I went to the Minuteman Technical High School Fife and Drum restaurant in Lexington for lunch today. This restaurant is run as part of the culinary arts program. To go there, you need a reservation. Today, I called an hour before lunch and was able to get a table (781-861-6500 x270). However, another time I tried to get a table and they were completely booked. They have about 20 tables in the restaurant. I went on a Friday when they have a buffet. The rest of the week, they serve a couple different entrees. Friday is their most popular day. All the food is prepared by the students.
You park in the visitor’s parking area and go in the main entrance. Then up the stairs, straight back and to the left is the restaurant. You’re greeted by student hosts who take you to your reserved table. Every table is reserved with someone’s name on it. Even by myself, I had a small table. People don’t tend to share tables.
The student server takes your drink order. They offer a wide range of sodas by the can and served with a glass of ice. Then you can go help yourself to the buffet. Today’s buffet included a small salad bar. The hot foods offered were a carving station of roast beef, grilled chicken breast with a mustard sauce, and a baked fish. Sides included steamed vegetables, rice, and roasted red potatoes.
After you’ve finished your main meal, your server offers dessert and presents a dessert tray with 6-8 different selections including a cannoli, chocolate éclair, puff pastry with whipped cream and blueberries, chocolate mousse, and a pineapple cheese cake. From a baking perspective, that represented at least 3 different types of pastry dough. I’m impressed because most restaurants will only offer one or two types of pastry doughs in their menus. I went for the cheese cake because they can be difficult to make and I wanted to see how good their baking was. The cheese cake was good – not great and not bad. A smooth, dense, moist filling topped with what seemed to be a canned pineapple topping.
How do you judge the food prepared by high school students? The food is definitely better than what I was capable of preparing when I was in high school. Although this is a culinary arts program, it still is high school. I would consider the food to be good institutional food – along the plain and simple lines of what one might make at home. Carved roast beef is pretty much the same wherever you go. I went for the end-cut and it had a nice, rich flavor. The grilled chicken breast was dry and the mustard sauce was bland. There’s nothing fancy about rice, steamed vegetables or roast potatoes. Since it is a buffet, big eaters can keep going back for more.
For Friday’s buffet, it’s $7.95 for the buffet. Drinks and dessert are extra at $1 each. Sales tax is added on. The total bill is $10.65. The students are not allowed to accept gratuities, but you can leave a tip and it will go into a culinary student fund to help pay for a class trip. So with tip, the cost of my meal is similar to what one might pay if they went out for lunch at any other local sit down restaurant.
It was definitely worth going there at least once and I was impressed with what the high school students produced.