university college

40 College Crescent, Parkville 3052
(03) 9347 3533
www.unicol.unimelb.edu.au

AKA the worst meal ever conceived

Eggplant Goujon with Noodle Salad

I thought that it would be apt for my first review to be the reason why I eat out almost every day. Behold: college vegetarian food. Don’t let the light-filled colourful photo fool you, this is the most bland, unhealthy food known to man. To clarify, this “eggplant goujon with noodle salad” is college food on a good day. It is almost always a tomato-based curry containing nothing but vegetables that no one eats (does anyone actually like squash?) with a fancy name to disguise the fact that it’s the same thing every day. Gado gado, hot pot, vegetable medley, non-specific French name: they’re all exactly the same. Sometimes if we’re lucky, the rice will be neon yellow and referred to as saffron rice. However, if the chefs are feeling particularly lazy one day, the vego meal is just the salad that is available to everyone every day.

So I was almost delighted by the sight of this meal, which was literally slices of eggplant covered in oil and anonymous spices, served curiously with herbed aioli and a side of plastic-tasting noodles tossed in a mushroom and lettuce salad. However, as soon as I sampled what was supposed to be the vegetarian equivalent of fish goujons, I recoiled in horror. The eggplant’s taste and texture was immediately all too familiar; having just recovered from a cold, I instantly recognised what resembled phlegm. The herbed aioli helped to mask the lack of flavour but made the texture so much worse. Somehow, the chefs seemed to believe that it would be a good idea to soak the eggplant in oil, making a meal that would otherwise be almost nutritious, completely devoid of such a luxury. Protein is not in the chef’s vocabulary here. Carbohydrates most certainly are.

As for atmosphere, it feels strangely like the cafeteria at a school camp. Everyone sits in their individual cliques, complaining about the food but eating it regardless and talking about the previous night’s shenanigans. The dining hall, unlike most colleges, is casual and airy, filled with sunlight and the smell of instant coffee. Depending on the time of the day, food is either served buffet-style from the salad bar or served to you directly in the kitchen after lining up for upwards of thirty minutes.

While such a meal costs $20 000 a year in college fees for me, it is a cool $5 for outsiders to have one meal. It is easily available to me for obvious reasons, but unless you have friends at college, you would have to be insane to make the journey here purely for your daily dose of ambiguous curry. Overall, college food is hell for a vegetarian and should be avoided at all costs. However, as a side note, Sunday brunch is the best thing in the world and highly recommended. Pastries, cereal, waffles, pancakes, eggs, cooked tomato and mushrooms are served every week and, if you can look past the damage to your arteries, it’s great value.

  • Taste: 1/10
  • Nutrition: 2/10
  • Atmosphere: 6/10
  • Cost: 8/10
  • Convenience: 2/10
  • Overall: 19/50

Conclusion: Below average. Probably not worth it.

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3 comments
  1. That’s a shame, it looks like it would taste really good, and I love eggplant (aubergine!) At my university they provide kitchens!

    • College has changed my perception of eggplant. I can never look at it the same way!

  2. Cheryl Brown said:

    Haha I go to uni with this girl and it really is bad. Eggplant isn’t a meal by itself! (sorry kitchen)

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