Dana’s renovations offer new tastes but hassles
Dana has never been my favorite dining hall. The lines are always long, the sports teams have designated tables and the Freshman 15 threatens you as you choose from an array of greasy pizzas. None of these features have changed, but in spite of my qualms, I find myself suddenly wanting to eat there.
This summer, the College renovated Dana’s serving area, and the architectural redesign brought some improvements to the food selection as well. Now, when I browse dinner menus with my friends, we get excited to see what Dana’s offering. There is a lot of good that has come from the renovation, but there are many drawbacks as well.
First: the highlights. I’m a huge fan of condiments, and the six new bread spreads by the soup station don’t disappoint. In my opinion, pesto can complement any dish, but it’s nice to change it up with sundried tomato tapenade or roasted garlic spread, which go well with toast and pasta. The semi-regular spinach artichoke dip also makes my personal favorites list, and the staff switches it up by serving the dip with raw vegetables or some days and pita bread on others.
In the past, the sandwich bar has attracted the masses during the inevitable lunchtime rush, and it still does. Its current central position in the room, however, makes maneuvering around the crowd much easier, and the line can form without blocking essential areas like the old ice cream station. The dining hall staff also avoids tripping over each other because the area is much roomier.
Another bonus: the cookies. Colby’s cookies have always been good. I had never heard of pumpkin chip cookies before coming here, and now I can’t imagine a better way to end to a meal. I’m not sure what has changed, but I find myself reaching for the new peanut butter and M&M cookies far more than is normal…or healthy.
Despite these improvements, Dana has caused its fair share of frustrations when students began pouring through its doors. Having one soft drink machine at the biggest dining hall on campus was a poor decision. Ten-student-long lines snake into the seating area, and the machine is chronically out of ice. I’m surprised I haven’t run into similar issues with the lone milk dispenser. Hopefully a better beverage system is in the works.
Then there’s the location of the ice cream station. It makes sense, design-wise, that the two dessert areas mirror each other. Yet the ice cream tubs are now in a very public place, which deters me, at least, from choosing it for dessert. The ice cream containers are at an awkward angle in the deep freezer, and it’s just not an ideal situation for students wearing risqué skirts or dresses. Maybe ice cream will become a winter thing.
My last complaint is the silverware debacle. There are no longer two central locations where you can pick up your forks on your way to the table. Now it’s more of a scavenger hunt where you have to first spot the silverware canister and then hope it contains the utensil you need. Nothing is marked like in Dana’s olden days, and I end up touching the handles of quite a few knives and forks before finding the spoon.
The Dana staff is still working out the kinks, but the new setup has a lot of potential. A place where I can indulge in guacamole a few times a week and eat pudding out of a glass sundae cup is a place I want to be. Dana will never be my favorite dinner locale, but I’m excited to see what other improvements are to come.