The ultimate showdown in the eyes of a first year: Croads vs. The Castle

Which is the more edible option?

croads-li-elisekim

Crossroads is located on the first floor of O'Hill and is frequented by first-year students. 

Elise Kim | Cavalier Daily

Let’s enter the mind of a naive first-year. Those 1 a.m. munchies hit. You’re sitting in your dorm room, but the warm, fluorescent glow from Crossroads innocently beckons you from the wallows of your books and piles of papers. It’s terribly hard to resist the temptation of half-defrosted chicken tenders accompanied by some packaged honey mustard, a good-old Chipotle wanna-be or the appealing visual of those worm-like noodles swimming in a bath of liquid before being transferred to your bowl of spaghetti.

Come 1 p.m. the next day, and you’re feeling guilty over that late-night indulgence — if you can call it that. To compensate, you venture towards a supposedly healthier option –– The Castle. You have to restart your order a good four or five times because you keep forgetting that you can’t remove selections once they’ve been added to your bowl. The quinoa is nice and cold, bitter and flavorless. As per usual, there’s always one topping missing, but the extra splat of tzatziki on top of the rock-hard falafel somewhat makes up for it.

When it comes to either of these options, I suppose I’m being a bit critical. Hailing from a household with daily doses of heartwarming home-cooked meals, Croads and The Castle were a harsh wake-up call. However, now that we are all evidently trapped between these two first-year staples, let’s take a further look at each in order to crown a lesser of the two evils.

In terms of health, The Castle clearly outdoes Croads, as is suggested by The Castle’s motto — “Live simply, eat joyfully and savor tastes that inspire the mind.” I’m not so sure about the optimism of this quote, but The Castle definitely deserves some commendation for its attempts at adapting to society’s current healthy-food trends.

The greens selection isn’t half bad, and I must grudgingly admit that more often than not, the paninis are usually quite edible, regardless of what students choose to throw in there. Pro tip — if you’re craving a burrito beyond the freshness of Croads, order a panini with a tortilla base. The fillings are definitely fresher than anything you’d get at Croads. 

Moving onto the next category — the ability to satisfy general cravings. By default, Croads gets this one. Most people don’t wake up in the morning thinking, “Wow! I’m really craving a salad today.” If you do, mad props to you, but the majority of us have cravings for various assortments of sweets, fried foods and essentially anything that is not beneficial to your gut.

Croads offers some of the unhealthiest of delicacies –– burritos, burrito bowls, pasta and breadsticks, pizza, cheeseburgers and grilled cheeses stock Burrito Theory, Society Pies and Grille Works. These options are not fine dining, but aside from the slight inedibility of the breadsticks, they will definitely satisfy your cravings.

If you are not craving savory foods, Croads is also home to 1819 Supply, which is essentially a first-year’s source for chips and candy galore. Say goodbye to those plus dollars as you watch your stash fill up with Doritos, Chips Ahoy and Pop-Tarts, among a multitude of other options. In this aspect, Croads also serves a more versatile purpose, offering much more than The Castle’s limited three options.

As a first-year, it’s only right to somehow give rest to this competition of Croads versus The Castle. I cannot lie and say that I have frequented either of these places as often as the average first-year does. My prejudice towards frozen fast food and skepticism of the origins of the food available at both places inhibit me from succumbing to the easy access of what they have to offer. 

However, as promised, I have prepared a final declaration after much careful deliberation. 

While both have their pros and cons, there is one option that best meets the overall needs of first-year students — Croads. Maintaining a healthy diet is obviously the optimal objective, but sometimes, some comfort food at Croads is just what a stressed-out first-year needs.

Additionally, Croads actually offers healthy snack options in the section of shelves across from Burrito Theory. From nut butter and fruits from the refrigerated section of Croads to sprouted crackers, healthy alternatives are definitely possible amid the fried mediocre food of Croads to help satisfy those 1 a.m. cravings.

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