Lifestyle

OPINION: What’s new is old again at the cafeteria

The epitome of student cafeteria life.

It’s back and…the same as ever? After a long hiatus, the cafeteria returned to Hunter on Nov 28, just in time for the end of the semester, and just in time for me to give the food a review.

The cafeteria is now called (drum roll) The Hungry Hawk Cafe, but that seems to be the only difference. For the most part, the food is the same. The $3.59 curly fries, the $5.49 hamburger (before cheese), the $6 to $13 sushi options (historically the most widely enjoyed cafeteria food items) have all retuned. The workers, who seem far more grateful for the cafeteria than the student body, are also largely the same.

I have always enjoyed talking with the staff and am happy to see most of them have returned. They were just as confused about the whole ordeal as students. “I don’t even know anymore,” said one worker when asked who his new employer is.

Next to the sushi, the lunch special is the best thing there, if you consider the deal and quantity of food. Or, it was at least under the last owners. The special does not come with a drink anymore, leading to the question: is a lunch special without a drink really a lunch special? Or just lunch? For my first visit, I purchased a slice of pizza to sample (for north of $3), as well as some curly fries and the lunch special (Brussels sprouts, chicken wings and some pasta, which comes out to about $8).

The special was a little greasy that first shot, a day after they opened. The pasta was oily, as was the chicken. The sprouts were good, but you never want the best part of your meal to be vegetables. When I went back a couple of weeks later there was much improvement. The rice was good, the green beans were very solid, and the pasta was gooey and cheesy—with the right amount of seasoning.

The pizza is something to keep an eye on. Even during the first visit, it was better than the offerings at the last cafeteria iteration: still very salty, and still gone in five bites. Remember, pizza is not a real Italian food.

It seems the cafeteria is continuing to play with their pizza recipe. During my second visit, one of the cooks came up to me and asked me to try a sample from two different slices—one thick crust, and the other thin. Even from a one-square-inch bite, there was a lot of improvement in the thin crust slice. It was on par with a mid-level New York dollar slice. It is still important to remember that cafeteria pizza will never be a dollar, but at least the taste is getting there, and improvements are being made.

Other students seemed non-plussed for the most part.

An unimpressed Mary Yanez.

“I’ve never had any expectations of the cafeteria before, so I’ve never been disappointed,” said Mary Yanez, a senior. “I was somehow disappointed when I ate here today.”

Joseph Rivera said his curly fries were cold and a little soggy, though mine were the opposite (and quite well seasoned). “I’m gonna give them time, and look for them again,” he said.

Rivera did give a positive review of the chicken tenders.

The cafeteria has never been great, but it is good to have it back as a quick option between classes. Clearly, the staff needed some time to settle back in, as there has been a marked improvement from when I went right after they opened, to my second trip a couple of weeks later. I’d vote to get the drinks back as part of the lunch special.

With the return of the cafeteria, the school can return to its natural order, and complaints in the Hunter student Facebook group can shift back into focus. Soon, we will forget that the cafeteria was ever gone or that it has a silly name now, and return to complaining about the food that we keep eating because nobody wants to walk a few blocks to the great deli on 68th and First.

 

*Editor’s note* the name of the cafeteria was mistakenly printed as “The Hawk’s Nest.”

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