A first-year’s date with history

Dome Room dinners welcome students to U.Va.


The atmosphere of the dinner was one of welcome and tradition.

Emma Lewis | Cavalier Daily

The first few weeks of first year are full of countless opportunities. It can be a little overwhelming, but the one experience that will always stick out to me is the Rotunda Dome Room Dinner each first-year dorm has the opportunity to attend.

After weeks of dining hall food, the prospect of a formally prepared meal was too tempting to pass up. The promise of salmon and cornbread stuffed chicken had me daydreaming all day in my classes about finally eating a deliciously cooked meal. The venue of the dinner offered an equal amount of excitement.

The dinner was a formal event, and the sight of everyone from my dorm all dressed up was a change of pace from the usual jeans and t-shirt college student uniform. The Rotunda’s Dome Room was transformed into a formal dining area with tables dressed just as nicely as the students sitting at them. Off to the edge of the room, the tantalizing aroma of the feast emanated from under the buffet lids.

At promptly 6:30 p.m., the buffet trays were lifted and the food underneath looked just as good as the scent smelled. After getting as much delicious food as my plate could hold, it was time to dig in.

I had gotten the salmon, cooked vegetables, salad and rolls. The salmon was cooked to perfection with a citrus lime sauce that added even more flavor to the fish. The cooked vegetables included zucchini and yellow squash that paired nicely with the salmon. The salad was comprised of mixed greens, pears and the best sugar-coated pecans I have ever tasted. The main event of the dinner, however, was the rolls. Warm and soft, with little butter balls, the rolls were a delicacy not found anywhere else on Grounds.

After finishing the delicious meal and feeling stuffed to the brim with rolls, the dessert trays were opened revealing a Bananas Foster brownie sundae. The smell of the cinnamon-coated bananas and warm brownies was even more enticing than the meal before. Somehow finding space in my stomach, I cleaned my plate and was ready for more. I don’t typically like cooked bananas, but the warm cinnamon syrup coating them paired with melty vanilla ice cream and a dense chocolate brownie could not have made a better combination.

The experience of eating in the Rotunda is one that should not be missed. The atmosphere of the dinner was one of welcome and tradition. Eating tasty food and chatting with other residents of my dorm was a great way to foster new friendships. There were also many different guest speakers — including then Student Council President Emily Lodge and our Senior Resident Kathryn Johnson — who welcomed us into the University’s fold. The a cappella group “Hoos in the Stairwell” also gave a performance to enjoy while we ate.

The Rotunda is one of the most iconic and traditional buildings at the University. The experience of getting to eat a formal meal with my peers at this historic site is unlikely to come again, and made me feel a part of the history and traditions most valued at the University. It was a great way to start off my first year, and the food provided did not disappoint. Other dorms or groups that have the chance to attend should not pass up this opportunity. 

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