The STEAMery may sound a bit ridiculous, but the food makes up for the slightly cringey name. The café lies in the large lobby of the newly renovated section of Nobel, with large glass windows that let in a lot of natural light. The view outside is a slightly depressing field of mud, construction fencing, and even more construction fencing. However, the café has a decent sized collection of coffee drinks, a limited variety of soups, salads, sandwiches, and smoothies that rotate each day.
The day that The Gustavian Weekly reviewed The STEAMery was cold and rainy and the only thing we really wanted was a warm cup of soup. Starting off our review round was the soup of the day, roasted veggie and couscous soup. The soup looked appealing enough, and it tasted like chili in disguise. We agreed that it seemed like something you’d want to have on a cold, dreary day because food makes everything better.
The smoothies in the café were actually smooth, unlike the thick, chunky mess from the Marketplace. The smoothie may have been the most contentious part of this review, as the team was split on its watery base. The smoothie has its merits, but I think it would benefit from using different base liquid to give it more of a smoothie finish and not just a fruity water mix.
Finishing out the mediocre to okay category of the review is the Chaca tea. The STEAMery was handing out free samples of the tea at the time and we decided to take one for the team. The tea, although mildly disgusting to look at, actually wasn’t that bad. It definitely tasted like something your vegan friend would want you to try. If you are ever looking to try out kombucha, this may be a great set of training wheels, but you shouldn’t do that if you like your taste buds.
This brings us to the part of our food experience that made the whole two-minute walk worth it. We had heard rumors of the amazing breakfast sandwich and wanted to try it for ourselves, even if it was two in the afternoon. The sandwich was a biscuit stuffed with eggs, sausage, cheese, like an egg McMuffin without the obnoxious letter on it. For only a bit more than three dollars, this would definitely be worth it, especially if you’re early to class on a Monday morning and need something to get through your two-hour chemistry lecture. The other sandwich was a vegetarian flatbread with barbeque sauce. This one is a bit harder to review as it definitely looked a bit sloppy, but didn’t taste bad at all. Honestly, this little café seems to have better vegetarian and vegan options in their four rotating meals than the entire Marketplace does during the whole week.
The desserts were surprisingly delicious, as we got samples of the monster cookies and pineapple sticks. The monster cookies were soft and tasteful and were very cheap, so that’s another plus. Now, you might be having the same question we did, what on earth is a pineapple stick? Apparently, it is a pastry, like a baguette, filled with pineapple, which altogether tastes like a pineapple-upside-down cake. The only caveat with the stick though is the texture of the filling is way off, and it would benefit from being blended a bit more to break up the pineapple chunks.
Now, I think the best thing they had on the menu was by far the chicken salad. Yes, it beats out the chicken salad from the Marketplace by a landslide as The STEAMery version has a sweet dressing that works really well with the chicken and was the winner for best food of this review. While it was a bit expensive, it was by far the most “worth it” food as you get a lot out of it and it definitely seems like a better alternative than your three hundredth plate of chicken tenders and fries.
Lastly, I think the coffee is worth mentioning, since it is after all a café. As a non-coffee drinker, I am relying on the knowledge of my co-reviewer for a final say on the coffee. The chai latte has a pretty decent taste, but it could have benefited from having more of a cream base. The other coffee options seem pretty standard, but we did not have the time or metabolism to try eight cups of coffee.
Overall, the addition of another food option is something that Gustavus has been needing to fill for a while now, and I believe The STEAMery has the potential to be a great place on campus for both the food and the fact that it is now an option for people on the opposite side of campus. My final piece about this is that once the construction is finished, I think this might be the best place to grab a bite to eat on campus.