Letchworth's sophisticated renovations provide fresh ambience for North Side residents

After two years of hiking to Mary Jemison Dining Hall for nearly every meal, students who reside on North Side of campus can grab a late-night snack in their pajamas and slippers again. As of Sunday Sept. 14, Letchworth Dining Hall has reopened. Those harboring memories of Letchworth’s shabby pink tile and standard cafeteria food from the pre-renovation era are in for a surprise. Everything about the dining hall is shiny and modern—it’s almost surreal.

What made Letchworth fun during my freshman year on North Side was the necessity for improvising to create an acceptable meal: trading questionable pizza toppings and piling soft serve ice cream atop a mountain of Belgian waffles. While a color printer has replaced the soft serve machine that made for many-a-fun Letchworth dinner, the reconstructed dining hall has new memories in store for underclassmen––hopefully with a tastier culinary backdrop.

The Max Market section of Letchworth, affectionately known as “Down Letch,” seems to fit the bill. The market area has extensive floor space for accommodating the long lines that are likely to assemble in coming weeks. It also has an impressive selection of grab-and-go grocery items that makes the options available elsewhere on campus look puny.

Four food stations enclose the perimeter of Max Market: Smokehouse Grill which serves burgers and grilled chicken, Butcher Block Deli offering classic subs and soup, Woodstone Oven serving pizza from a flaming oven and, by far the most compelling addition, Maxine’s, which offers lattes and pastries.

The lack of a Mexican food station looms over the room like a dark cloud. It’s also a bit off-putting that a space that is so much larger than Fusion Market has the same number of food stations. Campus Auxiliary Services was clearly looking to appease students’ cravings for inoffensive all-American food when it designed the Max Market offerings. The options are a bit slim, but viewing Max Market in the context of the entire campus, it’s well-balanced by Fusion Market’s more adventurous cuisine.

I chose a black bean veggie burger from the grill station as my first nouveau Letch meal. Although I paid over $15 for the burger, a side of semi-soggy fries (which can be replaced with slightly cheaper pickled veggies) and a large fountain drink, what I ate was pretty delicious. The burger was flavorful and felt homemade and healthy, making it an excellent option among the relatively limited vegetarian items at Max Market.

For dessert, Maxine’s is a gem of CAS perfection. Not only does it offer some beautifully blended coffee drinks, it also features an enormous selection of dessert items. After I resisted trying every single offering, I sampled the monkey bread, a mini key lime pie, a raspberry cheesecake brownie and a samoa cupcake––all of them were under $3. I hope that CAS will maintain the awesome quality and selection of this Max Market station.

While it’s unfortunate that the kitchens catering exclusively to gluten-free, vegetarian and kosher students are located upstairs past the barrier of an all-you-can-eat price, Max Market seems highly successful in its first days of business. It’s clear that this renovation has given CAS the opportunity to expand its dining options to reflect student tastes and needs.