Over the past few weeks Critic has been sneaking into halls to review their food. We are fully aware that you can just buy meals at most of the halls, but our lives were getting dull and we needed some adrenaline to make us feel alive again. Also the Critic budget has been exhausted of late by certain “Staff Functions”.
We forgot a few of the halls existed, so some of the reviews are written last minute by current residents. You try remembering 15 things. It’s not as easy as it sounds.
Please note that we did not review UniFlats food, as it is magazine policy that they are not a residential college.
Flatbread – Some sort of crisp tortilla? Delicious. Honestly the best part of the meal - but lacked any and all structural integrity.
Beans – Literally just boiled green beans. No pepper or salt. Low effort. Maybe they forgot to start cooking these and just hurried them at the end?
Cauliflower – Haha yeah nice try, Hayward. It’s just white broccoli.
Tofu – Good veg option. Bit chewy. Felt like I was eating a well-cooked, well-spiced rubber. All in all, solid (if not, chewy).
Beef – Chunky in an Indian sauce that has the Maharaja rolling in his grave.
Chicken – Pairs well with flatbread and smuggled in vodka cruiser.
In all, it was a well-rounded meal. The welcoming atmosphere meant that I made friends with some freshies and faced no obstruction from the college while I ate all their food. I did abscond with an entire bowl of tofu and have no intention of returning the bowl. Thanks, Hayward.
Food of the day: Pasta and “Sophisticated Salad”
Hall food in all its glory. Carbs on carbs with the “sophisticated salad” consisting entirely of sad lettuce and a few stray onions. That’s just about as sophisticated as someone wearing their 2018 leaver’s hoodie to Carousel. Overall, not actually bad, but wouldn’t call it gourmet.
Caroline Freeman College:
Menu option: Spag Bol and various coleslaw variations
The ol’ reliable spaghetti bolognese. Hard to mess up, and did the trick to tame my belly beast. The salad options were impressive, simply because of the massive bowl of parmesan at the end. Parmesan is expensive and I actually snuck half a bowl of it into a takeaway container to take home, ready to fight another day.
Dining hall aesthetic: 10/10 (so light???)
Cheese portions: 11/10
I waited in line amidst a clump of freshers, trying to be as discrete as possible. Unfortunately, almost immediately upon entering the cafeteria, an aggressive, church camp counsellor-type woman with a ponytail confronted me.
Here is a general transcript:
“Take your hat off.”
“Who are you here with? Are you here with them? Are you their guest?” *gestures to the group of boys standing in front of me who’ve been eyeing me awkwardly*
“Uhh nah. Nah. I’m here with my friend Marcus.”
“Where is he?”
“Taking a dump.”
“Marcus… Uhh Marcus...Ball..ridge? Yeah, Marcus Ballridge.”
“Where’s your guest pass? Do you have a guest pass?”
“No, uhh I’m pretty sure Marcus has those? He’ll be here in just a bit. Can I just eat while I wait?”
“Marcus Ballridge? Yeah…. you’re going to need to leave until you can show me your pass.”
Food: 3/10 (it smelled okay?)
Atmosphere: 5/10 (some dudes were playing NBA 2K in the common room, not even a cool video game like Dark Souls)
Hospitality: 1/10 (can you actually not wear a beanie indoors in these places? Jesus Christ)
When I signed up to review UniCol, my first thought was “you just fucking played yourself”. I’d heard stories of muddied slop and hour-long queues. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised; the chicken korma at UniCol was pretty good. When I arrived at the Col (yeah, I know the fkn lingo!) one resident remarked at how excited they were to see broccoli for the first time. Weird. The curry was flavourful with decent chicken pieces, although painfully lacking in spice and served with some rather mushy rice. The coleslaw was literally the driest shit I’d ever tasted, the cabbage and carrot resembled the texture of shredded paper - where the mayo at?! Shitty salad aside, the orange juice UniCol had on tap was simply delightful; pulp free and chilled. Shout out to the weirdly shaped carrot shavings they gave us, and the friendly servers.
Salmon is a lovely seasonal fish. full of the freshness, vibrancy and oil that smack of the weird sex things you try on Autumn’s chilly afternoons.
You can kill salmon by hitting them sharply on the head with a blunt implement, but a sharp implement will probably also kill them. Most salmon can be killed in the same way as other animals, particularly fish, can be killed.
