McMaster University - Commons Marketplace

What is it with university cafeterias and overpriced produce?


Located in the centre of McMaster’s north residence quad, the Commons is not the easiest place to find, but following the crowd will get you there. After dodging a man in a bunny suit driving a circus-clown bike (ah, engineering rituals), we enter—and find ourselves in the middle of a traffic jam. The problem: a huge lineup at Chef Troy’s popular pasta and stir-fry station.

I decide to check out the rest of the cafeteria’s selection. Immediately after Chef Troy’s, there are four other stations serving sandwiches, Asian food (“Pacific Rim”), grill items (burgers and fries) and “Healthy Choice.”

In the centre of the area is a salad bar, which offers fresh food, but unfortunately at a premium price. What is it with university cafeterias and overpriced produce?

Being on a budget, I set out to cover the government’s food groups at the lowest possible cost. (My preferred food groups, which I will forgo today, consist of grease, sugar, caffeine, and chicken fingers.) That means the sub counter for me. I order up a 12-inch turkey sub with cheddar and veggies for $5.50. It is well stacked, and though the bread is not Subway quality, you get more sub in one here than two there. I walk back to Troy’s, where the lineup is now out the door. I get salad, a fair-sized chunk of salmon and rice for $10. Pricey, but salmon ain’t cheap.

I stop at Pacific Rim and pick up more rice, noodles and chicken balls: $6.

And before leaving, I grab a garlic bread.

The verdict: the chicken balls could use a little more chicken and the garlic bread tasted like it had soaked overnight in a barrel of garlic butter. The beverage selection is also limited; forget about getting not-from-concentrate or without-artificial-flavour. But the noodles, salmon, and rice were great, and the sub was excellent. Overall very good, especially compared to other schools.