New campus grill offers great food and better atmosphere
Rather than eating in Sodexo’s Diamond Cafe, which is okay if you have a meal plan or $8.50 to spend on dull cafeteria fare, much of the campus community chooses to grab a quick bite at one of the few fast-food joints in the Donaghey Student Center or bordering campus on University and Colonel Glenn Avenues. But why pay more money for less quality when an exponentially better option is just around the bend?
The start of a new academic year brought not only hoards of new freshman and stressed faculty and staff members — it also introduced a few new and impressive facilities to our humble grounds, one of which is the Trojan Grill.
Named in honor of UALR’s maroon-clad mascot, a Trojan soldier whose head is depicted in all manner of university merchandise, the Trojan Grill sits adjacent to the newly-constructed West Hall. Any day of the week between 5 p.m. and midnight, variations of grilled classics including hamburgers, sandwiches, pizza and salads can be had at surprisingly affordable prices.
Acoustics aside, the building’s atmosphere is beautiful compared to the outdated and dimly lit cafeteria. The facility even comes equipped with a large flat-screen television and a fireplace, although that won’t be of any use for months to come.
After the first trek up the hill to the shiny new Trojan Grill, we were pleasantly surprised at the lack of a line, although that was 15 minutes after opening; the place can get pretty packed during prime dining hours (6 p.m. to 8 p.m.). We walked in and mulled over the menu options on a large, flatscreen television and I decided to go with a something standard: a grilled chicken sandwich.
The friendly Sodexo employee at the cash register allowed me to substitute the default seasoned french fries with sweet potato fries for no additional cost. I also chose to fill my water bottle, which saved a couple of bucks, and the total came to a mere $5.30.
The kitchen staff worked efficiently and in plain sight while we grabbed our condiments and filled our bottles up with ice water at the soda fountain. Both plates were served up as soon as we chose a table.
The grilled chicken sandwich, which is the first item listed on the Signature Chicken section of the menu, was a fairly good one. The chicken was lightly seasoned, served on a savory multigrain bun and topped with thinly sliced tomato, white onion and romaine (on the side). The slight sweetness of the long, crispy sweet potato fries served as a nice accent to the tender, white meat. The lack of salt on the fries was a relief, allowing customers to control their own sodium levels.
The atmosphere of the hilltop venue and the fare that it whips up is par for the course of a traditional grill. The kitchen appears clean, the staff seem friendly, the food is good and the location couldn’t be better. But the new eatery is still very young — not even two weeks have passed since its grand opening on Aug. 23 — and only time will tell if the Trojan Grill can keep up the pace as a viable alternative to its many competitors.