More Places to Eat on Campus! Hurray…?
Written by Bwog Staff
Bwog’s resident food critic Kate Abrams took one for the team and ventured out to review the newly opened Brad Café at the Journalism School.
When I heard the people behind Campo were running the new Journalism School café, I had hope. After all these years of burying myself in the depths of Avery—as both an art history major condemned to researching non-circulating books and a girl hungry for those basement treats—I was ready for an alternative. Its appearance is certainly inviting. The tables flow from open-air seating to a covered alcove, encased within a surprisingly warm modern design. And then, further back, you are suddenly transported into what feels like a groovy family run café from the Pacific Northwest, with friendly people and a colorful chalk menu (complete with slogans like “Peace, Love and Subs” or “Make Salads Not War”).
The menu consists of about eight different types of sandwiches and salads, with the options to add or subtract what you like and to choose your own dressing. Both are freshly made to order, but the freshness of the ingredients is debatable. In addition, there is the usual array of potato chips and drinks as accompaniments, but also a few anomalies like milkshakes and a $2 hot dog.
Let’s start with the sandwiches.
Noticing that one of the extra ingredients on the sandwich menu was bacon, I developed an irresistible urge for a BLT. This was a mistake. They handed me a hot mess of shredded lettuce and a single tomato with only two measly strips of undercooked, fat-only bacon buried underneath. At least the roll was warm. At first, I felt it was my own fault for not ordering off the set menu. But then my friend received his Turkey Melt, which wasn’t really a “melt” at all but just a standard turkey sandwich, upon which he immediately remarked that it tasted like Subway, but not as good. All in all, not a very satisfactory lunch.
While the café offers one new good thing—the ability to pay with debit or credit—it simultaneously takes away another: flex and dining dollars. And although the sandwiches are an undeniably good value (its rare to find a hero for only 5 bucks around these parts), they’re still not worth it, especially when you can actually go to Subway and get double the sandwich for the same price (hello, $5-foot-long!). If you’re going to pay cash and are looking for some well-crafted sandwiches on campus, why not go to Avery? Even Café 212 has better sandwiches by nature of the create-your-own-vibe and a larger variety of toppings and sauces. They also pack the bacon on there—lots of it, cooked too. And both Lerner and Milano accept Flex.
The salads are fair game, with standard offerings, both ingredients- and dressing-wise. In many ways, you can’t go wrong with a simple salad, and at $6.50, I’d say this is Brad Café’s best deal for a meal. Like the subs, they have a preset menu, with offerings such as Cobb salad or chicken salad over lettuce. But if you’d rather make your own salad, I would pay one or two more dollars for the plethora of options at either Milano or Westside.
There are some redeeming features of J-Café. The pastries are fresh, the coffee is cheap, and there’s a chance that you can snag a table to yourself since it hasn’t been overly crowded recently. You might even be able to catch the game or some news on the flat screen mounted inside. As much as I may have against the food, I can’t deny that it’s a good place to grab a cup of coffee and relax for those fleeting moments between classes. Especially if you want to avoid the anxiety-inducing environment that is Lerner or Starbucks in the midday rush. But overall, Brad’s Café unfortunately looks much more appealing that its food actually is.