I have spent many a daydream imagining the Daniel Family Commons. In my mind, this venue, that is frequented by Wesleyan professors and their invited students, has always seemed coveted, exclusive, and highly mysterious. I imagined a golden spiral staircase hidden in the depths of the Usdan University Center. The higher you climbed it, the brighter it became, until you were covered in a cloud of light. A classical string courtet would be playing in the corner. Pink azaelias would sit in elegant glass vases, with waiters in tails constantly nourishing them with fresh spring water. and then you entered the dining room,. The most elite of socialites (the Wesleyan faculty), would be dining on caviar and filet mignon, and discussing the latest in stem cell research, or medieval French literature, or the intricacies of the brain.

Well, today for the first time, my dreams of eating at the Daniel Family Commons became reality, thanks to my Italian professor Ellen Nerenberg. At approximately 12:01, Alex and I stepped into the lobby, ready to experience the magic of Bon Appetit’s faculty dining.

Although it didn’t quite meet my extravagent expectations, the DFC has a very pleasant atmosphere. The big windows fill the room with sunlight, and provide a wonderful view of campus. Upon walking in, the first area that one enters is the lobby, which contains several lounge chairs, as well as a counter where you can check in. The main dining room is significantly smaller than the student dining hall. The tables are covered in white table cloths, and silver water pitchers with glass cups grace each surface. Rather than the plastic chairs in Usdan, the DFC boasts wooden chairs. The floor is covered in a rug, and artwork hangs on the walls.

 

The “floor”, where the food is located,  is also much less large than ours. Two small counters hold all of the dishes, which include one vegan protein, one meat dish, several sides, a small salad bar, two kinds of soup, and a variety of fruits and desserts.

 

The main course options seemed fairly similar to Usdan, with marinated seitan and a chicken dish, potaotes, cabbage, and broccoli. The salad bar  also had similar features, but was much smaller, and the two soups were the same kinds that the marketplace has. Differences included the presence of small yogurt parfaits, and a variety of fruit options, including grapes, strawberries, and fruit salad. Additionally, the desserts were a little nicer, with a full red velvet cake, red velvet cupcakes, a few kinds of cookies, and a cake-like item filled with raspberry cream and covered in chocolate. They did not have ice cream or frozen yogurt, nor did they have a kosher, gluten free options, or sandwich line. Instead, they had two sandwich specials, both of which were displayed on plates, covered in seran wrap. Rather than a drink machine, beverages were presented in silver pitchers, and included water, iced tea, lemonade, and a sweetened chai that was especially delicious. Coffee and hot tea were also available.

Overall, the main differences between the Daniel Family Commons and the Usdan Market Place were in presentation and quantity. The plates were a bit larger, and were a somewhat modern, square shape, the cups were made of glass, and the cultlery wasmore elegant. Once you were done eating, a server would come and clear your plate. The food was of similar quality, but the DFC had less options.

If you have the opportunity to go to the Daniel Family Commons, I would highly recommend it. It’s a fun break from the usual, and the beautiful presentation makes the experience sophisticated and classy, not to mention that talking to professors can be very interesting.

So, perhaps it did not add up to my dillusions of grandeur, but the DFC is pretty fun. Go for a classy (free) meal, a fascinating conversation, and the ability to say “Oh, the Daniel Family Commons? I’ve been there”.

-Ari