A Week in the Commons

By Michael Pascual

September 27, 2023

As most probably know, the MBHS school cafeteria was recently upgraded from a secluded food truck to a modern eating space, “The Commons”. This upgrade came with a new staff of chefs, and supposed increase in the quality of the food. Despite the change, the food has continued to be free for all students and staff members, which begs the question: Has the food quality actually improved? To find out, I ate the new lunch for seven days. 

Day 1

Today's meal consisted of a chicken drumstick and biscuit, with sides of mashed potatoes, Caesar salad, and grapes. I started off by sampling the grapes, and they were probably my favorite part of the meal, as they had a rich flavor and a satisfying crunch to them. From there, the lunch went downhill, with one of the most basic Caesar salads I have ever tasted, but I think it still succeeded as a somewhat decent side. On the other hand, the mashed potatoes were so dry and bland that it was difficult to swallow them, and the biscuits tasted essentially the same. As for the main course, chicken drumstick, I enjoyed it. The chicken was juicy enough to be satisfying and the breading, while very loose on the drumstick, had a nice texture that made it a more enjoyable eating experience. 

I feel like this meal could have been much tastier if there were more condiments offered. Some butter on the biscuit would have transformed it from dry and tasteless to something reasonably edible, and having gravy provided with the mashed potatoes would have the same effect. Additionally, further cooking the biscuit to give it a more natural flaky texture would have greatly improved its taste. 

Overall rating: C

Day 2

Today’s meal was noticeably more colorful than yesterday, with the fresh fruit adding a satisfying contrast to the orange of the chicken and white of the quinoa. The fruit today continued to impress me, with juicy strawberries and sweet watermelon. As for the quinoa, it was well cooked, with a slightly chewy texture and delicious tomatoes and zucchini. Unfortunately, the focaccia bread was incredibly bland and tasteless, making it my least favorite part of the meal. As for the main course, the spicy chicken wings were delicious, they were very flavorful and messy, making it an enjoyable eating experience.

This was overall very good on its own, but there were still some improvements that could have been made. I wish the chicken had more meat on the bones, it would have made it much more satisfying, and perhaps a different, less bland, kind of bread would be a smarter choice for this meal.

Overall rating: A-

Day 3

Today’s meal was the usual portion of fresh fruit, with a side of salsa coleslaw and olives, and some chicken onion pizza. The fresh fruit was delicious as always, with the blueberries and blackberries having incredible amounts of flavor. The salsa coleslaw was a first for me, and while it was unique, I feel like a more classic coleslaw would have complimented the rest of the meal much better. As for the center of the dish, the pizza was very good, for the most part. There was a satisfying ratio of sauce to cheese, the chicken was well cooked and seasoned, and the onion and cilantro kept it exciting, and the addition of honey finished it off into a memorable eating experience. My one complaint was the crust was incredibly burnt, to the point where it was like eating charcoal. 

Overall, this meal was delicious, and I have very few critiques to give it. The pizza, as much as I enjoyed it, needed a less burnt crust to be truly satisfying, and a different kind of coleslaw would have rounded it off nicely. 

Overall rating: A

Day 4

Today’s meal was a very messy burger, with sides of cantaloupe and sweet potato fries. Unsurprisingly, the cantaloupe was sweet and delicious, and the sweet potato fries, while being slightly burnt, were still very good. As for the main burger, I thoroughly enjoyed it. The coleslaw was a significant improvement from yesterday, the onion and lettuce was fresh and tasteful, and the burger sauce had just enough tang and sweetness to make it a good addition to the meal. Unfortunately, the burger patty was almost inedible. It was so unbelievably dry, that it was very difficult to swallow, and put a damper on the otherwise perfect meal. 

Overall, this meal was delicious. My only improvement would be to up the quality of the meat so that it's juicy and meaty, and not tasting similar to wet cardboard. 

Overall rating: B+

Day 5

On the final day, I was served a pork burrito, with a side of salad, steamed broccoli, and grapes. The grapes were sweet and delicious, and the steamed broccoli, while a little mushy, was very good. The salad was very vibrant, with a delicious combination of greens, chopped fruits, and feta cheese. One thing that is important to note is that the chopped orange was incredibly bitter, to the point where it didn't even taste like orange. As for the pork burrito, it did not disappoint. The pork was well cooked, with a savory and satisfying taste. The bean and cheese did a good job accenting the pork, and the peppers added a robust taste that brought the whole burrito together.

My only suggestion would be to leave the orange out of the salad. It was genuinely vile. 

Overall rating: A

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, I think that the quality of the cafeteria food has increased from its food truck days. The fruit stayed consistently delicious throughout the entire week, and while the dishes weren’t perfect, the chefs still did a very good job cooking and preparing all of it. It is also important to remember that all of this food is free, and available for all students and staff, which is what I think is an important part of what makes the new food even better than what you would get from a different school cafeteria.