Food, SCOTUS, Supreme Court, Washington Post

Eating at the Supreme Court Cafeteria: A Cruel and Unusual Punishment?

Last month, the employee cafe in the D.C. office of Skadden was briefly closed for health code violations. Meanwhile, across town, the Supreme Court cafeteria continues to operate — even though some apparently think it should be struck down like an errant statute.

On what grounds? For serving fare that violates evolving standards of decency. That seems to be the view of a reporter from the Washington Post (via Josh Blackman):

This food should be unconstitutional, we agreed, as my two companions and I sat in the court’s sparsely populated dining area, examining the wan offerings we’d just received.

The restaurant review is part of the WaPo’s ongoing review of federal government cafeterias. Based on the harsh write-up for Cafe Scotus, it sounds like the judiciary is — with apologies to Alexander Bickel — the most dangerous branch.

So, what are some of the specific dishes panned by the Post?

It’s no wonder that Justice Scalia likes to lunch at Tosca. The Court cafeteria’s red meat options leave something to be desired:

The chef’s special, herb-crusted roast beef with rice pilaf and roasted zucchini ($8.25), came sans herb crust and pilaf. The result was a sad-looking dish with an overly salty sauce and merely edible squash.

But the four liberals on the Court, who are probably more vegetarian-leaning, won’t be happy either:

The veggie burger ($5.75), which consisted of what we thought was spinach and a few pieces of chopped carrot and bell pepper, managed to be too dry on the outside and falling-apart mushy on the inside.

Mushy on the inside. Maybe Justice Kennedy might enjoy it?

The prepared salad of mixed greens with apple and walnuts ($5.95) — not the promised pecans — was okay, although the chunks of feta were too big for one bite, and the surplus of vinaigrette sent me into a short bout of coughing.

Bar exam study question: If Washington Post writer Becky Krystal suffered injury, due to choking on excessive vinegar in the salad, can she sue the Supreme Court cafeteria?

In fairness, perhaps the reviewer visited the Court on an off day for the kitchen. The two reviews on Trip Advisor are positive (although several years old). With the Court all done for the Term, and the justices scattered to the winds, Cafe SCOTUS might not be giving its offerings strict scrutiny. Are the cooks getting a bit arbitrary and capricious?

But the Post isn’t alone in condemning the fare at One First Street. Josh Blackman of Fantasy SCOTUS is also not a fan: “I have eaten there a few times, and was quite disappointed. Maybe the Chief can do something about this, now that the doors are forever sealed.”

I’ve eaten at Cafe Scotus just once, and I honestly have no memory of it — which, given the negative reviews, may be just as well.

P.S. These are just excerpts from the Post piece. To find out what Krystal and her dining companions thought of the salmon rice bowl, or to learn the identity of their favorite dish, check out the full review.

WaPo Restaurant Reviewer Gives Supreme Cafeteria an F [Josh Blackman]
How federal government cafeterias stack up: Supreme Court Cafeteria [Washington Post]
The Supreme Court Cafeteria [TripAdvisor]

Earlier: Skadden D.C. Cafeteria: Closed for Health Code Violations!

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