Sunday, December 04, 2011

The Gastronome

The Gastronome
Cal St. Fullerton

Classes first started at Cal St. Fullerton in 1957. In 1988 they finally got dorms for about 800 students, at the time enrollment was about 20,000. In the early 2000's Fullerton added a second phrase of dorms. Both phrases of dorms did not have a traditional dining hall. Students would have to cook their own meals or buy a meal plan at Hope International University, which is across the street from CSF.

Then in August of 2011, with enrollment well over 30,000, CSF opened a third phrase of dorms that finally included a dining hall!! Called The Gastronome, it's a huge complex that is broken up into five sections; deli/grill, salad bar, dessert bar, fried food bar, meal of the day.

The first college dining hall The New Diner reviewed was, McConnell Bistro at Pitzer College, and I was very impressed with how far "dorm food" has come. But, then I was reminded of how bad dorm food can still be when I went to Los Olivos Dining Commons at Cal Poly Pomona.

Since CSF is part of the same college system as Cal Poly Pomona, I figured I would get more of the same. $12.39 for dinner and is all you can eat.

There was a large salad bar, stocked with tons of veggies. Some were fresher than others. I got romaine lettuce, spinach, chopped eggs, kidney and garbanzo beans, and cucumbers, topped with ranch dressing.  Most of the veggies I got were fresh, except for the cucumbers, which had been sitting around too long.  The dressing was diluted with water, making it very runny and hurt the flavor.  Overall, a pretty standard buffet salad bar.  But, I didn't find any carrots!!

I got the regular and buffalo chicken wings are from the fried food section, which also had some bacon wrapped hot dogs. The wings are already fried and they will toss the buffalo wings sauce when you order it. The wing were crispy and juicy. The sauce was a bit mild for me, but a pretty good example of wings.

The chicken curry-with carrots, peas and potatoes, was located in the "entree section." The other entree offering was meatloaf, which I didn't want, it just didn't look appetizing. I like that this station offered two entrees and the entree choices changes daily.

The chicken was white meat and pretty flavorful. The curry had a mild flavor, I'm more used to a bolder flavor when it comes to curry.

The busiest and longest section served freshly grilled chicken sandwiches, burgers, a pizza area, and had sandwich bar, where you wrote what you wanted on your sandwich and it was freshly prepared.  I got a turkey, salami, and capocola with cheddar cheese.  This was a very fresh sandwich with good sliced meats.  I'm not expecting the best sliced meats, but I was satisfied with the quality of meats.

Pepperoni pizza. The pizza are made in a wood fire oven. But the quality of ingredients were lacking. The cheese was very rubbery, the crust was mediocre, and the pepperoni was just ok. I really thought this was a pizza from Little Caesars and that isn't a compliment.

The chicken sandwich is made to order, is a good sized piece of chicken breast that is well seasoned with salt, pepper and onion and garlic power. It was cooked perfectly on the grill. The lettuce and tomatoes were fresh, but the bun was just a regular bun, nothing special about it. I really liked the sandwich, which was flavorful, tender and moist.

I didn't care for the burger, which tasted like mystery meat burgers and wasn't good at all. It was just too greasy, it must have been 70-30 meat to fat ratio, which is terrible.

Service overall was very good. The cashier was nice and friendly. All the servers were nice. But, the guy at the grill, who prepared your burgers or sandwiches, was moving in slow motion. I mean there are people in line and he's going so damn slow. The guy cooking your burgers was nice and moved quickly.

The students at Cal St. Fullerton are more down to earth kids, not the spoiled, snotty rich kids who attend Pitzer.

Overall, I enjoyed my first trip to The Gastronome. I'm not sure it's a good value at $12.39, but there was a wide variety of food and the quality, overall, was pretty good.