Friday, September 23, 2011

Goudy Commons (Part 2)

I returned to Goudy, taking a few trips to round out my eating experiences here.

First up, lunch. I wanted to try their wraps. Although the line for the wraps is easily the longest in Goudy, I patiently waited in line. By the way, at least on the day I went, the pizza line (of all places) was completely empty.

I got a custom-built wrap: a spinach tortilla stuffed with all their vegetables (such as spinach, tomato, broccoli, peppers, etc.), cheese, teriyaki chicken, buffalo chicken, Frank's Red Hot sauce, and sriracha. I then hit the salad bar for some roasted vegetables, salsa, and pickled jalapenos. People can also get white or brown rice in their wrap, but I bypassed that for more vegetables and meat. The total...just a bit over $7.

Wrap w/roasted vegetables
Cross-section of the wrap
When cutting into that wrap, I saw amazing, beautiful layers just waiting to be eaten. An ideal combination of crunchy/silky vegetables, spice kick, and savory poultry. The tangy, garlicky combination of sriracha and Frank's Red Hot Sauce marry well with the vegetables and the chicken. So many colors on my plate, and very satisfying in the stomach!

Next up, dinner! Goudy Commons features a $7, all-you-can-eat buffet. Salad, fresh fruit, pizza, pasta, beverages, vegan options, and dessert, all for the taking! Taking full advantage, I made three separate trips to get food (I doubt that was much of a surprise to anyone).

First up, some vegetarian/vegan options: whole wheat penne pasta, roasted vegetables, potato wedges, a soy/vegan dish (which I can't remember right now), and some pizza (one with pesto and another small portion of a cheese pizza).

I loaded up on carbohydrates for the first course. Each were average to good. The penne was nicely cooked, the vegetables were steamed and seasoned nicely. The pesto pizza was the winner for this plate. The right amount of melted cheese, and the crust had a welcoming pillowy consistency, similar to a good breadstick. The potato wedges were average and could have used a bit more time in the oven to get softer.

In round two: some brown rice, macaroni pasta salad, Caesar salad, and another slice of pizza (topped with mushrooms and olives).

This time, the tomato came through in the pizza sauce; nice chunks of tomato scattered over my serving. The nutty brown rice was cooked very nicely. I also enjoyed the macaroni salad. Perfectly cooked elbow macaroni dressed well with diced zucchini and julienne carrot. It's not Hawaiian macaroni salad, of course, but it worked for me. The Caesar salad was OK, but needed some Parmesan cheese, black pepper, and was a bit overdressed.

Finally, round three!

First, a nice pork tortilla soup with rice, black beans, and assorted vegetables. A comforting soup here that would really be a hit on a cold day (soup will start getting real popular in about a month or so).

The last course of the night...dessert! A small piece of white cake with a raspberry cream cheese frosting. A great fluffy cake here. Nice color and consistency on the raspberry cream cheese frosting, but let's face it, the presentation was boring. To be fair, this is a university cafeteria, so I'd be crazy to expect something like a five-layer cake.

For a mere $7, I enjoyed my all-you-can-eat Goudy experience. Definitely a good bang for your buck!

To continue my Goudy odyssey, I tried one of their breakfast items a few days later. Goudy serves breakfast until 10 a.m. (after which they will close for an hour to prep for lunch). I tried a pancake from the Willamette Grille section ($1.25). I'm not sure if this was planned, but my pancake looked like Mickey Mouse when delivered to me.

A...Mickey Mouse pancake?
Accompanied with a small helping of maple syrup
The pancake was beautifully prepared, light golden brown on the outside, fluffy on the inside. I wouldn't have minded the pancake staying a little longer on the flattop to get even more golden brown, but that's just me nitpicking. I wouldn't want super dry, tough pancakes, that's for sure!

Last, but not least, Willamette offers a special "small plates" menu at lunch on Thursdays. The small plates are generally different each week, but it consists of five high-end dishes that one would not associate with a university cafeteria. I was eager to try this out after my accounting exam wracked my brain earlier that morning.

