It’s not exactly a secret, but nobody is really shouting about the dinners at the NSCC Akerley Campus in Dartmouth from any rooftops. And I don’t know why. These dinners are one of the best bargains in town.

Dinner clubs,  multi-course ticketed meals and tasting menus have become more popular than ever in the last year, and price tags for those dinners seem to be escalating along with popularity. So these dinners on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays throughout the culinary school’s term are a welcome entry with a la carte lunches and dinners for the first two days of service, and a buffet dinner on Thursdays. Prices for the a la carte items mostly run between $7 and $12, and the buffet comes in at a tidy $37.50. