Creelman Hall is arguably the most beautiful building on the University of Guelph campus. With wide steps leading to tall pillars and a Juliet balcony atop inviting double doors, the century-old hall looks like the regal stately summer home of the town judge. Inside, however, is a modern marketplace bustling with hundreds of Guelph students and staff who flock to Creelman for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The university campus boasts dozens of other spots and endless food options—everything from gourmet to greasy pub—but students know that Creelman is the place to go with a group. The marketplace-style dining serves up personalized plates, from new-this-semester Buddha bowls at the vegetarian counter to home-cooked comfort food from Mom’s Kitchen to flaky pastries (made from scratch!) at Creelman’s Bake Shop.
Since I can’t possibly choose, I let the foodies at Guelph make me a ﬁve-course feast. My mission: test if residence dining at Guelph is as good as they say. We start with an Indian Buddha bowl whipped up by chef Mike Framst. On a bed of what he calls “golden basmati rice”—regular rice spiced with colourful turmeric—there’s a heaping pile of toasted chickpea masala with tomatoes, crunchy red cabbage coleslaw, pea- and potato-stuffed mini samosas served with mango chutney and slices of naan bread for sopping up extra sauce. “What I like about this meal is that it’s so balanced: grains, vegetables and protein,” says Framst.
From Guelph’s famous 100-Mile Grill—exactly as it sounds, “proudly serving local, sustainable foods sourced from farms within 100 miles”—I order off the semi-intimidating meat-on-meat menu: the signature Gryphon Burger with cheddar cheese and bacon. A dollop of scallion mayo adds a flavour kick to a toasted pretzel bun, and the whole thing’s served up with lightly salted, hand-cut Downey farm potato fries on the side.
Since they tell me it’s Hawaiian Day—which explains the colourful leis and pink flamingo décor—I next dive into the featured pizza. Atop this decadent diet-ruiner is diced ham, hot red peppers, sliced capocollo and fresh pineapple, all swimming in tomato sauce and grated mozzarella, then drizzled with a ribbon of spicy mayo. Obviously, it’s delicious, but what makes it even better is that it’s baked in a real wood-ﬁre oven.
Now desperately seeking a veggie hit, my next meal is a ﬁbre-ﬁlled and SNAP-approved build-your-own bowl. Mine’s got Shanghai noodles, shrimp for protein, broccoli and sprouts, shimeji mushrooms, edamame beans and carrot stars (yes, you read that right, and they are adorable). “This is a good meal for before an exam,” notes chef Ian Camilleri. This is not-so-much true of the fabulous dessert he’s created to end my monster meal: three thick pancakes made with coconut milk topped with fresh strawberries, kiwis and pineapple, served with passion fruit, guava and mango puree, and topped off with a heaping pile of thick whipped cream dusted in more coconut. “This is a really good Friday breakfast,” says Camilleri, “especially if you’ve had a late Thursday.”