New Trier’s Cafeteria Food, Reviewed by an Esteemed Dining Critic


This review was written by the dining critic for Cuisine Quarterly, who remains anonymous to maintain her ability to conduct undercover investigations. It was reprinted without Cuisine Quarterly’s permission. Sorry!

In my efforts to document the culinary arts of North America, I have eaten in every establishment imaginable: candlelit restaurants; greasy diners; the homes of esteemed chefs. Until last month, however, I had yet to sample the offerings of the greatest of all dining institutions: the school cafeteria.

With my curiosity piqued, I chose to bring my impeccable tastebuds to New Trier High School. At 1:30 pm, EDT ⁠— regardless of where I am, I always set my clock to New York’s Chez Condescenz ⁠— I took a second to look around and observe the students the way one might examine a beekeeping suit for any holes. I mentally prepared myself for the lunch line and strode over to the magical holding cell of the renowned food. I started my meal, ordering a slice of pizza at the counter. It was beautifully presented with an exotic melted cheese glop as a garnish and a tiny chunk of mango that had slid over from another bin. As soon as I sank my teeth into the somewhat stale but also perfectly cooked slice, my tastebuds experienced a rollercoaster of emotion starting with denial and moving on to anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Tres exquisite! Once I finished the delectable slice, I went on to the curly fries. 

The fries came in a small boat, embellished with a glimmering ruby cross hatching, and I wondered if it would really float if put to the test. So, I waddled up to the food counter and asked the very tall man for some gourmet ketchup and mustard in those little packets that so obviously scream fine dining. I went back to my table, on which I had placed a small “Reserved” sign so that none of the other sophisticated restaurant-goers might try to steal my spot. On the first bite, I tasted the symphony of spices used in the fries. It seemed like the chef had taken all of the spices out of the cabinet and dumped them into one very large heap on top of the extremely al dente potato pieces. Although in concept it sounds revolting in every way imaginable to humankind, this chef obviously knew what he was doing because each spice complimented another in a way unparalleled to anything I had ever tasted before.

For my third and final dish, I decided to try a dessert. I settled on the brownie, which was about the size of a very large speck of dust. Perhaps the highlight of my entire visit: it came wrapped in extraordinarily high quality cellophane (the kind every plastic magnate covets). After experiencing the flawless preparation of the other courses, I knew this brownie would be exquisite. I was, in fact, proven right when I took the first nibble of the giant chocolate square. The texture would be best described by one word: sponge. Some might say it was awful, but my taste buds said otherwise. I had yet to experience such a fine establishment, and the setting made it infinitely better. I mean, a school?! How creative! The man who decided to start this restaurant deserves three Michelin stars in my book. This raised a question in my mind: why wasn’t there a thousand-mile-long line of desperate foodies scrambling to taste the mouthwatering menu in this eatery?