Other ways you can kill salmon include: poison, the guillotine, stabbing, shooting, humiliation, consuming while alive, making it sad, stealing its helmet so it’s dangerous the next time it cycles, smothering with a pillow, swapping out its panadol for heroin in the hope it ODs, garrotte wire, explosives, really deep paper cuts, radiation, drowning (actually no, this doesn’t work on salmon), drowning in blood, exposure, dehydration, exhaustion, electrocution, defenestration, botched circumcision, choking, and blood loss.
While some argue that salmon is too expensive for the average punter, its high nutritional value, coupled with its reputation for creamy expansive flavour, makes it a staple of many middle class households.
Also if you cum over it you can pretend it’s a delicious cauliflower sauce.
I’ll start off by saying I wouldn’t have been fucked to go to Aquinas if I hadn’t managed to infiltrate the shuttle. That hill is worse than Baldwin. The problem isn’t steepness, it’s more the fact that when you reach the top, you are at Aquinas. Making it through the dining hall was a breeze; I got two saussies, some salad, creamy leeks (a mistake) and a singular roast potato. The sausages were fucking yum, and even had rosemary inside, that’s boujee! Being ‘vegetarian’ at the flat and having a month-long dry spell meant my body was crying out for some meat. The salad had sprouts and other healthy antioxidant kinda shit, with that fancy mesclun lettuce your flat buys only on “special occasions”. The roast spud and peas were as good as roast spud and peas can get; however, the creamy leeks were a weird texture and low-key cold, not the goods. My dinner at Aquinas had all the mod cons of a summer BBQ, with all the charm of a prison on a far away hill.
Infiltrating the Knox College dining hall had me SWEATING. I joined the line that had formed part way down the hall’s Hogwarts-esque dining room and saw their master sitting at a table with other members of staff. We locked eyes and I quickly turned my back to him, shuffling towards the kitchen in a highly suspicious fashion. It was lunchtime on a rainy day; on the menu was pumpkin soup and cornbread. It is a fact that pumpkin is an elite tier soup with tomato, naturally, being right at the bottom. I grabbed a bowl of soup and some bread on a tray, thanks to the friendly and unassuming kitchen staff. As I went to take a seat, I saw a drink dispenser with some lime cordial. Usually sceptical of anything lime flavoured, I decided to be adventurous and poured myself a glass. It turned out to be the best part of the whole experience. I then awkwardly waddled over to a seat to fill up the nearest table to me. The soup was superb, with the cornbread dense and salty, cutting through the creaminess and sweetness of the pumpkin. Highly aware of the fact I was getting some strange looks from the table’s attendees I tried to scull the soup, before remembering everyone had to stay at the table until the last person was finished. FUCK. I burnt my tongue and had to apply liberal amounts of lime cordial; the beverage was simply exquisite. In that moment I vowed to never disregard a lime-flavoured item again. As I’d finished my food and was hanging around for the slower eaters, I started making some awkward small talk about Knox with one guy. He later told me that I had shit chat. Honestly, fair. With my stomach satisfied, tongue burnt and self-esteem slightly squashed my Knox lunch was a delicious, if not slightly sweaty, affair.
Yes, this is a place that exists. It has a spa and it’s awesome. Up for grabs this evening was:
- Lime and lemongrass chicken
- Steamed fish with tomato salsa
- Zucchini and chickpea ragout
- Steamed vegetable medley
- Chuck wagon corn (what the actual fuck is chuck wagon corn?!)
- Seashell pasta salad
- Tossed salad (who doesn’t love having their salad tossed?)
Obviously, OBVIOUSLY, I went for the lime and lemongrass chicken, because I’m a white person who likes to think that lemongrass qualifies a meal as a highly authentic SE Asian experience. There was a really strong lemongrass flavour.
The sauce was smooth like Sade. Coast to coast, LA to Chicago.
The rice was sticky, which I didn’t mind. The food here was a pleasant surprise, considering I didn’t even know this place was a thing.
7.5/10, B+ for a tossed salad.
Te Rangi Hiroa:
I never thought I was a fussy eater - I would eat anything that was in front of me because it was there. But then I went to Te Rangi. Don’t get me wrong, most of the time it’s fine, but since arriving I have become a forced vegetarian. My plate is usually just lettuce with an unhealthy amount of cheese on top as I sadly dream of my mother's food. Between lasagne with no cheese sauce, and steak that is somehow well done on one side and medium rare on the other, I have used most of my spare change going to New World. While I don’t trust the meat at all, a small cult around the ‘Red Drank’ that is served has formed and is honestly both hilarious and kinda worrisome. It's only a matter of time before I’m forced to drink the red drank. The kitchen staff are really nice, and I’m grateful they're dealing with a bunch of rowdy kids away from home for the first time, but last time I checked, ribs were meant to be more than a bone dripping in barbeque sauce. For now, I’m gonna stick with my cheese and lettuce disaster.
