Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Dining at Google


On my last trip home, I had a chance to visit the Google campus and dine at one of the famed cafes, courtesy of one of my good friends, “E,” who works at Google. I was pretty excited after reading so many articles discussing the gourmet cafeteria offerings.

When Google opened its main campus in Mountain View, it generated a lot of buzz for the perks being offered to employees, especially the free meals at the campus cafes.  Currently, Google boasts more than 20 cafes, each specializing in different cuisines, offering its employees plenty of choices. Employees eat for free and can also host friends and family occasionally for free meals as well. Cafe food choices include Japanese fusion, French, Chinese, vegetarian, American fine dining (with offerings like kobe beef burgers), just to name a few.

I had no particular preference, so I let E do the choosing. We met him in front of one of the main buildings, Building 44, where I was almost overcome with cuteness. Larger than life desserts and Android figures??  It was like waking up to my own personal Winter Wonderland. How I would love to be greeted to this sight of life-sized food figures every morning.

For those unfamiliar, each android operating system is named after a dessert. The lawn display reflects all the operating systems to date. My favorite is the “Ice Cream Sandwich” since it is in the shape of a cute Android. We got a quick tour of the inside while we waited for my other good friend and E’s wife, “K.”

Inside, I found a life-sized smart phone. It was pretty cool watching people play cell phone games on it. There was also this alien figure. Not sure why. And a cool, batman-esque motorcycle. Apparently there is a running joke that one of the founders of Google is secretly Batman since he is so wealthy. There is also coffee and a smoothie machine station, but it was a little too cold that day for smoothies and the coffee machine was a bit too complex to operate.

Okay, more tour stuff later. Now onto the food! The cafes are spaced out over the large campus, allowed employees some fresh air and exercise as they walk to their food destination. E chose to take us to “Nourish,” as it was only a short distance and less crowded.

Here, the emphasis is on healthy meals. I like that there is this option. Eating cafeteria food everyday can be a health concern, so it’s nice to know that employees can eat out everyday and still have tasty and healthy options.

Once inside, all the food is already pre-made and served buffet style. However, the food isn’t sitting on steam trays. Instead, the cooked food is placed in small skillets, so they are often being refilled with fresh food.

I didn’t take any pictures of inside the cafe. First, I didn’t know if it was allowed and I also didn’t want to make my friends wait. One thing I found really interesting are all the drink options. They have a whole fridge dedicated to different types of bottle waters. It offers what appears to be every kind of bottled water possible except plain water, which can be found sitting in pitchers at the tables. They also serve a variety of juices and sodas and a spa water which is flavored with cucumbers.

There was a salad bar which offered the typical salad options and some soups. There were also some wraps and some appetizer bites like these stuffed mushrooms I got.

The hot food area offered several entrees. I wish I had a chance to take down the name of the dishes to provide you with the enticing descriptions, but my phone wasn’t being cooperative. I got a little of everything, including grilled tofu, brown rice, black eyed beans, poached eggs, chicken, butternut squash mash.

Dessert offering include a soft serve ice cream machine, huckleberry crumble, and a blueberry cake.

Each table has one of these little zen gardens to play with.

Another really interesting features of all the google cafes are the color codes. Foods are labeled green, yellow and red depending on nutritional value. Green means eat as much as you want, yellow means slow down and red means stop.

I found the food to be pretty tasty. It wasn’t amazing, but it was definitely better than any cafeteria food I have ever experienced. And it’s free. I had no problem eating everything on my plate.

After lunch, E and K took us on a quick tour of the campus. Google really seems to emphasize on keeping its employees healthy. The campus is stocked with google bikes, which people can ride around. (The picture of the one below is actually a broken one. When one breaks down, the seat is supposed to be placed inside the basket.) We also passed by a volleyball court.

Some other employee perks we passed by included free dry cleaning, haircuts and oil changes.

We also passed a small garden that Google grows.

Building 43 has a pretty cool Google Earth set- up but there were too many people eager to try it out. It also has a space museum.

We passed by this dinosaur flamingo display which I found interesting and a little confusing. It appears the flamingos killed the dinosaur?

We had a really fun time seeing the campus, dining there, and spending time with E and K. I really loved the Google campus. Though if I worked there, I think I’d spend the whole time eating at the cafes and snack areas.

