Oregon Health and Science University Cafeteria

This one has a happy ending.

Hospitals aren’t, as a rule, going to be included on anyone’s “ten best” list  The trope of terrible hospital chow –  grey, overcooked mush floating languidly in a  sightly grayer sauce – persists because, well, hospital food sucks. It seems to be calculatedly awful, encouraging you to leave through the front door or through the morgue, but definitely not to linger.

That said, having recently spent a few days at La Hotel OHSU, my most persistent dining companion and I were pleasantly surprised at the quality of the meals. First, it’s room service. You call down, they bring you what you want. There’s a menu! Of recognizable meals! Secondly, it’s good. Fresh produce, actual meat, and they manage to get it to you while it’s still hot. They’re not going to win any Michelin stars up the hill, but as institutional food goes, it beats the hell out of nutraloaf.

It’s cheap too, at least for those of us tangentially attached to the action. It was like $10 bucks a plate. I’ve paid a lot more for worse meals in Portland. Probably making it up on the insurance side of things.

Admittedly, after being awake for better than seventy-two hours, I’m a bit foggy on what we actually ate – meatloaf was in there, a spaghetti-esque plate of pasta, lots of fresh fruit. At one point there was a giant cesar salad, though it’s a even bet was to whether that one actually existed. I had to go mump coffee off the nurses – not for the first time, having been on the meatball side of medicine in my girlhood –  but even the perpetual pot yielded surprisingly good results.

So if you’re going to have a major medical episode, I can recommend the chocolate chip cookies at OHSU. If you complete the frequent customer card, they also give you a child to take with you. It’s pretty alright.