Good food on campus
Although lunch entrees are on the pricey side, the value is in the careful cooking and the quality of ingredients-where feasible, the kitchen uses local products. The chicken, for example, is a skinless breast, pan seared without a lot of fuss. It comes from Eat Local Eat Natural, the new Scio Township company that supplies restaurants with local goods. Chicken this fresh translates to a very juicy and tasty fillet. Served alongside are creamy mashed potatoes and simple steamed broccoli from Prochaska Farms near Tecumseh, surrounded by a thin ribbon of light lemony Mornay sauce. It was so light I wondered if, in traditional Mornay style, it had cheese in it, and asked the chef. Merhar told me he adds just enough Parmigiano-Reggiano to give it a creamy mouth-feel but not enough to weigh it down. The sum is a dish that feels straightforward, wholesome, and home cooked.
As down-home as that chicken dinner was, the tuna salad is anything but traditional, and more exotic than local. The star ingredient, a fairly sizable fillet of fresh, high-grade yellowfin tuna, is flown in overnight from Hawaii. It is slathered in white shiromiso paste and black and white sesame seeds and briefly seared, but only enough to form a sort of sesame shell. The miso paste gives it a saltiness and the sesame seeds a nuttiness, and the combined effect is of a flavorful crust giving way to velvety raw tuna. The fish is sliced and fanned over chilled soba noodles (from Eden Foods in Clinton) tossed with julienne carrots, yellow and red peppers, scallions, shiitake mushrooms, and a ginger-citrus vinaigrette.
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