Oberlin Blogs

Good Eats Oberlin Ohio

March 9, 2024

Hanna Alwine ’26

Some may say (there are those who have said) that Oberlin, Ohio does not have a lot to offer when compared to larger schools in bigger cities (I’m thinking New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco) especially in terms of the selection of food. I may have even thought this very same thing (and I did) when I first came to Oberlin College. 

But after spending a fair amount of time here (months upon months upon months) I've realized that, though we may only have a handful of restaurants, there is a lot of good food if you know where to look. Below I have compiled a list of culturally important Oberlin culinary delicacies and where you can find them.  

Chocolate Croissant, Slow Train Cafe

While it's true that you can find a chocolate croissant in nearly any city in the world, the French are impossible to hide from, there is a special place in my heart for the Slow Train chocolate croissant. Working at Slow Train over the past semester and a half, the pastry made up the majority of my breakfasts over the past semester. Does that make me biased? I don't think so. If anything it makes me more qualified to tell you that these croissants are unlike any croissant I have ever seen. 

Imagine your typical chocolate croissant. Buttery, flaky pastry (layers upon layers upon layers) surrounds several (two?) sticks of chocolate baked into the dough. If you’re lucky, your croissant has been warmed up in some sort of toaster oven. When you eat it, the chocolate is gooey and the pastry is falling apart all over your table in a glorious francisized mess.  

The chocolate croissants at Slow Train have a very similar make-up — they retain that traditional chocolate baked into pastry dough — but instead of those sticks of chocolate that they shove into the traditional croissant (perhaps these are just the American croissants I am eating and not truly French — to any French pastry chefs reading this blog I offer my deepest condolences if I am incorrectly representing this culinary masterpiece), when you bite into a Slow Train chocolate croissant, you find at the center a tiny mound of chocolate chips. 

You may be thinking — this is not life-changing, nor is it particularly innovative, but I have never seen this chocolate croissant make-up anywhere else. Maybe one day I will find it in another corner of the United States or (god forbid) France. But for now I choose to believe that the chocolate croissant from Slow Train in the small town of Oberlin, Ohio is revolutionary. 

Wenzel's Pretzels, Pyle Inn Co-op 

(As I’ve mentioned in maybe all of my other blogs) I am lucky enough to dine in Pyle Inn Co-op this semester. This means that I am able to indulge in incredible vegetarian, vegan (occasionally meat-based) meals on a daily basis. We also have specifically elected positions to make and bake incredible treats. Some of the highlights this week have been soft pretzels, cinnamon biscuits, cherry granola, zucchini muffins, and apple crisp. 

By far my favorite creation was made by my (very German) friend Anna Wenzel last semester. I’m still not sure what Anna puts in these pretzels. I’ve asked and if I’m remembering correctly — butter, salt, and a whole lot of love? I’ll have to check back with her. In any case, they are world-shattering. Ask anyone in the co-op and they’ll tell you. Over winter term when Anna was traveling the world from Japan to Colorado, my friends and I, stuck in Oberlin, dreamed of those pretzels, praying for the day when they would one day return to our warm little dining cooperative’s plates. 

Celery and Peanut Butter, Decafe

I am not an avid DeCafe goer. In fact, I rarely set foot in the place. Situated in the basement of Wilder Hall, Decafe is a part of the Oberlin Dining plan. It sells a range of foods — cookies, chips, various cake mixes, berries, some vegetables, sandwiches, really incredible chocolate frosting. I’ve heard it equated to a strange 7/11. If you don’t come from a place where there are 7/11s, maybe Sheetz is a more apt comparison? 

When I do go into DeCafe it is trailing behind a friend of mine who still remains on the Campus Dining meal plan. It’s a bit of an adventure, a chance to see how the other Oberlin students live, getting their sustenance, not from rice and beans, but from plastic wrapped ham sandwiches and Bubles.

My one Decafe weakness is their celery and peanut butter. Co-ops pride themselves on their ability to offer a space that is free and accessible to students with allergens. This means that all allergens are accounted for in meals. If you can’t eat eggs, there will always be an option for dinner that doesn’t include eggs. If you can’t eat gluten, same goes. If you can’t eat dairy, there will be oat milk (or some other alternative you can consume) at the ready. But this attention to allergens also means that co-ops are spaces free from tree nuts, a classification that, unfortunately, includes peanut butter. This means that I have to get my peanut butter fix from somewhere else. 

This is where the DeCafe celery comes in. Never have I had celery crunchier, fresher, crisper. Never have I had peanut butter creamier, smoother, more peanut buttery. I would argue that even if you don’t like celery (a sickness I’ve found affects a large part of our population here at Oberlin College) you would like the DeCafe celery. It’s transcendent. 

Oatmeal Cookies, Cat in the Cream 

Saving the best for last, the only cookie you will ever want or need is the Oatmeal Cookie from the Cat in the Cream. Run! Don’t walk! (I swear this isn’t sponsored.) 

The Cat in the Cream is great for many reasons. It puts on incredible live music performances (really good jazz). It has great workshops (recently I attended one entitled GaySL). It is right next to the campus bowling alley so if you get tired of the jazz you can mosey on over and bowl a couple rounds. But it is the Cat in the Cream’s Oatmeal Cookies that make it a place worth visiting. As big as your head (sometimes bigger! it depends on the size of your head!) and, if freshly baked, soft, melt-in-your-mouth warm, I have made several out-of-my-way trips, trekking from Bailey House (on North Campus) all the way to the Cat in the Cream (right by Hales Gymnasium). Try one! You’ll be hooked for life.

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