To pronounce the “Marquis” in Marquis Hall in anything like the French way (marquis, silent “s,” connoting nobility) is to mark oneself out as an outsider on campus. Markwiss, they say here, and it’s a good thing too, since no one should mistake the food in the Garry Room, which serves the nearby residences of Saskatchewan and Qu’Appelle halls, with anything of noble or superior taste. “It’s prison food,” one student complains, and we found no reason to dispute that judgment, even if the 1964-vintage building offers plenty of natural light and delicious views of the greystone Gothic campus.
But onward and food-ward. A serving of the kitchen’s garlic pork balls—deep-fried, with trans-fat aftertaste and that unmistakable bouquet of factory floor—was awful. A plate of pasta primavera, swimming in a packaged, paste-like roux with bits of tasteless carrot and deflowered broccoli (who knew green stuff could taste so unwholesome?), proved almost inedible. A rice side dish managed the Zen feat of white grains looking just like regular gohan but tasting like sawdust.
In the lasagna bolognese, at last, we found a tasty, generously portioned balm, with flavourful tomato and beef sauce and a passable melted-cheese roof. The jambalaya chicken was also not too offensive, with a nice little Creole heat. A side of corn, however, recalled the multiplex’s sickening I-can’t-believe-it’s-not-real-butter aroma. We were immediately diagnosed with diabetes after a bite of the Nanaimo bar, featuring a cracker base apparently made of real hardened artery. With the 10-meal-a-week plan going for some $2,600 a semester, food quality at the Garry Room is a disaster.
Yet, just a few doors down from Marquis, in the Arts Building—with a view of the stunning, castle-like Thorvaldson building—is one of the university’s many buffeterias, little gatherings of deli, salad and burrito counters dealing in the currency of ultra-fresh veggies and otherwise real food.
Though not on the meal plan, the fare is inexpensive, tasty—and a much better bet.