Hospital food has come a long way. My opinion of Salem Hospital is not that high. The level of care my family has received over the years has varied from okay to negligent and nonexistent, but the patient food has improved a great deal over the years. The menu of options has become quite impressive. It’s been many years since I’ve visited more than the coffee shop but my memory is of either public school cafeteria or diner, seems like they’re trying to change things up with Creekside Dining.
Creekside Dining is located on the ground floor of Building D. Building D is one of the Hospital’s new buildings, and the windows look out on the fresh and well cared for landscaping. The lobby is flanked by large pots of lush indoor plants in bronze colored pots (living healthy plants always make me feel better at the doctors. I have to question a doctor that can’t keep their plants alive!). The color scheme is dark wood paneling, black paint, and tiles. The lobby is dominated by three not quite floor to ceiling wall fountains. It was rather nice to sit and listen to the falling water, which you can hear from anywhere in the front of the restaurant. The décor was something I would expect for a fine restaurant rather than a hospital cafeteria.
The layout seemed odd to me and empty. I wasn’t quite sure what to do at first as I had no clue as to what kind of dining they offered. There was a plasma TV with menu items tucked into a corner so I went over to it and discovered that there was a cafeteria around the corner, completely hidden from the entrance areas. The cafeteria was a round room and on one side there is a self-help section with salads, snacks, parfaits, bottled drinks, and baked goods. The center of the room held a crowed tiny island that offered soups. The side opposite the self-help section held what looked like a sandwich station and a grill station. Opposite the entrance there were two large island cashier stands.
The seating area was quite large and in several sections. It seems like it should have been quite possible to find a quiet place to sit even if they had been quite busy. The way it was arranged seemed like they weren’t quite sure what to do with all the space they had. There were large open areas and then seating crowded into other spots. I had to ask where the silverware was as it was against a far wall. Overall the effect of the space was quite nice though. It was relaxing and the sound of water was wonderful. With all the hard surfaces I think it would be quite noisy when they are busy, but the space is so large that it would take quite a few people to make it seem busy.
The space seems so new that it’s hard to tell how well they are keeping it. Every table in one seating section was dirty, every one of them. Someone came out and cleaned tables while I was there, but it seemed odd that there should be so many dirty tables when there were few customers and it was well past any lunch rush.
I’m not sure why it’s called Creekside. You can’t see the creek anywhere from the restaurant and although there is one nearby, it’s either faced away from it or not on the creek. I get turned around with all the new construction they’ve done, but I don’t think that building is next to the creek. It would have been lovely if they could have a nice view of the creek to go along with the name.
Creekside is a cafeteria so service is somewhat hard to judge. As stated above all the tables were dirty and that doesn’t seem to bode well. There was one person stocking the self-serve section and he was helpful or tried to be. He was quick to point out that the grill was open. But that was the weird thing. None of the stations were manned; there was no one else working in the public area. You could see several people working in the kitchen, but no one out and about to help people. I finally found a small sign on one of the counters telling you to order at the check-out. This would have been confusing, as the registers you could easily see were not attended, if it had not been for a group of people standing at a counter just around a bend in the counter. I went around a slight corner and finally saw the sign that said Order and Pick-up.
So, the people working there were great. They were friendly and helpful, but the layout and amount of people scheduled was not impressive.
Creekside offers an interesting assortment of healthy food as well as a nice selection of desserts; some you could call healthy (yogurt and fruit or granola parfaits, fruit bowls) and others that are not (carrot cake, red velvet cake, donuts, cookies). There was a deli style sandwich counter; you could order a custom sandwich. The grill items were limited but they looked tasty; they had a hamburger, mushroom burger, as well as a salmon burger. It looked like all of these options were $5 with sides running about $1.50. It also seemed like they might have entrée options during their busier times (I was there around 3:30-4 pm). A sign at the front of the cafeteria explained the local sources of several of their items.
The large group at the order station convinced me that I should go for a salad from the self-serve section. A small salad, 2 cups and veggies only, was $2. The only large salad option available was a Roasted Chicken Greek Salad for $4.85. It looked pretty good, a mix of lettuces, chopped red and green bell peppers, pepperoncini, olives, slices of roasted chicken breast, and a nice amount of feta cheese. Everything was fresh and crisp, it had obviously been made fairly recently. Why do restaurants slice chicken breast for a salad? I know it looks pretty, but it’s a pain to eat. It would have been much better if they had chopped the chicken breast. But that is my only complaint, it was really quite tasty.
I rounded my meal out with a brownie topped with some kind of coconut mix, $0.75. It was lovely, cooked all the way through but still moist and almost gooey. I have to say I was quite pleased with my meal as well as the price. There were a large range of bottled juices, waters, and sodas to choose from.
This isn’t a place I would seek out to eat at. I try not to go anywhere near the hospital unless I have business there, the parking and construction is awful. But, if you’re at the hospital and in need of sustenance it’s nice to know that you don’t have to leave the grounds and worry about finding parking or managing the construction coming back, you can have a nice meal right there at the hospital.
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