The Den, just downstairs from the Black Lounge—the other student union-run haunt—is in decor and atmosphere everything you’d ever want in a campus pub: a little rank (stale beer is my personal napalm in the morning!), a little dingy (cinder-block ceilings are big in Manhattan!), but it’s still cleaner than your dorm. Perfect, then, for a little booze-fuelled MIA action. And the food is some of the best, most reasonably priced stuff on campus.
The Den Reloaded, a classic half-pound burger featuring sautéed mushrooms, bacon and a good dollop of cheddar and mozzarella, tasted authentically of the grill (though the bun had wilted by the time it arrived at table and was too soggy for our liking). A spinach salad with goat cheese and strawberries benefited from that potpourri effect of rich cheese and wonderfully fresh, sweet fruit—film majors, you will find it as ephemeral as happiness in an Ingmar Bergman flick—but was too stingy on the orange balsamic vinaigrette.
The chicken Kiev, a special on this day, was an unfortunate H-bomb of herbs and multiplex butter. The innards exploded across the plate like ooze from an Alberta tailings pond. It was accompanied by hardy, green broccoli and a delightful barley risotto that was the best dish of the day.
Yet the Den did not fare well with its desserts. Mother taught us warm apple crumble should be crunchy, so lay off the microwave. New York cheesecake? Coated in a heavy treacle of fruity goo, it had the flavour and consistency of raw cookie dough. Sampling the chocolate chunk brownie, meanwhile, with its thin rivets of raspberry icing, was like eating the flesh of a diabetic. Sweet teeth stay clear!