Open Kitchen Hacks: A Guide to the Orchard Commons Dining Hall

The Orchard Commons dining hall, also known as Open Kitchen, is undoubtedly one of, if not the, most hyped-up residence cafeterias on campus, surpassing its competitors in terms of novelty and variety. Open Kitchen is composed of 6 main sections, including: Square Meal Kitchen, Custom Kitchen, Vegetarian Kitchen, Al Forno Kitchen, Global Bowl, and Sandwich Kitchen. As we reach the end of second semester, the seasoned residents of Orchard Commons’ Winter 2017 session have some tips to offer that’s guaranteed to spice up your next visit.

1. Al Forno Kitchen serves grilled chicken breasts! Although it’s not on the official menu, residents have been ordering simple grilled chicken breast so often that they have devised a new rule so that you have to pay and bring your receipt back to the kitchen to retrieve your order. The grilled chicken breast is perfect as itself for bulking season, with Al Forno’s signature garden greens salad, or put into a brioche bun for a healthier alternative to their chicken strip burger. Even better, Al Forno is the only kitchen to offer service from opening hour until late into the night at 10pm!


2. College is a time for making grown-up decisions, such as debating between getting 10 extra minutes of sleep in your fluffy blankets or devouring the fluffier blueberry pancakes (whip cream and blueberry sauce made in-house!) that the Orchard cafe has. The Vegetarian Kitchen is open in the morning to serve delicious strawberry-banana smoothie bowls, overnight apple cinnamon oatmeal, and avocado toast. The options don’t stop there; Al Forno boasts wonderful breakfast samosas, quesadillas, and much more. If you’re still debating between sleep and hecking great breakfast food, the Al Forno Kitchen’s breakfast menu stretches into 11:30 on weekends so you can get the best of both worlds.

3. The soft-serve machine in Orchard is everyone’s guilty pleasure. Although the flavours rotate, the most popular is the matcha green tea soft serve, which you can pair with oreo crumbs or mini maltesers toppings. Surveyed residents have rated the matcha soft serve favourably: “authentic, I think,” “perfect amount of bitterness for exam season,” and “my summer-body diet is thrown off track because of it.”

Photo from @ubcfoodie on Instagram

4. It’s past 9pm and you’re dying to ignore your mom’s advice about not eating when it’s late. All your regular go-to stations in the Orchard caf are closed. You really don’t want to make the 15 minute trek to the McDonald’s in the village (y’all weak), and you’re not up to cash out for your hundredth Domino’s pasta (pasta or pizza? Who orders pasta from Dominos smh) of the school year. Fear not! Grab a fried egg from Al Forno, some sliced bread and butter for the toaster, and fresh avocado from the fruit baskets. This avocado and egg sandwich is a game-changer for the hungry and deprived college student (just don’t tweet it to Gordon Ramsay).

Despite its stale daily menus, Orchard Open Kitchen can be a miraculous place for creative adventurers if you seek it. These five tips are here to start you off, but feel free (or not really, since the cafeteria is quite pricey) to explore your options!

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