Stanford’s largest residential dining complex, Wilbur Dining serves residents of Arroyo, Cedro, Junipero, Okada, Otero, Rinconada, Soto and Trancos. Its spacious servery also plays host on weekends to students from nearby Branner and Manzanita Park.
In the dining rooms, wooden chairs make up the seating around round, wooden tables. The cafeteria uses cheap silverware and colorful plastic plates from China. The atmosphere is pregnant with vague excitement, as freshman talk about their classes and the upcoming parties. These combine to offer a kind of casually luxe feel to your meal.
The cooks at Wilbur Dining have talent, though they would do well to pare down the rambling menu, which takes inspiration from national cuisines throughout the world. They cook with brash confidence, offering big flavors in close proximity to extremely delicate ones. When this works, all are grateful. Most dishes, however, should be struck from the books.
The grilled chicken came riding something on the order of dry Texas toast. Consuming it took much water. However, two of the pasta dishes that make frequent appearances on the menu were impressive: the penne pasta with spinach and leeks was cooked al dente and served with a hearty marinara sauce. The tortellini with brown butter sage did a deft, unusual seesaw between heartiness and delicacy. For dessert, choose from their comprehensive selection of cereals or try the pistachio frozen yogurt sprinkled with granola.
658 Escondido Road, Stanford, Calif. 94305; (650) 725-1500.
ATMOSPHERE Simple surroundings. Staff is good-natured and helpful.
SOUND LEVEL Bearably loud.
RECOMMENDED DISHES Heirloom tomato salad; fried calamari; lasagna bolognese; capellini with flaked cod; pan-roasted chicken; grilled lamb chops; hamburger (lunch only); porchetta (Wednesday nights only); banana tart; chocolate chip bread pudding; cookie assortment.
WINE LIST None.
PRICE RANGE Breakfast, $6.25; lunch, $8; dinner, $10.
HOURS On weekdays, breakfast from 7:30 a.m to 9:30 a.m., lunch from 11:30 a.m to 1:15 p.m. and dinner from 5:15 p.m. to 7 p.m. On weekends, brunch from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and dinner from 5:15 p.m. to 7 p.m.
RESERVATIONS Call at least three weeks ahead for prime times.
CREDIT CARDS All major.
WHEELCHAIR ACCESS Entrance, one dining area and accessible restroom.
WHAT THE STARS MEAN Ratings range from zero to four stars and reflect the reviewer’s reaction to food, ambience and service, with price taken into consideration. Menu listings and prices are subject to change.