Lunch: So This Is Why I Don’t Like Hot & Crusty (The Cafeteria Food Quotient)

From the first moment we met, Hot & Crusty, I’ve never liked you. It’s not just that you try so hard to be liked (which you do).

photo(4)photo(2)It’s not just that you’re sort of useless, caught in limbo between mega-chains (Starbucks, Subway), better chains (Cafe Metro, Pret a Manger) and shut out from the allegiance people have to their local neighborhood delis (you’ll never be local). You’re just … bland. Which is boring. And I don’t want to be friends.

Every so often I think I’m being to harsh, and so I give you another chance, mainly because you do try, at least, to serve somewhat healthful food. Like today, I was craving some hearty vegetable dish — not salad, not soup and not a veggie and/or cheese sandwich or panini or wrap. I’d already stopped in Dean & Deluca and Teleon Cafe and struck out when I found this tray of spinach pies at Hot & Crusty. Bingo. A big, thick piece of spinach pie, plus a side salad, for under $6. I love it.

photo(3)photoBut then, when I took a bite of the salad, I had this electric and instantaneous sensory memory: This is the exact same Italian dressing I ate for years in my college cafeteria. And that’s when it hit me: Oh my god, Hot & Crusty IS college cafeteria food incarnate. Safe, middle-of-the-road pizzas, pastas, pastries, sandwiches, everything a little over-dry from sitting out for hours, everything slightly skewing towards “healthy” (i.e. no heavy oils, nothing too greasy or fried), bland, so as to not offend the pickiest of eaters.

And that’s exactly why we don’t play more often.

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