A night in Paris for just $5.50 -rws -dlh

Peter Gillette

While many of Lawrence’s 1,400 students crammed into Downer around 5:30 Wednesday night, 18 forward-thinking Lawrentians were just beginning to sit down to the early contender for Best Campus Meal of 2005, food services’ first Bistro Night.
The students’ welcome break from typical campus dining fare Wednesday night came courtesy of food services, who have been searching for culinary venues outside the norm that would offer eaters a break from Downer, Lucinda’s, or the Grill.
The event transformed Riverview Lounge into a quaint romantic eatery, bathed in candlelight and filled with pleasant aromas of flower centerpieces and garlic chicken *******– not what many would typically associate with “college dining.”
While the four-course meal certainly seemed gourmet, the price was right *******– $5.50 of grill credit or Viking Gold. That means that the bistro-goers, spoiled and served, paid less than the price of some Downer meals. What’s more, there was no waiting in line, hunting for a table of friends, or clunky blue trays intruding on the ambience.
Because of the quality of the food *******– and service *******– the seating was limited to 18. Students were able to sign up earlier in Downer, but only seven took the opportunity. “I think it’s because students don’t like to commit that far in advance,” said Jill Brinkman, retail operations supervisor, who oversaw the event.
Eleven more students got the hint by the time the sign-up moved to the grill in advance of the bistro, filling out the seating.
When asked which particular food within the meal was the best, each of the diners who were interviewed paused for a while, unable to decide. But in *****The Lawrentian*****’s wholly informal “poll,” the winter squash soup took the cake, so to speak.
“It was the seasoning that did it for me,” Emily Saltzman said.
Other votes came for the first course, baby greens with vinaigrette, and raves for the main course floated about: Moroccan cous cous and green bean saut****[ADD ACCENT]*** supported a hearty garlic chicken.
(Brinkman added that although the chicken is “40-clove garlic chicken,” using that name before the meal might unnecessarily scare people away from what was, by all accounts, one tasty dish.)
While the catering staff served, the other students found an opportunity to relax. “The ambience is really nice. It even makes the otherwise unappealing Fox River look almost romantic,” Saltzman joked.
As she was being interviewed, Saltzman stopped mid-sentence as she and her tablemates, Townley Ennis and Jeanette Devereaux-Weber, conversed excitedly about the dessert: the lemon sorbet is served.
One table over, Paris Brown mentioned that at $5.50, “You get much more than you pay for.” Brown’s favorite food of the night? The bread.
Brown’s dining companion Jeremy Bojko was enthusiastic about the food and the evening. “They should do it once a week,” he said.
“I don’t know how feasible that would be,” replied Tim Sullivan, who is over 21, from across the table and behind a glass of white wine.
“Okay, well once a month. More often, at least,” Bojko concluded.
Brinkman thinks that similar events could be happening, maybe with more advertising, in the future. Brinkman, whose duties include overseeing the Union Grill and Union Station, welcomes the idea:
“It’s a break from what I do every day.” In Riverview Lounge, savoring sorbet by candlelight, there are at least 18 lucky students who would probably agree with her.