St. Olaf’s two dining establishments may be equally patronized, but they’re far from equally respected.
The Cage and the Caf occupy different places in all of our hearts, but recently I’ve noticed a particularly acute uptick in anti-Caf rhetoric among my friends and peers, which is largely unwarranted. I’m not sure if people are getting harsher as the end-of-year pressures mount and coffers of Flex Dollars run dry, but as a former patron of the much-maligned 21 meal plan, I believe most students fail to see the true value of the Caf.
First and foremost, the food isn’t bad and it never has been. Breakfasts leave almost nothing to the imagination, with a plethora of options that most wouldn’t have, even at home. Lunches and dinners have had their home line misses, sure, but the average quality of our cuisine choices there has only risen over the last two years as supply chain issues have been resolved and staff has been redistributed. Additionally, the recent frequency of visit days on campus has pushed the Bon Appétit chefs to up their game even further, with exciting offerings like mac & cheese and buffalo wings still fresh in my memory.
The second main draw of the Caf is its reliability. The Cage costs real money, and it’s often difficult to stretch a limited amount of Flex Dollars out across an entire semester. The Caf, however, is always an option if you plan your meal swipes efficiently. The Cage is like a drug — usually fine in moderation, but if you become reliant on it, you’ll eventually have to return to the sobriety of the Caf.
All of this isn’t to say that the Cage is bad— but that’s far from the case. I’ll often stop by for a smoothie, donut, or wrap, and I’ve always been thoroughly happy with the meals I’ve gotten there. What’s irksome is that many students act like the Cage is the end-all-be-all of on-campus dining, but it isn’t without its own problems: wait times are often long at peak hours, and many drinks end up being about 40 percent ice. It’s important to acknowledge that the Cage and the Caf each have their strengths and weaknesses, but ultimately both share the same level of quality: pretty good.
Frankie Munson is from Slater, Iowa.
His majors are music and quantitative economics.