One would assume that a hospital cafeteria would serve healthy food. Well, this assumption would be right. One also might assume that hospital food would be bland and uninspiring — not in this case.
On a recent visit to the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital to get my lab work, I decided to visit the cafeteria for lunch. My dear friend George (who happens to be employed at the hospital) had recommended it, and invited me to have a nosh there, prefacing the invite with, “The food is actually pretty good.” And he was right.
My first inspiration came on my walk down the long corridor to the cafeteria. The hallway was adorned with curated, Island-connected, awe-inspiring artwork. A real treat. I was then tickled by the first sign directing me to the cafeteria, highlighted with an arrow pointing left and the opposite pointing arrow to radiology. Not a normal optimum advert for an eating establishment. Being from an advertising background, I GQTM (giggled quietly to myself). But this isn’t a normal dining location, so I stayed the course.
Next, I was equally impressed by the daily specials menu board. Choice No. 1 was a BBQ braised beef short rib sandwich. What? Braised short ribs? At a hospital cafeteria? The second choice on the menu board was a salad consisting of kale, red cabbage, Craisins, carrots, Za’atar baked chickpeas, pistachios, baby corn, and fresh blueberries, topped with chicken or tofu. Holy hospital healthy. There were also special pizza choices, a soup of the day (cream of asparagus), and/or a fully stocked salad bar, among many other healthy choices. Last, I was super-impressed by the healthy-for-your-wallet prices. I eventually opted for the BBQ braised beef short rib sandwich (how could I not?), with shoestring fries, and fresh-cut fruit for only $6.75. The sandwich was juicy and tasty. The fries would easily score a 7 on a scale of one to 10, and the fruit salad was very fresh. Was it a huge sandwich? No. (But that’s healthy if you are eating short ribs, yeah?) The portions were not super-large, but they weren’t small either, and for the price, here on Martha’s Vineyard, it was well worth it. I also opted for the salad bar: at 40 cents per ounce — a great deal.
One thing to note is that salad bars are usually a no-no for me. I am from NYC, and every lunch spot has a salad bar, and these things are a playground for bacteria. People use the serving utensils and just put the handles directly on the food they just served themselves. So my original thought was, Don’t do a salad bar at a hospital where there are sick people. Maybe because of just that, at the MVH cafeteria, the staff fill your salad plate for you. They walk with you and you let them know what your choices are, and they “tong” it out for you. And this, I assume, is why the salad bar is so clean and fresh. I got a heaping plate of salad for only $6.
So for an off-the-beaten-path lunch (or breakfast), consider the MVH cafeteria. Healthy food, healthy atmosphere, healthy prices. Go in for a checkup, and check out great art, great food, at great prices.
Martha Vineyard Hospital cafeteria, 1 Hospital Road, Oak Bluffs. The cafeteria is located at the Windemere entrance. Patients and visitors are welcome. Hot meals are served for breakfast and lunch. Open weekdays only. Breakfast 6:45 to 10:45 am, lunch 11 am to 2 pm. Grab-and-go from 2 to 3 pm.