Goudy Commons Cafe at Willamette University


Reviewed by Sam I Am

I admit it: I first found out about Goudy Commons Cafe from The Food Network, when host Rachael Ray visited Salem in 2005. Goudy is one of the cafeterias on the Willamette University campus. It was a hidden secret from me, and if it's also been a mystery to you, I hope you stop by - the food is delicious, and it's not just for students.
Thursday is “Small Plates” day at Goudy, when the chefs whip up an impressive mix of gourmet fare in snack-sized proportions. The day I went, there were five dishes, and I chose four. I was brave enough to try the Sudan Leg of Lamb but passed on the Braised Local Beef Tongue. (Beef tongue? My college cafeteria was nothing like this!)













The Lamb ($2.25) was smoky and moist, with a delicious mint-feta-yogurt sauce on top. The Fried Cheese Raviolis in clarified butter ($1.95) were set off well by the Mesclun Salad ($2.00), a perfect mix of Asian pears, bleu cheese and pine nuts. The NW Cassoulet ($2.50) was a hearty combination of duck, pork, wild mushrooms, white beans and house-made sausage. Although the homemade sausage was impressive, the dish overall was a little bland. I shared dessert with my dining companion: chocolate pudding with homemade whipped cream topped by Oreo crumbles.

An employee puts together each dish as it’s ordered. The preparation was a little slow, and a line began forming. Things can get pretty hectic at Goudy around noon. If you show up a little before noon, or a little after, things calm down.

Bon Apetit, the food-service company at Willamette, prides itself on using fresh, local and organic ingredients when possible.

Even the other dining options in the Goudy cafeteria are high quality: wraps, sandwiches, Mexican food, a salad bar, soups, a grill, pizza, and dessert.

My dining companion chose a couple of the Small Plates that day, and also browsed the rest of the cafeteria's options.

















He enjoyed (clockwise from bottom) tomato-basil soup, cornbread, the leg of lamb, the NW Cassoulet, a pear, and wheatberry salad- a delicious mix of grains and fruits.

After you've passed through the turnstiles at the entrance, picked out your meal, and unloaded it from your tray, you'll be hard-pressed to believe that this is "cafeteria food."

Goudy Commons Cafe may seem intimidating at first if you've never stepped onto the Willamette University campus. But the dining room draws a variety of folks from all over Salem, most notably Legislators and other state workers from across the street. I've seen business meetings conducted there; I've seen babies and little kids. The day I visited last week, I noticed more senior citizens (on break from a lifetime-learning class) than 18-year-old students.


















This ain't no county fair: At Goudy, entering through turnstiles doesn't mean your food is going to be greasy, fried and unidentifiable. Quite the contrary.



Willamette University's official address is 900 State Street. To get to Goudy from State Street, turn south on Winter Street. About halfway down the street, take the path east into campus. Goudy Commons is a red brick building on your left. (There's no sign). You can find a campus map here.

11 comments:

amy said...

Yum! I was turned onto this by some coworkers who were Willamette alum. I like the wraps they do; the woman who finishes it up often looks like she's trying to pack an overstuffed suitcase! Nice variety of different options, and decent prices, too. Anyone who works downtown can access it easily.

Salem Man said...

That place is good any day of the week. Until I saw this post, I had no idea that it was called Goudy Commons Cafe. I just called it the cafeteria at Willamette.

jeff said...

No need to apologize - I'd never heard about it until Rachel Ray.

I am happy to say I did already know of Busick Court...

Anonymous said...

I'd like to add that they are open for dinner as well, from 4:30-7:00 pm. I believe it's 7 or 8 bucks for an all-you-can-eat buffet with a pretty large variety of food. Definitely more "cafeteria" style than lunchtime, but it's way better than most cafeteria's I've ever been to.

Erin said...

As a WU student, I think it's kind of funny that so many non-students/faculty eat at Goudy, but I don't really mind it. The food there is definitely a lot better than at other schools I've visited. I do wonder if the university would ever take action if our cafeterias started getting to crowded for students to use efficiently, though...

Chuck Bradley said...

On Thursdays they have “Small Plates” which are, as the name implies, small servings of gourmet delights. Today I had Chicken Mole on a bed of crisp greens, Lamb Kabob with cuscus and a red peppery sauce, an Antipasto plate which consisted of black olives, various cold cuts and shaved parmesan cheese, bread and finished with Chocolate Cheesecake. This wonderful place is open to everyone and is among Salem’s best kept secrets. Fantastic!

Chuck Bradley said...

They're closed until Fall term begins. Had my taste buds all primed for their fantastic "little plates" today only to discover that they are not open Summer term.

Anonymous said...

Small plates start up again on Thursday, September 2, 2010! Get ready for some delicious lunch treats! And let everyone know what you tried...

Chuck Bradley said...

Goudy Commons re-opens for fall term this week!!!!!!!!!!

Chuck Bradley said...

This place always just knocks me out! Today I had Jamaican Jerk Chicken with fried new potatoes and broccoli, Brie Cheese Blitz, Onion Stuffed Pork Chop w/Red Wine Sauce and a Potato and Chanterelle Taco! Wow! “Small Plates” Rock! The only thing I would change here is I'd heat the small plates which now tend to let the food cool too quickly.

Anonymous said...

The food and wait staff for that matter at Goudy Commons is sub-par at best. From talking with the students a little while I was there, they all seemed to say that they only go there if they are on that side of campus and its usually for a wrap or the grill. With exception to the small plates Chef Paul I believe, does a fantastic job with the small plates, The soup on the other hand was bland and did not have a lot of flavor don't think I will be going back anytime soon.