WIAW: Mercato Café

From sandwich bar to a variety of soups, wood fire pizza ovens to fresh baked healthier pasties, I’m definitely in a cafeteria catered toward food and nutrition students. How often do you find fresh smoothies or sushi in a dining pavilion? I suppose this only makes sense since Brescia is home to one of the few (and best) dietetic programs in Ontario.IMG_7844 IMG_8139

What I love about the cafeteria is that it is designed so that you are bombarded with fresh options as soon as you enter the cafeteria. The less healthy options are on the outer corners of the perimeter and tucked away from plain eyesight. What I don’t like is that those options are still cheaper than many of the fruits and vegetables, however nutrition is definitely worth my penny and I have to spend my meal card right? Not is it nutritionally beneficial to buy an apple, but you obtain “stamps” after purchasing fruit which add up towards free fruit.IMG_8056 IMG_8171 IMG_8105 IMG_8071Filled with a selection of typical fruits and vegetables, the salad bar is my favourite part of the Mercato Café within my residence. For a base of my salad I usually use quinoa or argula but they also offer romaine, spinach, mixed greens, bulgur wheat and even wild rice. I normally add plain tofu, lentils or tuna for my protein but others might prefer their hardboiled eggs, kidney beans, chickpeas, bacon, ham, chicken or shaved turkey. There is quite the selection of fresh premade salads such as potato, cucumber and tomato, greek pasta, macaroni and tuna, rice and lentils, coleslaw, almond apple, couscous and vegetables or even a Mexican corn and bean, but a lot of them aren’t guaranteed to be nut free. That’s okay though because within their selection of vegetables they typically have olives, golden beets, mushrooms, and pickles which allow me enough variety. For topings there are “superfoods” such as goji berries, pumpkin seeds (which I cannot have), chia seeds and flaxseeds not to mention dates, raisins and dried apricots for some natural sugars.

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If I am not eating at the salad, I tend to lean towards the soups, my preferences being the sweet potato soup, carrot ginger and apple parsnip.  I was adventurous and tried a Portobello quinoa burger which was a bit bland, but the side of sweet potato fries really hit the spot.IMG_7848 IMG_8102 IMG_8123

 There is always a “home cooked dinner” option which I’ve never tried but does look good. It is composed of a protein (usually chicken or roast beef, occasionally salmon), vegetable (green beans or broccoli/cauliflower/carrot mix) and starch (potatoes of some form). I always go for the Global Cooking Bar, which they prepare in wok’s in front of you which gives you more control of what goes into your meal. I enjoy the stir fry (tofu, chicken or beef over rice noodles, rice, egg noodles or quinoa), seafood soup (mussels, halibut and shrimp in a tomato broth), taco bowl (chicken, beef or bean in a whole wheat tortilla with vegetables, fresh cilantro, sour cream, homemade salsa and guacamole) but I’ve seen Macaroni Bar or Homemade Pizza bar as well.1373026_343724812429970_961238998_n1376063_343724805763304_1196948331_nIMG_7770 IMG_8147 IMG_8055 IMG_8028

The dining pavilion is great at accommodating allergies, intolerances and preferences by providing nut, gluten and meat-free dishes. They usually have a warm vegetarian dish such as ratatouille and baked tofu for each meal and not only is a salad offered in replace of a bun  (i.e. Chicken breast on Caesar/Greek salad) but there are gluten-free breads as well. IMG_8126IMG_7847

Breakfasts are also quite good although I’ve been cutting costs by making this meal in my room. I have tried their crock-pot oatmeal once which was unreal and I’ve also heard they have quinoa, home fries, hash browns, breakfast sandwiches, bacon, eggs and omelets bar.IMG_7754 IMG_7753 IMG_7756

There is always yogurt, whole fruit, cereal, toast, bagels, muffins and cookies if you are just wanting a quick snack, or if you wanted more typical cafeteria food there are burgers and fries, pizza and pre-made sandwiches for convenience. For the most part the café is fresh, but there is a selection of candy, chips, pop and ice cream novelties. They can’t expect the entire residence to want to eat broccoli pizza so it is thoughtful to make more traditional takes on pizza too.

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So while this isn’t a standard WIAW post, I hope it gives you a feel about what Brescia’s new cafeteria is all about. I do miss home cooked meals seeing as eating in a dining pavilion feels like I’m “eating out” and spending money that I could be saving if I purchased items in bulk. Regardless it is definitely convenient and I don’t think I would have time to balance school and healthy eating if I had to cook. I feel that there is enough options to suit a variety of needs and wants, but not too much that it overwhelms me. Did I mention I can use my meal card at our school’s Starbucks Kiosk? I’ll save that for another post. Happy Wednesday!  ♥ Molly

“Human beings do not eat nutrients, they eat food.” – Mary Catherine Bateson

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12 thoughts on “WIAW: Mercato Café

  1. This is amazing. More schools need to jump on this bandwagon. The food at McGill was terrible. The rez food was the furthest from healthy and our cafeteria offered pre-made sandwiches, pizza pizza and tim hortons. Not ideal at all. Fortunately I liked to cook but for people who don’t they weren’t given much of an option to eat healthy!

    • Main Campus (Western) does allow their students to use their meal cards off campus at restaurants which is nice, but I also think that promotes them eating at places such as Manchu Wok, Tim Hortons and Harveys (In the University Campus Centre on Main Campus) more than Affiliate colleges (Brescia, Huron, Kings) since we have to load flex dollars. There are definitely pre-made and unhealthier options but it’s lucky that there are great alternatives for people who want them. That’s too bad that you weren’t given a healthy option. I don’t think I would’ve/ could’ve survived!

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