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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Faculty Club: A higher level of dining for students

Published: November 7, 2008
Section: Features

FINE DINING: Try the Faculty Club, which offers a high caliber buffet at a decent price, as an alternative to Sherman.

PHOTO BY Ben Sacks/The Hoot

Did you know that students are allowed to eat at the Faculty Club? I didn’t, but it’s true. Wedged between Sherman and Shapiro Campus Center, The Faculty Club is open to everyone for lunch between 11:30 am and 2 p.m. on weekdays. Intrigued, I grabbed a couple of friends and we were off to the finest dining establishment that Brandeis has to offer.

Once inside, the first thing one notices is that this place looks like a real restaurant. Not in an IHOP or Applebee’s kind of way, like the Stein, but a place you wouldn’t be embarrassed to bring a potential lover on a first date. Every table is carefully draped with a pristine white tablecloth, and the silverware has been tucked into a folded napkin with ruffles on the side. The chairs have all been tucked in for appearance, and the buffet food has been ornamentally arranged to appear as appetizing as possible, presented literally on a silver platter.

We were promptly directed to sit at a table of our choice, which meant that we had our pick of the entire restaurant, minus two occupied tables on the sides. No sooner had we sat down than our waitress, Marge, came and poured each of us a full glass of ice water. What would we have? Nothing from the menus apparently – on Fridays there are no menus, and patrons have a choice between a salad bar, which costs $7.95, and a full course meal, including soup, salad, multiple entrees and a wide selection of desserts, all for $12.50. Unfortunately meals from the meal plan are not accepted, but for those with an abundance of points, go for the full meal. It’s worth it.

A full meal began with chicken soup that day, followed by full access to the salad bar. Egg rolls were then in order, along with rice, Chinese noodles, asparagus, chicken and beef, noodle salad and much, much more. Two of the four of us were vegetarian, and none felt that a wider selection was in order. Everything is buffet style, all you can eat, come as you please.

For those who opt not to go for a full meal, the salad bar is quite plentiful. It has many of the same offerings as the salad bar in Sherman. Among the selection were all of the makings of a salad, including lettuce, hard boiled eggs, applesauce, yogurt, a variety of fruits such as pineapple and cantaloupe and more.

Even though much of the food is similar to that served in Usdan or Sherman, the food sparkles of quality that neither of those places offer. “It’s definitely a step up,” noted Steven Sasmor ‘10, who partook in almost every single tray at the buffet table. The green beans are the same as those in Sherman, yet not. They’re cooked correctly, ours were perfectly seasoned with just the right amount of peppers and walnuts, and they seemed to crunch more consistently. No soggy ones.

I wish that there had been options available from the menu that day, because some of them sounded positively delicious, such as the Pesto Chicken Focaccia and the Baked Haddock Florentine.

Bring a few dollars for the tip, as tips cannot be paid with points. We had no reservations leaving a few dollars for Marge- she was so helpful. She must have asked seven times if we needed refills for our water, and she even kept the salad bar open a few minutes later just for us, since we had not quite finished by 2 p.m. She also complimented us as being the “nicest students” that had ever come in. Perhaps she says that to all of us, but she sure sounded genuine.

So if you have had enough with the lack of variety at Usdan, or want to feel more upscale than Sherman, check out the Faculty Club. And say hi to Marge.