A guide to avoiding on-campus food disasters

The MarchéThis pretentiously named dining facility often overreaches. Still, the food can be surprisingly delicious, or you can opt for pre-packaged goods.With lots of choices and a pay-per-item system, the Marché is not your typical dining facility. BEST: Vegan table. Having to come up with a variety of meals that don’t use meat, eggs or dairy seems like a daunting process, but those who staff the Vegan Table do so multiple times per day. With fresh ingredients, lots of vegetables and — on occasion — a really, really good salad dressing, the Vegan Table rarely goes wrong, even if you’re only an omnivore.WORST: Fried table. Everyone likes a good plate of fries now and then, but everyone would be better off going to Brennan’s. Behind the place where you take your mozzarella sticks, fries, onion rings and chicken fingers, you can see the vat of oil into which the frozen goods are dumped. Gross. None of these items are particularly good, either. Harris/MillisThe student-dubbed “grundle” (look it up on Urban Dictionary) is your typical all-you-can-eat dining facility, with pretty straightforward fare. The view from the giant windows is breathtaking. You won’t find anything special, but it’s not as sub-par as the name suggests.BEST: Grundle breakfast. For those of you who are getting an all-points meal plan, this is good value. At half the price of lunch and dinner during the week, grundle breakfast far surpasses any other meal. They consistently offer oatmeal, scrambled eggs, potatoes and some sort of red meat — sausage or bacon.Though the eggs may taste a bit like the powder kind, there are generally only positive things to say about the quality of the meal.Worst: Grundle pizza. It’s soggy and weird. Avoid. Enough said.Alice’s CaféAlice’s Café is a primarily a bagel and sandwich place, so I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the best thing Alice has to offer is…BEST: Bagels. They’ll toast them for you. They have lots of different kinds of bagels and some exotic cream cheese too, including cinnamon-honey and vegetable.WORST: Coffee. Every facility at UVM has coffee, but Alice’s is so prominently displayed that it bears commenting on. The coffee at UVM, though popular because of widespread caffeine addiction, is not tasty. The MarketplaceOffering some healthier choices than some of the other Davis Center options, the Marketplace has soups, salads and sandwiches, but they have some stuff as well, like vegetarian wraps and Indian food.BEST: Indian food. They usually offer some form of curried chicken, a vegetarian dish, rice, and bread. Though it’s no Indian restaurant, it is pretty good — and the naan deserves two thumbs up.WORST: Soup. The worst thing about the Marketplace soups are their inconsistancy. Every once in a while you’ll come across a terrible concoction, but otherwise, the soups are a good choice. New World Tortilla The only place on campus to find a burrito or a flat wrap everyday, New World Tortilla consistently has a longer line than most dining facilities.BEST: The delicious, well-priced flat wraps are the way to go. You can get any combination of beans, chicken or jalapenos and see them cook your tasty tortilla right before your eyes.WORST: Sometimes the bottom of the wrap get a bit soggy, and don’t order thinking you’ll receive classic Tex-Mex.The Waterman CaféThe Waterman Café is a points-only facility in the basement of Waterman. The atmosphere there is pretty nice. Undergraduates, grad students and professors all dine at Waterman. The options are limited because the space is small, but what they do have is generally superior.BEST: Yogurt parfait. Waterman owns the Yogurt Parfait, pairing fruit, yogurt and yummy granola. The blueberry yogurt is particularly tasty. A sharp contrast to the Marché’s half-frozen parfait disaster, which has an alternating white and purple color — as comical as it is frightening.WORST: Grilled Cheese. Waterman Café devotees might attack me for saying this, but their signature sandwich is mediocre. It’s overly buttery, and nothing good can stem from the fact that it ranges in color from white to dark brown. Still, some love it, and you can’t go too far wrong with grilled cheese.Cook CommonsThere are still those students who lament Cook’s switch from a points-only to a block dining hall. Some love it, some hate it, but it’s pretty much the usual.BEST: Lunch Wraps. Variety is key with Cook lunch wraps, which range from Chicken Caesar to Buffalo Chicken. These safe bets score big with Cook attendees.WORST: The Grill. Though this can be said of the Grundel, too, the Grill is pretty bad. The skinny little hamburgers and suspicious chicken patties are only for the ardently carnivorous and/or extremely brave.SimpsonSome contend that Simpson has fresher food or better cooks, but most find it to be like any buffet-style dining hall: mediocre. If you live on Redstone, this is probably where you’ll eat the most.BEST: Popcorn. Simpson distinguishes itself with a popcorn stand that produces typical salty, crunchy movie theater-esque popcorn. You no longer have to go downtown to experience your favorite buttery treat.WORST: Bread. The rolls and breadsticks served on the center table are consistently stale.Brennan’s Pub & BistroMost of the time, Brennan’s is a dimly lit and brightly painted hole in the Davis Center, but on weekend evenings the flat screen televisions and late hours make it a prime choice for energetic students. Also, Brennan’s serves beer and wine to those over 21.BEST: Sweet potato fries. This is the sole place on campus that you can get great sweet potato fries (not including the occasional times at the Marché) and they’re well above par. Thin and greasy in a good way, these excellent fries strike that difficult balance between sweet and salty. Too many might make you nauseous, but, to be honest, that’s a risk one always takes when one goes to Brennan’s.WORST: Quesadillas. These aren’t the worst option in the world if everything else is closed, but there’s no reason to pick a Brennan’s quesadilla over New World. Not enough cheese wrapped in seemingly deep-fried tortilla, the quesadillas are not so great plain. Add one of Brennan’s dubious sauces and you have a potentially stomach-turning meal.