Birch Grill: A review

by Sebastian Moronta Blanco, Staff Writer

Last semester, just before finals, the dining halls were flooded with talk of the new meal plan system to be implemented in the fall.

We didn’t truly see how different it would be until the past few weeks. For the freshmen who didn’t know what our meal plans were last year, let’s just say it was a little different.

Now that the new system has settled in, the most drastic changes came to Birch Grill. I’d say for the better.

For those who don’t remember, or weren’t enrolled, Birch Grill in past years has offered some of the best food available on campus at the cost of your time, your dwindling Corsair cash, and your personal space. The consistent satisfaction one could receive from a wrap or a burger was often worth the six or seven bucks (if you caught Birch at a non-meal swipe hour).

If you did manage to get there when meal swipes were in effect, you were most likely standing in a line thirty people deep, bumping and moving about the crowded eating area.

Luckily, Birch has made some sweeping changes to try and make a student’s visit a little less stressful, and a whole lot tastier.

The biggest change is Birch’s meal swipe acceptance. Swipes are now accepted from 1:30 – 9 p.m. without any breaks in between. Furthermore, anything on the menu at nine dollars or less is now eligible for use of a meal swipe. That includes the hot food items like sandwiches and wraps, as well as any snacks, drinks, and candy.

This means that a swipe could get you a burger, drink and fries, or four cartons of milk, for those who like to have cereal in their dorms in the mornings.

That nine dollars has never felt so fluffy with the price cuts Birch appears to have implemented. Every main meal item, with the exception of the five-piece chicken, is sitting pretty at under six dollars, and even the chicken has a three-piece option for only $5.29. Appetizers seem to be about the same prices as last year, hovering around four or five dollars.

Pro tip for cheese lovers: an order of grilled cheese, mozzarella sticks and a drink would only run the bill up to about eight bucks, well under the meal swipe maximum.

The menu itself has gotten a bit longer, with the addition of combos and entirely new items. One can now build their own burger, choosing from the menu’s long list of breads, cheeses, toppings and sauces.

For those who’d like the burger without the beef, the customization doesn’t stop there. Burgers can be swapped out for grilled chicken, turkey (slices or a turkey burger patty), as well as two vegetarian options with the “vegan veggie” and “spicy black bean” options as well. Notable additions to the toppings include fried egg, Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo Sauce, nut-free pesto, and fan-favorite chipotle mayo.

Sonos is no longer the only permanent Mexican food vendor on campus, as Birch now offers quesadillas and burritos, with rice and beans available as a side.

Birch has implemented non-menu changes as well, moving the line to the other half of the eatery and removing the booths that sat along the wall. The booths have been replaced with tables, and all together creates more space and opens up the room. Moving the line also keep the main eating area less crowded (until the lines start backing up, of course).

Other small improvements include: signs indicating where to pick up items, moving the registers to the opposite wall, and small printed menus in a pamphlet holder by the line.

I’ve eaten at Birch three times since the school year started, twice around lunch time and once around dinner, all on weekdays. Only on the night I went for dinner did I encounter some truly bulky lines.

Typically, Birch will always have a lengthy line. As long as the menu keeps looking this good, and the meal swipes stay active, we can expect to see the same wait times throughout the year.


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