Let’s be honest – the thoughts that run through a college student’s mind often fall into a pretty specific set of categories. They may vary in content and percentage depending on the person, of course, but you can almost guarantee that they include the following: homework, romance, various forms of inebriation, and of course, food.
Brown University Dining Services therefore has ambitious tasks to accomplish in feeding Brown’s hungry students. Aaron Fitzsenry, culinary manager of retail dining and one of our favorite food authorities on campus, sat down with me to discuss some of the exciting culinary ch-ch-ch-changes taking place across campus this year.
The Blue Room will soon be introducing a Mediterranean Bar a few nights a week. Fitzsenry dreamed up this idea this summer while he was strolling down Thayer Street looking for inspiration in the existing business models. Featuring fresh and local ingredients such as hummus, tabbouleh, chickpea salad, fresh Narragansett feta, and Sam’s Bakery Syrian wraps, the Mediterranean Bar will be joining the ranks of student favorites Kabob and Curry and the Naked Burrito Bar. As the Herald reported, the Blue Room will also be serving savory pastries of the leek-and-parmesan and cherry-Greek-yogurt varieties. And don’t worry – those muffins and cookies you dream about will continue to be baked fresh daily. Rotating soup and meal specials can be found on the Blue Room’s website, in addition to any and all ingredient information about which you may be curious.
Across campus in Josiah’s, Little Jo’s will be expanding its inventory. During the warm summer season, Aaron told me about new drink options that were tried out – including a frozen fruit slushy. Sure, fall may be swiftly approaching, but surely it’s never too cold for something fruity and refreshing. The “Three Burners” station in Jo’s will continue going strong, rotating specials every two weeks. You should expect familiar dishes like Stuffed French Toast, Breakfast for Dinner, as well as tasty lemongrass chicken, teriyaki, and pork and chive dumplings that have been “steamed on a bed of aromatics.”
New adjustments are also being made to The Ivy Room, the haven for all Brown vegetarians. That infamously long line for mac and cheese you love to hate? Well, it will be notably cut shorter this year by the substitution of a pre-prepared, baked version of your favorite cheesy dish. Replacing the mac and cheese station is a new custom veggie burger bar, offering Jens and Marie vegan, wheat-free patties and toppings like fresh vegetables, onion rings, or even a fried egg.
Andrews Commons, Brown’s newest dining venue, will see the most changes this semester. According to Fitzsenry, last semester we only saw the beginning phases of this eatery’s potential. Pho noodle soup will continue to be offered every afternoon, as well as stone hearth pizza. Going beyond their existing “Upside Down Margherita” or “Niman Ranch Bacon Cheeseburger” flavors, expect to find other innovative pizza offerings like “Chicken and Waffles.” Yes, we said Chicken and Waffles pizza, you’re not dreaming. The wok station in AC will be adding dishes to its Asian dinnertime offerings, and a new custom specialty sandwich station (think Banh Mis and Thai BBQ Chicken) is in the works. Oh, and save room for new “Bruno Bites,” homemade pastry bites, to satisfy your sweet tooth.
These campus-dining spots allow Aaron and his staff to have fun and to experiment with the artistry of cooking. “You guys are my guinea pigs!” he says enthusiastically. Stay tuned for more spur-of-the-moment specials and food events, too. Have any critiques, suggestions, praises you’d like to share? Aaron Fitzsenry and everyone at BuDS want to hear from you! Their goals are to make us happy, keep our stomachs guessing, and keep us chowing down.