On Monday, BlogDH had the opportunity to check out the new and improved Andrews Commons at a soft opening. We tasted food, played with drink dispensers, and generally ran around like kids in a Chuck-e-Cheese. At the beginning of the afternoon, Aaron Fitszenry, the saint of on-campus dining, warned us: “The food [here] is going to be unlike anything we’ve ever had on campus. Ever.” He most definitely lived up to his word — basically, Andrews Commons is the new holy land, and we are really excited about it. It’s truly a game-changer.
The Food: Antonio’s better watch out, because “AC” means business when it comes to pizza. We were able to try a pepper-jack cheese and chicken variety, as well as a BBQ Thai Chicken pie. The days of boring, single-topping pizzas leaving you hungry are in the past. These pies present you with an entire dinner laid out on a single slice. The chefs have truly stepped up their game with a stone hearth oven and premium ingredients including locally milled flour, organic produce, and cheese blends that we only thought existed in our sans-meal plan dreams. The new oven is also really fun to look at, because, well…FIRE! Pizza slices are topped with fresh and occasionally-unexpected ingredients like arugula and carrot shavings. Just recounting this experience is making us hungry for another slice.
Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to stick around and try the various stir-fries, the other Andrews Commons specialty. We observed as all of the chefs took an interactive lesson on technique and cooking style using the new state-of-the-art equipment. They were specifically briefed on how to prepare the food so that it is always fresh, served hot and quickly, and accommodating to the ebb and flow of students. By the end of their session, they really should have received course credit for a stir-fry seminar. It’s clear that BUDS is working extremely hard to make Andrews Commons the best it can be, and over 100 students will ultimately work in this new eatery along with multiple professionally trained chefs. Watching the cooks put so much care and time into the food was a wonderful combination of heartwarming and mouthwatering. Needless to say, everyone at Brown owes them a huge thank you.
The Dranks: Okay, so AC doesn’t actually sell alcohol, but it has taken the game of mixers to a whole new level. When Aaron Fitzsenry tweeted about the Vitamin Water tap, we were pumped. Now that we’ve seen the place, we know that Vitamin Water is just the tip of the iceberg. Mainly, there is an awesome drink-dispensing machine with a touch screen and approximately one trillion options. (No, we’re not exaggerating) One of our fellow tasters said that it looked like something from the “Star Trek Enterprise.” You will never have to suffer from a boring chaser again. Craving raspberry-lime-vanilla-cherry-Ginger Ale? Gross, but you’ve got it.
The dining area itself is well lit and very spacious. The seating is comfortable and varied, and there’s carpeting! But Andrews Commons has even more to offer than just fantastic food: The study space (a.k.a. chairs on chairs on chairs). Like the Leung Gallery on steroids, there is a large, open room above the entire dining area in which students are free to work. It has around five different types of chairs (all of which we tested out) that are extremely comfortable but also offer great lumbar support. The numerous tables are all equipped with pop up outlets, which include USB designated plug-ins for charging your smartphone! Freedom at last! And what are those bars hanging over the table you may ask? No, not weapons for study-inflicted frustration, but actually sleek, individual lighting units. Andrews Commons is also complete with a private study room, a classroom whose walls are entirely comprised of dry-erase boards, and gender-neutral bathrooms.
It’s hard to believe that last year this space was just the dinky cousin to the Kasper Multipurpose Room, housing wild parties, midnight breakfasts, and impromptu soccer games. Andrews Commons will be open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., and if you thought it couldn’t get any better, just wait: they accept meal credits all. day. long.
Everything about Andrews Commons is amazing and we hope that you all enjoy exploring it as much as we did. One thing will be clear when it opens on Wednesday: we are not in the Gate anymore.
Images via Emily Gilbert ’14.