My time in the Toroa food hall was kind of like that song that Shakira did for Zootopia, you know - "try everything". So I did. I had all of the salads, as well as the main meat dish (chicken), and cookies for dessert. They even had sparkling water on tap! ON TAP! It was nice to eat there, and the staff were relatively easy to fool. Just strike up a conversation with another student in the line and they'll assume you are best friends. Just don't make the mistake I did and return all your cutlery and crockery correctly. They caught me just as I was being a tidy Kiwi, but honestly, by then I'd already eaten all the food, so I was like “why you up in my grill, Toroa?” Check your security before you check me boo!
St. Marg’s is a mysterious fortress of enigma. To get into St Marg’s, I realised, you had to both walk up a gentle incline and possess a bunch of NCEA scholarships. So, in the end, I decided to interview a resident (Mr X) about the food instead. Turns out they have a formal dinner every Sunday. As in, you have to dress up and have a formal dinner. On Sunday? When you’re trying to shake a come down? Oh wait, St Marg’s aren’t breathers. Anyway. Mr X said that he’d gained a ton of weight because of the sheer amount of carbs. Rice was served with every meal, even when there were also mashed potatoes. He ate mashed potatoes and rice for many meals. That’s all that he had to say about St.
Variety is the name of the game at Arana College, as any given week will feature the weird and the wonderful. A classic burger and chips might be your Friday night delight, but the day before might be a chicken, apricot and cream cheese filo pastry. There’s always one vegetarian option accompanying two differing meat options, alongside a constantly replenished salad bar with vegetables, sauces, and a salad of the day to stack up onto your plate. It’s good, with seconds available 20 minutes before lunch/dinner service ends, so if you haven’t loaded up on enough carbs another helping is always on offer.
Once your plate is full it’s time to pick up a drink. Juice, water, coffee and hot chocolate are always available, with the occasional flavoured milk too. Time to sit down and enjoy a good feed with your mates. I’ve had bad meals, and I’ve had good meals, but the kai at Arana is up there.
But also, fuck Arana
Walking up a hill makes the whole Carrington experience seem a crap ton less exciting, although there’s definitely a few perks to this little studious nook. The dinner menu offers a damn good salad bar range and heap of sauces, even adding in fresh pineapple (not that tinned shit). The ‘Sweet Thai Chilli Squid’ sounded pretty fancy but I’m not about the fish life, and the schnitzel looked tougher than getting into Health Sci, but man the vegetarian was a good feed (as long as you’re not one of those fucked up vegetarians who doesn’t eat vegetables). The students seem more alcohol deprived than the food; the hefty white wine sauce accompanying the mushroom that topped some crispy polenta triangles was good enough for thirds. Dessert was a bit bland, rice pudding and plums, although other nights boast slices, fudge, and they even had an ice cream sundae night with ‘add your own toppings’ so hey, no regrets going to Carrington here.
Options: 8/10, a LOT of food
Ambience: 5/10, too formal for lunch
Food wastage: 10/10, felt guilty for a week
“It’s quiche, get fizzed” is the text I get from my little brother when I tell him that I will be attending Selwyn lunch. I am instantly fizzed; quiche is great. We walk into Brother’s Hall at 12.50 and avoid the queues. I reacquaint myself with the dining hall, complete with a slightly-off portrait of David Clark and the raised high table with its gavel (luckily empty). Just your average, relaxing, dining room.
I am served a massive slab of bacon and egg quiche. Naturally, I also grab a piece of Oreo cheesecake from the previous night’s dinner, as an entrée. Then I am confronted with the salad bar. There is kumara salad, pasta salad, quinoa salad, kale salad, Israeli cous cous salad, leafy salad, and tabbouleh. I limit myself to some tabbouleh and leafy salad. There are more food options out the front, leftovers from a previous night. I ignore those, because my plate is already overflowing, and head for the coffee machine.
We sit down by ourselves on the uncomfortable wooden benches (seriously, these are still awkward to sit on). As anyone who has had coffee from one of the automatic powdered milk machines will know, the coffee is bad. On the other hand, the food is great – the pastry is perfectly crispy and flaky, the tabbouleh is refreshing, the cheesecake is decadent. But I have way too much food. By the time I’ve finished my light entrée of Oreo cheesecake it dawns on me that the quiche is too much. I end up throwing away some perfectly good quiche and tabbouleh. I feel guilty about it for the next week.