The Food Sucks, But What Do You Expect?
By Mari Chopp
When you go to college, it is known that whatever university you go to, the food will not be as good as what you eat at home. Western Washington University in Bellingham is no exception. At Western, there are three possible dining halls you can choose from: the Viking Commons, Fairhaven, and the Ridge. The Viking Commons is the largest dining hall and is on North Campus, the Fairhaven dining hall is in the woods by the Arboretum, and the Ridge dining hall is on South campus. I have eaten at all of them and from my experience I think the Ridge is the place to go. People will argue that Fairhaven is the best because you can serve yourself whatever you want or that the Viking Commons has better options; however, for me eating isn’t just about the food, it’s about the whole eating experience. And for that reason the Ridge has all the other dining halls beat.
The Ridge dining hall is in the middle of the whole Ridgeway community. The architecture matches the rest of the Ridgeway dorms. The stairs leading into the eating commons have the same railing seen around the Ridge and the building itself has wood accents. The building is also attached to a gym for the varsity athletes.
When you go inside, you’ll notice a vibe. All the dining halls have one, but the Ridge has more of a unique essence. This essence has a lot to do with the eating area itself. It is not the largest place to eat but it still supplies a lot of room. There are two areas to sit, the left and the right. The left side is always mellow because normally not a lot of people sit over there, not to mention its darker over there. If you like quite, intimate places, you will enjoy eating there. The right side is the complete opposite. The right is always bustling with groups of people and you can hear snippets of conversation constantly. Whatever side you choose, there is a strong sense of community. You can even see better glimpses of this when there is a Seahawks game going on. The right side has a large flat screen TV and some couches, which is perfect when people want to sit, eat, and root on their team. The eating area at the Ridge is more centered around the idea that the Ridge is a mini society and encourages people to be social. This is unlike the other dining halls; at the Viking Commons, many of the people who eat there are all different ages and you will notice more people eating alone, and as for Fairhaven, the eating area is even smaller than the Ridge and is cramped.
The Alright Food
Eating itself at the Ridge is a hit or miss although let’s be real, what do you expect? You have a few options to choose from, just like the other dining halls on campus; pizza, sandwiches, the chosen meal of the day, hamburgers, and salad. Even though every dining hall has pizza, the pizza on the Ridge is the best. A student who eats regularly at the Ridge said, “The pizza at the Ridge is the best pizza out of all the dining halls because of the fact that there is a perfect ratio of sauce to cheese and the crust is always crispy on the outside, but doughy on the inside.” However, there are a few known dining hall workers that are known to make mediocre pizza, on these days the pizza does not live up to its standards. When this happens, the pizza lacks character and the perfect crisp to dough ratio. As a college student, bad pizza at the dining hall can ruin your day. A few other things that bring joy to the students at the Ridge are that at the sandwich station, there is pesto mayo (which I highly recommend you try because it isn’t at the other dining halls), the breakfast is always bomb on the weekends, there is a variety of desert options, and every once in awhile there is a day where local food producers supply the food. Besides the food itself though, the lines for the food are relatively short. You will not have to fight off hordes of hungry, sleep deprived students to get food. At the Ridge, the lines are modest and only get a little crazy when there is a really good meal being served.
The Ridge is also the best place to people watch. Not only are there corners that allow no one to watch you from behind as you scan the crowds, there is music going on that sets the mood. The pool of people you see will not be very large, but everyone is very engaged since the community there is smaller. There is more activity from the people you will be sitting around. You will see a hodgepodge mix of people which makes it more interesting. There are a lot of people wearing Birkenstock sandals, and “hipster” clothing. You might even be able to spot someone in a robe or pajama pants. If you like to people watch, I do recommend that you eat on the right side or your experience will be sub par. And the best time to go is at dinner or at late night because those are the main meals; you won’t see as many people at breakfast because no one wants to wake up and at lunch time many people are eating at the Viking Commons because it is close to their classes.
The Ridge does have its flaws, and these flaws do mainly deal with the food. A lot of things get broken easily, such as the drink dispensers and the popular ice cream machine. And at breakfast, the omelets are not worth the wait; they are sloppily made and do not compare with the rest of breakfast which is one of the better meals made at the dining hall. Also, the layout of the serve yourself sections were poorly thought out. There is a Plexiglas cover over the food that makes it awkward to stretch your arm under to reach to get the food. It limits you to get satisfactory portions of what you want especially when your arms are short. And not to mention the Ridge’s selection of cereal has gone down hill. People at the Ridge eat a lot of cereal and because of this it has been noted that the brands of cereal have been downgraded to “generic” and favorites such as Captain Crunch have been taken out of the picture. Small things like this are game changers in the eyes of college kids.
If for some reason you ever visit Western Washington University, and you have a strong desire to try the eating experience of a college student, go to the Ridge. You won’t be getting a five star meal, but you will be able to eat in a place that has ambience, atmosphere, and community. And in a way, that is kind of priceless.