The (not so common anymore) Commons
One of the biggest gripes that Tufts students had during this year’s fall semester was the closure of the widely used and very well respected Commons, located on the lowest level of the Campus Center in the very heart of campus. The unique features of this place were the central location and the fairly well-priced food for the quality offered to the students. Of course, that gripe was quickly gone by the time the new, revamped café was opened this past January just in time for the new semester’s start. I took a venture through what the new Commons offers and created a short review on what one can find on a day-to-day basis in the new (and definitely improved) kitchen.
The first thing one notices when they walk into the lower area of the campus center is a bright and well-decorated wooden plaque above the has a cute spoon together with the engraved words “The Commons.” For anyone old enough to remember, The Commons used to be split into two sections: one with hot and mostly fried and grilled foods, and one with refrigerated closed container salads, fruit, beverages, and an array of daily soups and salads. Everything tasted the way you would expect it to: good enough for a lunch, but poor enough that you would expect better variety and a more integrated menu. No longer is that the case. The two sides of the commons are now integrated into several basic stations: a section with bottled water, juices, and your pick of tossed salad, fruit salad or a few ready-made deli sandwiches, and a buffet style section for hot prepared food like griddled corn and green beans and broccoli and cheddar soup. It is quite convenient, in my opinion, and everything was presented in a much more organized and therefore more appealing way than anything before the renovation.
New and stylish LCD screens jump out at you along the far right and left corners where in my opinion lies the best option at The Commons: a toss your own salad station much like the Chipotle assembly line where you choose all the ingredients yourself to create a salad made just for you the way you like it. Just choose a size, a protein, a couple of vegetables and a few garnishes—all for a flat price. In my opinion, this is the single biggest upgrade to the dining experience at the new Commons café, simply because it is trendier and more appetizing than packaged containers of food that sit in the refrigerators all day.
My second favorite section is the panini and hot sandwich section, where a person or two will gladly take your order from a well-labeled television screen (again going with the trendy upscale look), and make it for you in a matter of minutes. Paninis are made daily and can have anything from pork to tofu to turkey. All you have to do is name the one you wish for them to heat up. You can pair it with soup that you can pour for yourself or a small bowl of fruit or a bottled beverage. In terms of pricing, it is relatively unchanged; you can expect to spend about $10 on a lunch complete with enough food to last you through your classes.
The new mantra for the whole eating experience seems to be upscale but quick food. It is now a focal point for students and professors alike who like to enjoy a relatively healthy meal and speed away to their next lecture or meeting.
– David Kheyman