I went on Thursday, September 22. The five dishes that day (a total of $14) were:

Seared Sea Scallop and Fresh Hood River Pear w/Lemon Olive Oil Drizzle ($3.50)
Soft Brie Cheese Polenta w/Crispy Fried Local Onion Rings ($2.75)
Drunken Local Honey Fig Tart w/Purple Haze Basil Salad ($3)
Forest Chanterelles Scramble w/Mozzarella Cheese and Zena Garlic ($3)
Halal Braised Goat Tangine w/Onions, Ginger, Garlic, Saffron, Allspice, and Fresh Naan Bread ($2.75)

Menu on Thursday, September 22, 2011
Soft Brie Cheese Polenta with Crispy Fried Local Onion Rings
Forest Chanterelles Scramble with Mozzarella Cheese and Zena Garlic

Halal Braised Goat Tangine with Onions, Ginger, Garlic, Saffron, and Allspice 
Seared Sea Scallop and Fresh Hood River Pear with Lemon Olive Oil Drizzle
Drunken Local Honey Fig Tart with Purple Haze Basil Salad
(the basil was from Good For You Farms in Silverton, Oregon)
My favorite was the cheese polenta. The burst of rich, cheesy, creamy polenta contrasted wonderfully with the crispy onion strips. Beautiful color on the onion strips here. Probably one of the few great dishes I had where I was happy for the small portion...otherwise I might not have finished everything!

The sea scallop dish was well-balanced. The lemon cut through the sweetness of the pear and worked well with the delicate scallop. The scallop had a lovely sear and cooked perfectly. If that was a fresh pear, it was likely very ripe because there was little firmness to it. The seared scallop's (temperature) heat and the lemon's acidity likely broke the pear's structure down a bit. It was the smallest dish on the menu -- and also the most expensive.

The fig tart had a nice sweetness to it without going overboard on that front. However, the mini pie shell was not very flaky and could have used a brushing of butter to get it golden brown. I guess Pie Spot in Portland spoiled me for good regarding excellent pies! I thought the sweet fig tart and zesty purple basil, when eaten together, was an interesting (not bad) combination.

I really enjoyed the chanterelles scramble. The mushrooms combined with what appeared (and tasted like) to be an Asian sauce to further that earthiness. I got a hint of garlic as I continued eating. However, I didn't detect any cheese in this one.

The goat dish was OK, but I felt the flavors were too muted here. To be fair, a slight essence of ginger and garlic resided in my mouth for a few hours after my meal. The chef braised the meat very well; it fell off the tiny bones without much of a struggle. However, I felt there was too much fat for my liking. And yes, the small bones had sharp edges on them. Don't eat the meat too fast...wouldn't want you swallowing that bone!

The naan bread was firm on the outside, but was boring and depressing to look at. My piece also had a large air pocket in it. Toasting or grilling the naan on the flattop before serving would have livened it up and created a more appealing exterior.

And with that, my Goudy experience is largely complete. My final thoughts here:

Overall, I was impressed with the Thursday small plates lunch menu. For a university cafeteria, they really can bring respectable to decent high-end cuisine, albeit with a few issues. But those issues, in turn, make me question whether it's worth it to get any or all the dishes (up to about $14 for all five courses). The exciting thing is they may do different dishes each week.

The breakfast was fine for what it was. They offer the usual breakfast selections, such as french toast, eggs, sausage, bacon, cereal, oatmeal, fruit, bagels, and coffee. It's good for the college student living in the dorms, but otherwise, I'd just eat something at home.

I did not really care too much for the dinner. Although it's all-you-can-eat, I only went up multiple times to try the various dishes, and many were average at best.

While I am reducing the rating for pedestrian breakfast and dinner offerings, Goudy is a solid lunch option, and I will continue to return for that. 6.5/10

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