Dining alternatives

Janet White, middle left, from Montecello, Ill., has lunch with Pat Belton, middle right, an Urbana resident, at the Beckman Cafe on the first floor of the Beckman Institute Tuesday afternoon. Carol Matteucci

Janet White, middle left, from Montecello, Ill., has lunch with Pat Belton, middle right, an Urbana resident, at the Beckman Cafe on the first floor of the Beckman Institute Tuesday afternoon. Carol Matteucci

By Megan Loiselle

For people tired of the same old grind in the dining halls, on Green Street or in the Union, there are many alternatives on campus to please their palates.

Red Herring Vegetarian Restaurant, 1209 W. Oregon St., is one of many dining options outside the norm that students have when eating lunch on campus. The restaurant is open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. Also, on Friday the restaurant serves dinner from 5:30 to 8 p.m.

The menu includes three sandwiches, a different entree every day and several soups. The options range from falafel to lasagna to the daily hummus and black bean sandwiches.

“Our cornbread is very popular,” manager Katie Martell said, adding that they make various baked goods as well.

Martell said about 60 percent of the ingredients used are high-quality organic foods.

Everything served is vegan, which means it contains no animal products, including meat, fish, seafood, eggs and dairy items.

“The food is not heavy and greasy,” Martell said. “Most of the regulars are not vegetarian, but they want to eat healthy.”

Red Herring is a non-profit restaurant that relies on volunteers. Martell said she is looking for more people to volunteer.

“An average lunch is about $4 to $5,” Martell said. “It’s good to support non-profit (organizations) and we have really good food.”

Money made by the restaurant goes to the Channing-Murray Foundation, a campus ministry for Unitarian Universalists.

The decor of Red Herring is unique and colorful. Newspaper clippings and posters decorate the walls.

“I wish there were more places like this, with natural and ethnic foods,” said graduate student Christina Khan.

Khan said she just arrived on campus this past week, but previously she would eat lunch at Red Herring once or twice a week.

Although Khan said she is not a vegetarian, she “eats a lot of vegetarian food.”

What differentiates Red Herring from other restaurants, Khan said, is its ethnic foods, close location and healthy food choices.

“They use different spices,” Khan said. “It’s more interesting (than other places to eat). There’s a lot of good things about it.”

At the Beckman Institute, 405 N. Matthews Ave., a cafe is open in its atrium from Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. In the morning, a continental breakfast includes freshly made pastries and coffees. Every day the hot lunch menu includes a meat-based and a meatless entree and soup. The cafe also serves salads and bottled water.

“Because we are located on the north side of campus, it is convenient for engineers,” said manager Chris Mechling.

The menu for the month is available online on the Beckman Institute’s Web site.

“It’s a lovely place,” Mechling said. “We love for (people outside Beckman) to come.”

For the past 50 years, students in hospitality management and dietetics have been running a cafeteria in Bevier Hall, a required class for their majors.

Once students enroll in FSHN 340, Food Production and Service, they take control over preparing the food and serving the customers in the cafe. The students rotate through different workstations in either management or food service.

“The class is learning how to run a business,” Beth Reutter, teaching associate in hospitality management. “They have to be breaking even or making a profit.”

Teaching assistants in the class use skills they learned in a purchasing class to purchase all of the products, but not through the University.

“The students must have the line ready by 11:27 a.m. because the doors open at 11:30 a.m.,” Reutter said.

“Haute Grandma Cuisine” is served Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Beverages are served from 8:30 to 11 a.m.

The cafe’s quiet and open atmosphere differs from the crowded dining halls. Also, each table is decorated with a tablecloth and a flower.

The cost of an entree ranges from $3.25 to $3.75, with all other items available a la carte. The students also make daily special salads, large cookies and other desserts, and hot or cold sandwiches.

Reutter said the public should have lunch at the Bevier Cafe because they serve healthy portions and everything is made from scratch.

“I encourage people to come in to support the students,” Reutter said. “The meals are less expensive than a comparative meal elsewhere,” Reutter said.

The Bevier Cafe is located at 298 Bevier Hall on the corner of Goodwin and Gregory avenues.