A Fresh View: Navigating Brown’s Food Scene

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Hey! I’m Nicole Fleming and I’m a blogger for A Fresh View. I’m here to share with you some of my experiences as a first-year student, the ups and downs of my transition to college, and why Brown is the best place to be a freshman!

Fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies. Homemade muffins. An ice-cold mango smoothie… Any of those making your mouth water? It’s definitely hard to resist the appeal of good food. However, upon coming to college, I was prepared to be disappointed. Even though I’d heard the occasional story of campuses’ delicious signature dishes, it’s hard to find college students who rave about the quality of their schools’ dining halls. Therefore, to be honest, I was a little concerned about the food at Brown. What would be my options and, more importantly, how would I like them?

Good news: Brown has a lot of choices. And, even better, good choices! To be honest, it did take some time for me to find the best dining options. For the first couple weeks, it was all too easy to wander in search of a quick dinner to the V-Dub, one of Brown’s bigger dining halls that (conveniently) happens to be located in the basement of my dorm building. Unfortunately, walking blindly into a big dining hall usually led to disappointment. Too many options, none of which really caught my eye. However, although it took a little time, I figured out some easy strategies for making my meals at Brown something to look forward to.

First, Brown posts each dining hall’s daily menu online. I can say from experience that it is definitely worth checking it out. Even if I’m in too big of a rush to work my schedule around specific dining halls, it helps to at least have an idea of what all is offered at the dining hall I’m headed to. This is important because, as I quickly discovered, the food option with the longest line at the Ratty (Brown’s biggest dining hall) is not necessarily the best one – checking out the menu helps me know which line is actually worth standing in.

Also, once I checked out a variety of dining options, I discovered that Brown offers a lot of food that is better than the typical dining hall choices. For instance, the Blue Room, a smaller, à-la-carte dining option on Brown’s main green, makes possibly the most delicious butter rum muffin on the face of the planet. Quesadillas at Jo’s, a snack bar with lots of meal possibilities, are always worth the walk. And it’s a guarantee that I’ll be at Andrews, another à-la-carte dining option, for breakfast burritos and yogurt bowls on weekends.

At least to me, it seems like Brown dining offers something for everyone. I can definitely see the appeal of the bigger, buffet-style Ratty and V-Dub. However, in my opinion, checking out some of Brown’s smaller eateries is definitely worth any extra effort. The food isn’t just “okay” – it’s totally something students like me crave.

Plus, when students need a break from the dining hall options (which inevitably happens), Providence offers lots of great restaurant choices. Several of them are located right off campus on Thayer Street – I’m always taking advantage of my dorm’s proximity to East Side Pockets (a delicious gyro restaurant) and, of course, the Ben & Jerry’s that’s only a few blocks away (definitely my favorite off-campus snack).

In short, it took me a little time to adjust to Brown’s dining system during the first few weeks of my freshman year. However, once I figured out the best options, I realized that food at Brown doesn’t just consist of the basic dining hall setup. The presence of both large, buffet-style dining halls and smaller eateries, alongside off-campus choices, gives students a lot of flexibility – and a lot of delicious options.

I would love to chat if you have questions or just want to talk about Brown! Please email me at nicole_fleming@brown.edu.

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