I have been fortunate enough to dine on Ricker cuisine for just under a year now. And yet, every time I walk down my three flights of stairs, generally wearing PJs, I feel a significant rise in spirits. Whether it’s exchanging smiles with Mary, Ricker’s fearless and devoted General Manager, or chatting with Chris about weekend plans — Chris swipes IDs and never fails to remember a face — or diving into the recent addition to Tuesday nights, FONDUE, I always feel so lucky to be watched over by such a kind, caring group of people.
One of my favorite parts about Ricker is the holiday decor. And I don’t just mean Christmas, but Halloween, Valentine’s, St. Patrick’s Day, Spring Faire and Mardi Gras. All days seem to fall within the celebratory purview of this particular dining staff, as committed as they are to creative and festive celebrations of food and culture. This past Valentine’s there were those heart shaped candies with sassy messages, #bemine/#gimmeakiss, while on St. Patrick’s there was all manner of Irish cuisine, including corned beef and hash. They saved the best for Spring Faire: an array of balloons shaped like flowers hung from the upstairs balcony. This sort of commitment to simple joy does not go unnoticed, making many of us feel that Ricker is truly our kitchen away from home.
As someone who tries not to eat meat, I find that Ricker is never short of delicious, vegetarian/vegan options. I am often tickled at the sight of 3-4 mainly veggie dishes, some personal favorites including garlic sautéed kale, veggie stir fry (with red peppers, onions, carrots and green beans) or mixed leafy greens with an array of seasonings. Some stand out dishes for me include the miso soup, the garlic fries, the cauliflower cakes, the shoyu chicken, the butternut squash mashed potatoes and for desert, the apple/blackberry pies on Sunday nights.
Another thing Ricker does incredibly, nay, remarkably well, is soliciting feedback from students and visitors to the dining hall. The comment box, located atop a beautiful black grand piano, is always my pit stop after a particularly delicious meal; see miso soup of 2018. Mary even goes so far as to hang up particularly helpful/relevant comment cards above the sink for everyone to read, personally responding to each in her telltale red pen. Mary and her team work to implement these requested changes with astonishing speed. I recall once when I decided to be incredibly difficult and request arugula instead of spinach for the salad bar. Low and behold we were treated to a few weeks of something new. It is this sort of responsive approach to student voices that makes Ricker feel so warm and inviting. Not only does its small size contribute to the feeling of homeyness, but the sound of classic R&B from the early 2000s greeting you as you enter, the unfailingly festive decor and the welcoming faces of the staff all contribute to the establishment of a loving and wonderfully comforting environment.
Contact Hannah Broderick at inbloom ‘at’ stanford.edu.