The Fare: The revolving menu features hearty comfort food, like rice and beans, s'more pudding, or macaroni and cheese.
The Stop: When I ventured over to the southwest part of the University of Washington's campus to find Curbside 8 last week, I completely misread and misinterpreted its menu at first glance.
"Rice n' beans --MED style!" The hand-written menu advertised. Maybe it was my tired eyes and brain -- I was completely fried from prepping for finals week-- but I thought that this rice n' beans dish was the invention of an enthusiastic medical student or something. Cute.
And then I read the description: "Garbanzo beans, spinach, onions, tomatoes, red peppers, and garlic tossed with rice with homemade tzatziki and toasted herb bread." From where I was standing - five feet away, behind a pair of guys intensely discussing their research - I thought that "tzatziki," said "tortellini."
Rice and beans, medical school style, with tortellini? Kind of strange, I thought, but ordered a plate anyway - partly because the duo in front of me had ordered it, too. I pictured a medical student furiously running around in the truck, flinging beans and rice and tortellini into a giant pot, mixing up a soup-like concoction.
I was given this, which made me immediately realize that the menu actually meant "Mediterranean" style, and "tzatziki," instead of what I originally thought. Duh.
It wasn't bad. But it wasn't knock-my-socks-off awesome, either. I used the toasted flatbread, heated up right before I was handed my plate, to scoop up the rice. It tasted like somebody had poured a can of vegetable soup over a pot of rice. Not necessarily a bad thing, except that the rice was weakly flavored. The tzatziki was awesome: fresh, light, with a nice balance of garlic and lemon juice. I would've been happy munching on a few pieces of flatbread dipped in tzatziki.
The two most mentionable items on the rotating menu that week: homemade macaroni and cheese and a s'more pudding that could sate most chocolate cravings.
Andrea Benson, the manager and chef of these mobile dining units, said that the UW's Housing & Food Services (HFS) opened Curbside 8 this past spring to fill some holes in the campus' dining options. When the student union building closed down for construction in last year, students on the southwest part of campus - home to the university's engineering and science departments - had less dining options. Benson said that Curbside 8 and Siganos, another truck located in that area of campus, receive around 400 customers a day.
To some students, Curbside's food might seem familiar. It might even seem like food they've eaten in a dining hall. That's because Curbside 8's revolving menu is based off of the 8, one of the school's popular dining halls, Benson said.
In the future, if I knew that Curbside 8 was serving up that same menu with the not-medical-student beans n' rice, I don't think I'd order that for comfort. I'd probably mosey on over to the other truck to see what it had to offer. But with Curbside's ever-changing menu, maybe there'd be better luck next time.