What do two hungry first-year guest writers, Nathan Ko and Jose Regalado, have to say about the new dining hall?

For the first time, Grace Dodge Dining Hall at Teachers College is available for undergraduate students.. Earlier this year, it was announced that Columbia dining acquired Grace Dodge Dining Hall, and students had many questions. How good will the food be? Who even is Grace Dodge? Will the food here give me a stomachache akin to the one the spicy pork belly quesadilla from JJ’s gave me last night? As two first-years hungry for some work, we took on all of those questions. 

Sadly “Grace Dodge Dining Hall” is not located in Dodge Hall. The dining hall is located in Teacher’s College, which, as freshmen living in John Jay and Wallach, seemed like the far green light Gatsby stares at (picture that epic shot of Dicaprio). Getting to the actual dining hall was another odyssey in itself. In order to arrive at the dining hall, you might want to ask people around on how to find the dining hall. (Pro tip: imagine you’re Orpheus wandering through the underworld. Don’t look back and have blind faith in yourself, and you’ll arrive at this big, underground dining hall.)

There are some aspects of Grace Dodge Dining Hall that do remind us of JJ’s; it’s underground and can feel like a secret-society. However, Grace Dodge is much bigger, as it’s comparable to Ferris and John Jay in size. What makes it different spatially is that unlike John Jay, which has two spaces to dine at, or Ferris that has two floors, Grace Dodge is just one big space.

What truly made Grace Dodge so graceful was the food. As writers, we came into Grace Dodge thinking we’d write a funny Bwog article critiquing the food, but once we looked around, we realized that the food looked healthy and scrumptious 

The special for that day was a Thai chicken bowl, and, lest I didn’t include enough puns already, it embraced us with grace that was impossible to dodge. The bowl contained so many fresh vegetables to the point where those vegetables alone were enough to fill me for the day. When it comes to vegetables, it kicked both John Jay and Ferris’s ass. The chicken was not as great, but still, that might be because the vegetables truly shined. We came back a second time to see if this still was true and to our liking; the vegetables just seem to get fresher and fresher every time we try it.

These vegetables tasted like they weren’t from the same sources those from the other dining halls were from. If we were Minouche Shafik (which we unfortunately aren’t), we’d consider renaming Grace Dodge “the erotic fantasy that the vegan students daydream about.” The food is so healthy that, if students want to be healthy but also want to dodge working out in Dodge, then we recommend taking in the grace of vegetables in Grace Dodge. Okay, sorry for the puns. Please keep reading. We’re new first-year writers, and we want to be liked by the editor-in-chief. 

At times it seems as if it’s just a bunch of randomly chosen vegetables that they put together with a meat (or tofu for our vegan readers) of their liking, making it an oasis of healthy food in the middle of so many fast food options, but that it will maybe stay short for people who look for newer and refreshing culinary experiences.

But it wasn’t just vegetables that Grace Dodge was good at. The flatbread is a miracle. It doesn’t get much better than this in terms of flatbread in Columbia. Even its mere look was something else. If there’s a student on a keto diet at Columbia, Grace Dodge’s flatbread is the nightmare since it just looks so damn tempting. 

It has to be admitted that the flatbread alone can be a bit bland. However, on every table in Grace Dodge, there are bottles of Tabasco and Cholula! And, to paraphrase Guy Fieri, while putting that hot sauce on your flatbread, keep in mind that life is a meaningless ruse, a hapless farce which we toil in vain to imbue with meaning. So go nuts with the hot sauce.

And while we loved Grace Dodge, there were some parts that we wish would’ve been… dodged. Like the Manhattan clam chowder that hit the equilibrium on the scale of heat. It was warm, but it wasn’t the warmth that you look for in soup. It was an uncomfortable warmth: not hot enough to enjoy the soup and not cold enough to complain about it. 

While we didn’t try it, we heard earlier that day that someone tried tuna flatbread and it was dreadful. However, we don’t blame Grace Dodge for that. We blame the victim. Who goes into a school dining hall and decides they want to have tuna flatbread? With such questionable decision skills, I wonder how Columbia admitted that student.

The music can also catch someone’s attention at an instant. There was first an Irish song when we first entered, and while we were waiting in line for the Thai chicken bowl, the music suddenly became EDM. If you’re looking for the new underground music from all genres, literally go underground. 

There’s a piano with no one playing it at the corner of Grace Dodge that epitomizes the dining hall the best. Grace Dodge is like a piano, just waiting to be eaten. So run to Teachers College, and eat with a melody that resembles a Bach piece. I don’t think we’re wrong when we say this is the best dining hall in terms of healthy food that Columbia has to offer, not better than Barnard  of course, but pretty high up for Columbia standards.

Grace Dodge dining hall via Nathan Ko.