By Marshall Ervine (Photo by Tim Hanger)

Have you had an opportunity recently to eat at the Heilman Dining Center? It’s open not only to students and faculty, but also to Osher members and the general public. If you haven’t, then please try it because D-Hall, as it is called on campus, offers excellent food at reasonable prices.

The dining hall is located across from the Gottwald Science Center overlooking the lake. As you approach, you will see “CIBUS AD PUCANDUM” on the front of the building. If your Latin is rusty and you are planning to eat breakfast or lunch, Ethel Thomas will be able to give you the translation. Just ask her.

You will recognize Ethel at the cash register. She always wears one of the dozen or so different spider pins she has collected. With her 12 years of service at the dining hall, she has seen many students, faculty, staff, and Osher members pass by. If you have a chance to talk with her, you will find that she has the heart of a philosopher, and she is more than willing to give you her views on life with a charming, dry wit.

Entering the food court area of the dining hall can be overwhelming. There are so many choices! First, you will see the dessert counter, which is loaded with tempting treats almost guaranteed to increase your weight should you stand too close. Breakfasts can be hearty or light. There are even made-to-order omelets available. Lunch and dinner menus feature Italian fare, grilled items, vegetarian dishes, salads, comfort foods, and made-to-order deli selections. If you can’t decide what to get, Ethel recommends that you try the fried chicken.

The chefs and line staff have a passion for preparing quality food as is evident by several awards the dining hall has won recently. These honors include the Grand Prize Winner at the National Association of University Food Services 2010 Dining Awards and third place in the Vegan Recipe Awards category. The Princeton Review has named the University of Richmond to its list of the top 20 colleges and universities with the best food.

After you have eaten more than you should and are heading out the door, be sure to wave to Ethel. She knows you’ll be back, and as she says to a few of the Osher hikers who eat breakfast before each hike, “I’ll be right here when you come back, my love!”