What’s for dinner? For students living in North Village, it could be Crown Commons. 

But beware, Crown has been on a recent disappointment streak. It’s become commonplace for students visiting the dining hall to complain about the quality of the food or share campfire stories of their bad past experiences. For Crown, the food could use some work. Compared to its South Village counterpart, SoVi, it’s safe to say that Crown is the redheaded stepchild of the family.

At its core, Crown has two problems: food variety and overcrowding. Instead of having Crown’s scatter of unnamed food stations, SoVi has Bok Choy (the Mongolian food station) with that sweet and sour chicken, Flame (the barbeque station) with customizable hamburgers, and Home Sweet Home with traditional home-cooked meals. But, when it comes to pizza, Crown has SoVi beat. Crown’s angel-crafted pizza decimates SoVi’s burnt monstrosities. 

Another major red flag about Crown is its dessert bar. SoVi has what feels like an indoor Ben & Jerry’s while Crown has its infamous ice cream freezer. Alone in the corner, this self-serve eyesore is not a nightmare for what it can do to your waistline but whether it’s clean or not. The scoop spoon is left swimming in a gray pool of old ice cream. It’s not the most appetizing thing to see before enjoying a midnight snack. 

Touching on space: Crown doesn’t have it. Right at the center of campus, Crown serves a tsunami of students around lunch and dinner time. At about midday, Crown turns into a sardine can and seating is scarce. The space between tables can become narrow and you can feel a tad claustrophobic. 

Space aside and focusing more on atmosphere, SoVi has something that Crown doesn’t: Rockbot. Essentially, Rockbot is a downloadable app that acts as a DJ where people can up-vote and down-vote songs played at a restaurants, cafés, bars, gyms and other locations. I appreciate this seemingly small addition to SoVi that allows me to pick the songs that I want as opposed to hearing “Can You Feel It” for the third time at Crown. 

However, I feel that SoVi’s atmosphere is just a placebo. Most people I’ve met on campus know that Crown and SoVi are basically the same with a few cosmetic differences. Because it’s newer, SoVi is Crown with a facelift. The dynamic wallpaper, the modern-looking ceiling lights and classy table designs give SoVi a sort of je ne sais quoi.

Though, not all of Crown is a dumpster fire. Just like SoVi, Crown has a salad bar, soup station and a place to get fresh fruit. SoVi does have more outdoor seating if that’s your thing, but remember: Crown was built within the confines of the Student Union; space is limited. 

Despite being cramped, Crown is open much longer than SoVi. Living in North Village, I find some nights during the week where SoVi is completely out of the picture. The trip to SoVi is like walking halfway across the state. Unless the bus is on time, it takes about half an hour. This might sound so-so until you realize that SoVi closes at 8:30 p.m. This means if you have a late class or lack the ability to teleport, you better head to Crown, which closes at 11:00 p.m. 

However, no matter where you go, Crown or SoVi, the janitorial and cooking staff are almost always friendly and the tables are usually clean. So, be sure to be polite and always thank them for what they do. 

In closing, the food at Crown is more than edible and the truth is that no matter how much they improve, somebody somewhere will find reason to nitpick. Crown could add more choices to its menu and perhaps rearrange its seating. As for quality, it’s a college cafeteria. It’s neither the best nor the worst. It’s in this murky gray-area. In other words, it’s better than late night Ramen noodles. 

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