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Taking a tour of hospital cafeterias

October 24, 2009|By Donna Huffaker Evans

The mere mention of hospital food elicits contorted facial expressions and conjures images of green Jello and meatloaf surprise. Depending on how sick the patients, or how sad the visitors, chances are, food is not foremost on their minds.

But they want to be comforted. Hence, comfort food — flavorful, home-cooked meals that offer a nostalgic, soul-healing appeal. And because feeling better is what every hospital wants for its patients, shouldn’t the cafeterias strive to achieve this basic need?

With this in mind, I visited each cafeteria in the four hospitals in Burbank and Glendale: Providence St. Joseph Medical Center, Glendale Adventist Medical Center, Glendale Memorial Hospital and Verdugo Hills Hospital.

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Glendale Memorial

If you don’t feel sick walking into Glendale Memorial Cafe, you might once you get there. The edibility of the chicken burrito and lemon pepper fish behind the glass case looked as questionable as the entree display at the cafe’s entrance. A fry cook stood ready to grill hamburgers, tuna melts and grilled-cheese sandwiches, but I wandered over to the limited-selection salad bar, where the sheen on a stack of unwrapped lunch meat sent me toward the Grab & Go meals.

Thankfully, the cafe offered several pre-packaged salads. I opted for the $5.59 Greek salad (which tasted fine), as the other selections’ less-than-fresh chicken and slimy turkey Cobb left me cringing. The dining area was uninviting, so I grabbed my grub and left.

Glendale Adventist

Now this is a cafeteria. The Terrace Cafe stays open all day, catering to specific dishes at meal times. Under a sign that read “Comfort Food,” the cafe featured quite a selection of carb-heavy and high-protein fare, including eggplant risotto, corn bread, Cajun tilapia, and scallops and tartar sauce. Appetizing in appearance though it was, the comfort food I chose was a hamburger. The busy cook asked how I’d like it dressed before serving a thick patty on a toasted bun. It was tasty, cooked to order, well-done, with a choice of fresh lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, onions and a host of condiments. The burger, chips and a beverage came to just less than $6.

The spacious cafeteria proffers homemade soups and an entire section of themed food, such as traditional Mexican or Italian food. There are juice machines, latte machines, entire refrigerators of SoBe juices and energy drinks, as well as a stocked salad bar and bowls of fresh fruit.

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