If you are thinking about applying to MSPP- or are already attending- there is a very good chance that there will be a day that for whatever reason you don't bring lunch with you. Major bummer. If this happens and you're like me, starving throughout the day isn't an option.
So what are your options? Here's my advice:
- Scour the kitchens on each floor for food that is for public eating. It isn't unusual to find something that is open for grabs! I've come across many a light meal this way, from crackers and cookies to crock-pot meatballs and sandwiches. I'm no food connoisseur, but the absolute best hummus I've ever tasted was left out on the second floor on a Thursday with individual sized pita breads to go along with it (If you happen to be the person who left that there, please let me know where you bought it!) Just make sure to be respectful of food that is not intended for sharing- for example, my lunch. Not for sharing.
- Check your email. Depending on the time of the semester, MSPP may host brunches, lunches, etc. Sometimes, the occasion is simply to promote self-care or develop a sense of community. These are always delicious. There may also be a club meeting, a bake sale, or a get-together. Certain times of the year may encourage more free food than others, so it's always worth checking. Free food options running low? No need to fret.
- You could have just skipped steps 1 and 2 anyways and walked on down to Plates.
Plates Café is located right in the same building as MSPP, so there's no need to hop in your car and lose your awesome parking spot that you got as a reward for signing up for early morning classes. If you are a first year student this year or will be joining MSPP next year, chances are that your orientation either was or will be catered by Plates. I personally heard no complaints about the food which, as we who are coming out of undergrad well know, may be a rare statement.
Plates has a regular menu with some fantastic items on it including create-your-own sandwiches or wraps, hot meals, specialty salads, and soups. Their specials change daily, and consist of a hot plate, hot sandwich, a salad and more. If you're in a rush and only have three minutes between supervision and your next class, they have an excellent suggestion of cold grab-and-go options including sandwiches, wraps or salads. My favorite grab-and-go option is the chicken Thai noodle salad. This deliciousness is made up of grilled chicken, mixed greens, a yellow Asian noodle, veggies, and a spicy peanut dressing on the side.
Today I decided to order the Hot Sandwich: Spinach and Chicken wrap. This option promised grilled chicken with black beans, rice and baby spinach, as well as a garlic aoli and their salsa. On the side? Home-made tortilla chips. No brainer. Hold the Black Beans though, please! I've never been a huge bean fan.
After ordering, I waited for my culinary creation to be complete. I looked behind me and there was a really nice waiting area complete with a comfy couch and tons of magazines. I sat down and began mindlessly flipping. I was only halfway through the first article when voila! My wrap was complete! In five minutes tops I was on my way to class.
I should post a disclaimer: I am not a food critic. I am also not a photographer. But, I know delicious food when I taste it, and so hopefully you'll allow my honesty about the food to outshine the visual accompaniment in this post.
I took my order upstairs and opened my box:
I delicately unwrapped the tinfoil off of the wrap. I took my plastic knife and cut it smack dab through the center. I lifted up a half, gave it one last one-over, and took a bite.
Talk about a party in your mouth! The combination of the chicken, rice and cheese was unexpectantly satisfying, and provided layers of texture and flavor. The baby spinach and tomatoes added a fresh element to break up the cheese. The chicken was fresh and moist with a distinct grilled flavor. combine these two elements and the consumer is left with a very satisfying and healthy meal for a reasonable price. I found myself regretting that I had asked for no black beans. The chips were crispy and fresh, like they had been made the same day. And they must have been, perhaps they were even fried to order.
I find Plates has the ability to walk delicately between the lines of health and taste. I admire their ability to use fresh and healthy ingredients while still allowing me to feel full after I eat a salad. But, if self-care for you means that you need something sweet or a bit off the healthy track, they do offer burgers and the like as well. If you want to start your day out on a sweet note, their muffins are absolutely fantastic. On both of my muffin occasions they were still warm and must have come out of the oven within the past thirty minutes! It would be difficult to compare Plates breakfast options and quality with any of the popular breakfast places that we tend to gravitate towards during the early morning hours. Plates may not have a drive-up, but my experience thus far is that they're speedy nevertheless.
In case you couldn't tell, I like Plates Café. They're delicious, healthy, and affordable for the higher quality of food that they offer. For the price of a number 10 at Mickey D's, you can get something far more substantial and healthy at Plates. I think that nine year old Liliana summed it up perfectly with her acronym for PLATES:
Perfect food, Lovely service, Always nice, Top restaurant, Exciting, and Salad Specials :-)
Have you ever visited Plates Café?
If so, what's your favorite menu item?