Some other random observations:

  • Despite all the touristy parts of Google’s campus, it is a closed campus. All buildings require an employee badge to get in, so you need to know someone to tour the campus.
  • Google maps is so detailed when it comes to the campus that I was getting directions on my phone GPS navigating me through the parking lot to reach a certain building.

Here is a space invader face made out of post-its displayed on the windows of one of the buildings:

 

21 Responses to “Dining at Google”

  1. 1

    Jess Wakasugi {Life's Simple Measures} — November 15, 2011 @ 6:35 am

    Wow, what an amazing campus! No wonder they’re so creative over there ;)

    • Kirbie replied: — November 15th, 2011 @ 9:25 am

      Yeah this was only a small portion of it too. When we drove onto the campus we drove past a ton of different google buildings.

  2. 2

    Manda — November 15, 2011 @ 9:20 am

    I LOVE the Android OS desserts…those are too adorable!

    • Kirbie replied: — November 15th, 2011 @ 9:27 am

      Me too. I think part of the reason I got my android phone was because of the names of the operating systems. haha.

  3. 3

    Darlene — November 15, 2011 @ 12:03 pm

    Very cool roundup. I think I can safely say that it’s all our dream to work out Google and reap in the perks!

    • Kirbie replied: — November 15th, 2011 @ 1:45 pm

      I’m definitely campaigning for FH to try to find a job there. I did a search myself but didn’t see anything I’m qualified for.

  4. 4

    Kay — November 15, 2011 @ 2:39 pm

    So cool! Thanks for the mini tour!

    • Kirbie replied: — November 15th, 2011 @ 4:45 pm

      You’re welcome! I wish I had time to take more pics of everything, but we only met during his lunch hour and I didn’t want to stall too much.

  5. 5

    caninecologne — November 15, 2011 @ 4:07 pm

    wow, now that’s a company with some major perks! cool photos pix as well!

    • Kirbie replied: — November 15th, 2011 @ 4:46 pm

      Seriously. I’m pretty sure I didn’t even mention or see half of the stuff offered.

  6. 6

    Mika — November 15, 2011 @ 6:31 pm

    I visited Google, too, with my friend who interned there. I loved the food, since it’s far and above the food on my college campus. And you have to pay for that! Did you see the yellow conference bikes? Those were my favorite useful contraption :)

    • Kirbie replied: — November 16th, 2011 @ 9:28 am

      No I didn’t see the yellow conference bikes. Too bad. You’re lucky you have a friend there too!

  7. 7

    Carol — November 16, 2011 @ 8:57 am

    That is so cool!

  8. 8

    Faye — November 16, 2011 @ 2:25 pm

    What an amazing experience! I remember seeing a documentary on Google and they gave tour of campus and I just thought, wow wow wow. Free food? WTH.

    Glad you had a good trip!

    • Kirbie replied: — November 16th, 2011 @ 2:37 pm

      Hi Faye! Haven’t heard from you in a while! Yeah free food. Very very lucky!

  9. 9

    Rodzilla — November 16, 2011 @ 3:51 pm

    That’s so cool. I’ve heard great things from people who work at the offices in NYC and Pitt, but I dont’ think they can compare to this.

    I’m almost surprised they let you take pictures, I’ve heard they like to keep things pretty low key.

    • Kirbie replied: — November 16th, 2011 @ 4:13 pm

      Yeah I think the best is probably Mountain View since its their headquarters. I don’t think anyone saw me take the pictures. I was pretty quick about it. It was really hard to find any info on their cafes though. I was searching the internet for more info when doing my post and couldn’t really find anything.

  10. 10

    Alyssa — November 19, 2011 @ 7:36 am

    You’re so lucky! What a great place to tour and dine. I think Google knows that it’s doing, because if I worked there, I don’t think I would want to leave work either!

    • Kirbie replied: — November 19th, 2011 @ 11:04 am

      Yeah I haven’t heard many complaints from people who work here.

  11. 11

    Kim — November 20, 2011 @ 9:59 pm

    Looks like a really awesome campus! I’ll have to bug my cousin about giving me a tour when I go up there to visit her.

    • Kirbie replied: — November 20th, 2011 @ 11:50 pm

      Oh yes, if you know someone who works there, definitely try to get a tour and some lunch. It’s pretty cool.

Leave a Comment

*

Please leave these two fields as-is:

Protected by Invisible Defender. Showed 403 to 1,229,211 bad guys.