Brothers Joel and Evan BlakelyBrothers Joel and Evan Blakely share a fraternal dinner Friday in the residence student lounge.

New lounge finding favour among residence students

The residence student lounge, now serving dinner in Vanier Hall, is a great addition to campus food outlets, says Evan Blakely.

“It’s just a good place to come chill and hang out with friends and have a good meal,” the first-year criminology student said Friday. A resident of Cartier Hall, he patronized the lounge twice in the five days following its opening October 15.

“I’m having the Reuben tonight and I had Chinese food yesterday,” he said. “I like that there’s so much variety in the menu.”

It was first visit for his brother Joel Blakely, who no longer lives in residence.

“I wanted to see what it was all about,” he said. “I wish they had a place like this for everyone to go when I was in Mac Hall.”

That’s exactly the niche it’s meant to fill, according to Dave McEwen, executive director of campus services.

“Our students living on campus need to eat among their peers,” he said. “They haven’t had that dedicated space that is meant for them.”

The residence lounge promises casual contemporary dining in the space formerly occupied by the University Club, on the ground floor of Vanier Hall. The renovated room boasts 90 seats in upholstered chairs and tables in dark wood, with overflow seating available in the adjacent Centennial Room.

Executive chef Paolo Vasapolli has planned a menu to suit the setting. The buffet will serve home-style meals and desserts, daily salads, halal and vegetarian selections, and options for those following gluten- and lactose-free diets.

“We want to use fresh, local ingredients to create memorable dishes,” he said. “Our guests will feel like they’re in a restaurant.”

First-year kinesiology major Rachel Smits, who lives in Macdonald Hall, said she has noticed the difference.

“I definitely like having actual forks and knives, and china dishes,” she said. “It feels like I’m having a meal rather than fast food.”

She observes a gluten-free diet and said it is “awesome” to have options: “I like that it’s easier to eat healthier.”

The lounge will operate seven days a week, from 4:30 to 7 p.m.