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New eateries revive on-Grounds dining

A review of Za’atar, Rookie’s and the West Range Late Night Breakfast menu

Behind Old Dorms, what was formerly known as The Castle has been rebranded as Za’atar at The Castle.
Behind Old Dorms, what was formerly known as The Castle has been rebranded as Za’atar at The Castle.

Several new on-Grounds eateries have opened up to replace old ones this semester, while others have refreshed their menus. I decided to try out Za’atar, Rookie’s, and West Range Cafe’s Late Night Breakfast menu. Za’atar is a great spot for lunch or dinner, Rookie’s is perfect for a sweet treat — but not for brain-boosting foods — and West Range’s Late Night menu is decent if you have no problem with the wait.


Behind Old Dorms, what was formerly known as The Castle has been rebranded as Za’atar at The Castle. Za’atar retains the foundation of its predecessor’s menu but infuses it with a new Middle Eastern character. For my lunch, I ordered a bowl of Za’atar seasoned rice and chicken shawarma. It was topped with tabbouleh, cucumber and tomato salad, hummus, feta cheese crumbles and crispy chickpeas. A drizzle of lemon tahini sauce and tzatziki added the final touch.

As a former frequenter of The Castle, I hoped the new menu at Za’atar would beat out the old, and I can gladly say that it did. The rice was softer than the sometimes crispy rice at The Castle. The chicken shawarma was done well, cut into thick, tender slices and seasoned just enough to be tasty but not too much for someone who can’t handle spicy food. 

The toppings were well-blended throughout the bowl. There was perhaps a touch too much sauce, but the portion was generous enough that with some mixing of the rice and the other ingredients, the mix was far from drowning in tzatziki. For those eager to try out the new menu, Za’atar is open Monday through Friday, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.


Situated at the mural-adorned entrance to Brown Library in Clark Hall is the eatery I was most excited to try — Rookie’s. In the corner formerly occupied by Greenberry’s Coffee, which was moved to Wilsdorf Hall, Rookie’s boasts an array of ice cream flavors and warm cookies. Its classic black-and-white interior imbues the space with a retro vibe. Coupled with a profusion of leafy green plants, a felt letter board and upbeat music, the spot feels like an uplifting and relaxing respite from the intense quietness of the study spaces in Clark — a reminder to any student that it’s okay to take an ice cream break.

For those who took advantage of Greenberry’s coffee and to-go salad boxes to propel them through study sessions, fear not. Rookie’s offers coffee options from a cappuccino to an affogato, a single espresso shot over ice cream. And if you’re wondering why the library café would only offer ice cream — after all, it's not the best brain fuel — don’t stress about it. Rookie’s also has some nutritious grab-and-go salads and bowls. However, only two of those were available on Grubhub when I visited. 

As for dessert, customers can choose from a variety of frozen dessert varieties and of course, cookies. I thought the coolest option was the cookie skillet — a cookie baked in a small pan topped with ice cream – or three cookies with milk. There are gluten-free and vegan choices, and visitors can also purchase packs of cookies to bring home to roommates.

For my dessert, I ordered a half ice cream sandwich made of chocolate chip cookies and a scoop of lavender ice cream. While I was prepared to cringe at an oversaturated flavor, the lavender ice cream was delicious. The cookies were yummy and soft despite the coolness of the sandwich. 

I advise customers to eat quickly to avoid the lavender-soaked cookies that I got, but even then, they were tasty. I will return to Rookie’s the next time I crave a sweet treat, and the only change I’ll make to my order will be to ask for a full ice cream sandwich instead of a half — the half-cookies can’t quite support the weight of a full scoop. Rookie’s is open Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Late Night at West Range Cafe

Lastly, I tried the new Late Night Breakfast menu at West Range Cafe, the hidden eatery on the first floor of Hotel E where the Lawn rooms meet Garrett Hall. The Late Night Breakfast menu appears on Grubhub at 7 p.m. and though I chose and placed my order for French toast with Nutella and strawberries within two minutes, I found myself far behind those who had already planned theirs. I was thrown into number 35 in line, and my food was ready at 7:36 p.m. 

I found my food to be relatively satisfying, but it didn’t quite hit the spot. The two thick slices of French toast are topped with cut strawberries which spill onto the bread, and between the slices is a layer of Nutella. While the French toast seemed to contain all of the ingredients of a perfect breakfast for dinner, I found it lacking. Perhaps this is because I went home before eating it to avoid walking in the dark, and the meal lost some freshness, or maybe the recipe needs altering. Somehow I found that, despite the toppings, I wished it were sweeter.

Nevertheless, I plan on returning to West Range for Late Night Breakfast and finding something I prefer from their other intriguing options like the Bacon Egg and Cheese Biscuit, or the Flap Jack Sandwich. West Range is open Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

While Za’atar and the Late Night menu may not be a step up for those without a meal plan, they’re good options for those who do have one, and everyone should stop by Rookie’s for a scoop. Za’atar and West Range offer options for flex dollars and meal exchange, and Rookie’s can be purchased with flex dollars.


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