t merit hiking ten miles out of your way if you can just eat closer to home with your friends.