Two words: old school. This is the most scholarly place either of our Friday afternoon party had ever eaten lunch, and the oak-panelled walls, cathedral ceiling, chandeliers, long wooden tables and portraits of history’s provosts at U of T’s most prestigious college were enough to elicit flashbacks of McGill’s Douglas Hall cafeteria—home, in the mid-1990s, to what must have been the most godawful cafeteria food in Canada. But as it turns out, Trinity’s somewhat outdated facilities are in a totally different league.
From the make-your-own sandwich bar one of us put grilled chicken and grilled vegetables on marble rye and dispatched it to the panini grill. “Perfectly decent,” its creator pronounced. It really is amazing what two hot pieces of metal can do for the humble sandwich. The salad bar won’t set anyone’s world on fire but offered crisp veggies to go with mixed greens, a coleslaw that was creamy without being goopy and a primavera-style pasta salad with chickpeas that was downright delicious.
The two soups on offer were a tasty and nutritious mixed vegetable and a clam chowder that, while bland, actually contained clams—no small thing in an institutional setting. The only misstep was the most promising-looking offering: made-to-order falafel. Consuming the cold, crumbly patties was a little like chewing on a mouthful of birdshot. And while dessert pickings seemed a little slim—we hadn’t had applesauce in a while, that’s for darn sure—it became apparent as we left that we’d clumsily overlooked an ice cream station. Damn.
There was no hot food on this day, and nothing remotely fancy—just a traditional, conscientiously prepared lunch with a few deft touches, like those grilled vegetables and the panini press. Those who demand variety might be frustrated. But if you’ve enrolled at a college that still requires students to regularly wear academic gowns in 2008, perhaps you shouldn’t be expecting sushi in the dining hall.