The comforting palate of Midtown Provisions

A loaded pulled pork burrito patiently waits to be eaten. Photo by Terry Ngai


Cooking is serious business. As a junior living in Apartment Village with the smallest meal plan, I spend significant time each week strategizing with my roommates over what food to buy. I love to see all the ingredients come together into a dish that can be shared — when I have the time to cook, at least. I start to dread lunch on those days when I have only half an hour between activities to forage through the fridge and come up with something quick. That is when I turn to the recently renovated Midtown Provisions — formerly Residential College Dining — for a low-stress lunch. 

I took the opportunity to sample the staple meals on offer at Midtown Provisions for The Butler Collegian, thanks to Marketing Director Kevin Assange and General Manager of Retail and Operations Matthew Barnes. 

“[Midtown Provisions] is geared towards providing a relaxing space to enjoy a great meal [and] relieve stress from classes,” Barnes said. “We want to give students something they can enjoy every day.” 

I can confidently say that I enjoyed my buffet, which was divided into several courses that reflected the different food stations. Hopefully, this article is the start of my long and fruitful career as a food critic and recipient of free meals. 

The Boost Menu: Quesadilla and burger 

The Boost Menu is an evolving menu that provides specialty items that are not available through the in-person line. Students pre-order these items online, which allows Midtown Provisions to ensure that the quality of each item is top-notch. I sampled the build-your-own chipotle chicken quesadilla and a classic American burger. 

The quesadilla did not skimp on the cheese, which is a theme for all the Midtown Provisions selections. The quesadilla crust was speckled with the perfect amount of brown, and I can confirm it did not lose any crispiness when reheated in a pan over an Apartment Village stove. The smoky chipotle mayo helped make it taste just as fresh as when it came off the griddle.

You can’t go wrong with a heaping plate of quesadillas. Photo by Terry Ngai

Sometimes, all you need is a classic burger without any unnecessary frills. Midtown Provisions’ take had lettuce, onion, tomato, pickle and American cheese. I had a beef patty, but they offer vegetarian patties as well. The cheese was melted and the bun was toasted but still soft. The flavor of the pickles was strong and crisp, too. If there’s one thing that makes me angry, it is soggy, weak pickles. 

Warm & Soulful: Burrito and burrito bowl 

If there was ever a defining feature of dining at Butler, it is the build-your-own burrito and burrito bowl. The sight of colorful veggies and sauces alone was enough to make me hungry. My dad’s rule of thumb when cooking is that the more colors there are on the plate, the healthier and tastier it is. That rule has never failed me yet. 

I sampled a pulled pork burrito with a wealth of fajita veggies and avocado crema. The meat and veggies were placed in a delightful spiral, and the crema was refreshing. The whole experience was light but jam-packed with ingredients. The burrito bowl didn’t disappoint, either. I experimented from my usual selection with a chipotle chicken bowl that featured chipotle ranch, jalapenos and queso. The jalapeno was a bit too much spice for me, but that can be customized at the station.

The classic burrito bowl in all its glory, with chips and a healthy dose of queso. Photo by Terry Ngai

Wood & Stone: Pizza and Korean BBQ chicken over white rice 

I live in the Chicago suburbs, and as such it is my duty to be slightly snobby whenever someone mentions pizza. My standards are high, and my love for cheese is even higher. Midtown Provisions offered me a slice topped with chicken, bacon, ranch and sriracha. They also offer cheese, pepperoni and other rotating options. The crust, which is made in-house, was thick but very puffy. This helped prevent it from being too doughy, and the cheese was sufficiently layered atop it. This station also serves a rotating menu of pasta as another delivery vehicle for sauce and cheese. 

The Korean BBQ chicken over white rice is one of the rotating Asian cuisine specials that are featured in Wood & Stone. I enjoyed the lo mein bowls from years prior, so I was excited to give it a try. The sauce was tangy and delicious, and the chicken was thinly cut so that each bite had a healthy ratio of rice to meat. This thin cut did mean the chicken was a little too tough for my taste, but overall it was a good experience. 

Korean BBQ chicken over rice is the perfect hot meal for an icy winter day. Photo by Terry Ngai

Bread & Pickle: Meatball sub and California turkey croissant club 

The meatball sub is a staple of my own cooking, which made it even more pleasant to eat one I didn’t have to prepare myself. The Midtown Provisions sub had all-beef meatballs, mozzarella, marinara and was toasted in the oven. The whole wheat bread was crunchy and the meatballs were the ideal temperature. On my first bite, I was worried that the bread would be too dry, but by my second, the mozzarella and marinara sauce had balanced it out with some moisture. 

The California turkey croissant club consisted of turkey, dijon, avocado, lettuce, tomato, bacon and ranch. It made me feel very fancy and convinced me to buy croissants more often for my own cooking. The bacon was crunchy, the croissants were like clouds, and the dijon hit the spot. The sandwich was featured at Midtown Provisions for the Super Bowl as part of a “San Francisco vs. Kansas City” lineup that included wings and desserts.

A towering California turkey croissant club sandwich with all the works. Photo by Terry Ngai

Show & Tell: Clam chowder 

The final course of my meal was a cup of clam chowder soup with crumbled bacon bits and potato. It was served with a side of saltines. The bacon bits added a vital bit of crunch to the ensemble and a great deal of aesthetic value. The saltines made for a fun way to eat the soup with an added level of crunch. Show & Tell offers a variety of soups that change regularly.

A tastefully displayed bowl of clam chowder with one of the greatest snacks of all time, the saltine cracker. Photo by Terry Ngai

The strength of Midtown Provisions’ offerings comes from the balance between customizable options and set staples. I have developed my personal favorite combinations over the years, but the taste-test opened my eyes to new options. This is exactly the effect that Midtown Provisions is aiming for. 

I hope to bring some of the visions to my own table, especially the California turkey croissant club. To me, sharing creative ideas and recipes is the most valuable part of cooking. Meals in my own kitchen or at campus dining locations would be incomplete without the banter of friends and peers. 

The personal element of dining is where I think Midtown Provisions truly shines. The chefs and staff make an effort to connect with students. They pay attention to suggestions and compliments in-person and online in an effort to stay attuned to the needs of students. Students feeling that they are cared for while they dine is just as important as the food itself.


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