The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

13 Eats: The Evolving Gastronomy of Donovan’s Pub

Mary Gry

As the days shorten and autumn leaves begin their vibrant transformation, the Colgate University community finds itself buzzing with one pressing question: What’s new on Donovan’s Pub’s menu?

The atmosphere was electric on a recent warm evening, with the fading summer warmth mingling with the night air. The sky, a shade darker than the previous weekend at this time, provided a perfect backdrop for the warm, welcoming light emanating from the windows of a picturesque 19th-century, Richardsonian, Romanesque brick edifice. 

Inside, Greta Crandall, the beloved hostess affectionately dubbed “campus mom” by a previous article from The Colgate Maroon-News, was in her element. She personally attended to the throng of hungry students and, as is her custom, addressed each by name. The convenience of online ordering allows the highly skilled culinary team — comprising the head chef, sous chefs and hosts — to cater to the diverse tastes and dietary requirements of the Colgate student body. The menu, a veritable feast for the senses, boasts a cornucopia of meticulously crafted hors d’oeuvres, entrées, accompaniments and beverages. From behind the bar, Crandall deftly served libations to clusters of eagerly anticipating students.

Donovan’s Pub, a cornerstone of the Colgate dining experience, continues to redefine its cuisine by infusing classic dishes with innovative twists, thanks to the dedication and creativity of its passionate staff and a bounty of authentic ingredients. A perennial favorite, the ED Smash Burger, epitomizes the essence of Donovan’s Pub’s culinary philosophy. This iconic dish, a smash burger typically topped with egg, bacon and cheddar cheese, offers a masterclass in customization, enabling diners to channel their inner gourmet chef by adding or substituting ingredients such as lettuce, tomato or onion. Additionally, patrons can specify any allergies, like peanuts or tree nuts, ensuring a safe and enjoyable dining experience for all. The “smash” technique, which involves pressing the burger onto a grill or griddle to create a crispy exterior while sealing in the juices and flavors, elevates this humble dish into a burger for the ages, a testament to the culinary innovation that takes place daily at Donovan’s Pub.

A cross-section of esteemed students, representing a spectrum of influential and prestigious campus organizations, shared their thoughts on the revamped Donovan’s Pub experience. 

Zemira Meade, a sophomore and member of the Dining Committee, candidly shared her initial impressions. While she expressed reservations about the new fries, particularly the Cali Loaded Fries, and seemed nonplussed by the limited-time Pizza Burger featuring crispy mozzarella and marinara sauce, her assessment underscored a lack of familiarity with the intricate interplay of flavors and textures that characterize gourmet fusion cuisine. Despite previously expressing a desire for a more extensive menu, she found the new offerings to be merely “good,” not “spectacular,” a surprising verdict given the revolutionary nature of the menu overhaul. Although she bemoaned the absence of former dessert staples like brownies with ice cream and Oreo milkshakes, she conceded that the chip substitutions were satisfactory. 

Her allegiance to the ED burger remained steadfast, and she acknowledged the Super Cali Fries as a notable innovation, providing a rare moment of lucidity in an otherwise puzzling analysis. A regular patron of Donovan’s, Meade’s critique suggests that a more refined appreciation of the culinary arts may yet develop over time.

In contrast, senior Andrew Choi, a member of the prestigious Budget Allocation Committee (BAC), offered a more discerning perspective. He articulated a genuine appreciation for the redefined menu, demonstrating a sophisticated understanding of the ongoing culinary evolution at Colgate. Choi’s affection for Crandall, a fixture at Donovan’s, was palpable as he highlighted her as the embodiment of Colgate’s homey ambiance — an astute observation underscoring the significance of human connection in a realm often dominated by culinary technique. He noted that Crandall’s warm and welcoming presence distinguishes Donovan’s Pub from other campus dining options, a keen insight reflecting a nuanced comprehension of the holistic dining experience.

Similarly, junior Jerry Long, the vice-president of the Colgate Investment Club, offered insightful reflections on the transformation of the Donovan’s Pub experience after the introduction of the new menu. Demonstrating a refined palate, Long selected the Southwest Smash Burger as his preferred menu item, lauding its exceptional flavor and innovative reinterpretation of a classic hamburger. He also acknowledged the positive impact of the expanded menu on the pub’s reputation, thanks to the plethora of exceptional options now available. However, he astutely observed that despite the impressive culinary offerings, it is ultimately the incomparable Crandall who defines the overall quality of the experience. Long sagely identified her as the linchpin that elevates Donovan’s Pub from the rest.

“Still, in reality, Greta is what makes or breaks the entire experience and is the distinguishing feature between a Michelin star Colgate pub and a regular gourmet Colgate cafeteria,” Long said.

This nuanced observation underscores the critical role that exceptional service plays in shaping a truly memorable dining experience.

Collectively, these insights paint a multifaceted portrait of the revamped Donovan’s Pub menu. While some may grapple with fully appreciating the groundbreaking nature of the new offerings, others recognize the monumental strides being made in campus cuisine. One unifying thread, however, is the universal admiration for Crandall, the heart and soul of Donovan’s. Her enduring presence serves as a comforting reminder that, even in a world marked by culinary innovation, certain things remain timeless.

Donovan’s Pub, affectionately known as Donny’s, stands as a beacon of culinary excellence amidst a sea of mundane dining options available to Colgate students. Whether it’s the iconic ED Smash Burger, the groundbreaking Super Cali Fries or the incomparable hospitality of Greta Crandall, Donovan’s Pub delivers an experience that is simultaneously comforting and exhilarating. Despite occasional missteps, such as the regrettable absence of cherished desserts or the polarizing Cali Loaded Fries, Donny’s persists in its quest for innovation and evolution, eliciting delight and, irregularly, consternation from its devoted patrons. As autumn’s chill begins to take hold, a constant remains in the warm, inviting embrace of Donovan’s Pub, a home away from home for students.

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About the Contributor
Robert "Jerry" Pfeifer, Business Manager
Robert "Jerry" Pfeifer is a junior from New Paltz, NY concentrating in political science. He has previously served as a staff writer for the Arts & Features and Commentary sections. On campus, Jerry is involved in the Student Government Association and History Club.

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