Sodexho serves up some sweet V-day dishes

Love is in the air, or at least it was about a week ago. On Valentine’s Day, I was fortunate enough to dine at the 1855 Room, the upscale dining hall on campus. I had never been there, thwarted by the formidable “Employee Dining” sign outside the building.

For dinner, a reservation is strongly suggested, and for the “Sweetheart’s Dinner,” it was required. However, there is no specific 1855 Room Web site, so it took a little time to find the phone number to make a reservation.

When 5 p.m. rolled around on Valentine’s Day, I hurried over to the restaurant, expecting to have to wait in line to be seated. Much to my surprise, my date and I were the only customers in the restaurant until the very end of our meal.

The white tulips and red poppies on the tables were a nice touch: It was simple and not overdone. The service at the 1855 Room was excellent as the waiters were incredibly warm.

Our three courses were served family style, starting with arugula greens tossed in lemon oil, topped with bacon-wrapped figs and sprinkled with almonds. The presentation was lackluster and served on a tin platter, while the salad was over-oiled and over-salted. Still, the figs wrapped in bacon were superb – the savory and sweet combination was very well executed.

Next came our entrees: panko-crusted crab cakes with a ginger-honey drizzle and a frenched pork loin chop stuffed with mozzarella and prosciutto. I’ve never been one for crab cakes and I thought they were perhaps a little dry, but my date inhaled them without a second thought.

The pork, to say the least, was one of the best entrees I have ever had. The mozzarella was creamy, and the touch of prosciutto added an extra pop of flavor. The meat was juicy and on the bone, which made for a very nice presentation. The side for the evening was near perfection: vanilla-infused wild risotto. We could smell the vanilla emanating from the dish, and the sweetness contrasted very well with the briny asparagus and salty spinach.

Our dessert, a mix of the traditional and the unexpected, was four long-stemmed strawberries dipped in everything but chocolate. The flavors were lemon supreme, taffy berry, mojito berry and nutty delight. They were served with a raspberry drizzle, and disappeared from our plate in 20 seconds flat. They were all fantastic, but our favorites were the mojito berry dipped in sugar crystals and chopped mint and the taffy berry dipped in caramel.

The meal was fantastic and really sends a message that Sodexho is not all bad. I just wish the 1855 Room presented a more welcoming aura to the student population.

If you plan on dining at the 1855 Room, just be wary of a few things. For instance, there is no divide between the kitchen and dining room, causing it to be a little noisy with the kitchen staff in full swing. Something overlooked on Valentine’s Day was music – even a little touch of melody would have made the atmosphere more romantic, and lessened the awkwardness of being the sole couple in the restaurant. Also, please know that you may have to use your Get-It points in lieu of your A la Carte plan. Aside from those few pitfalls, the 1855 Room is a lovely choice for lunch or dinner – my compliments to the chef.

My verdict: 4.5 out of 5 stars.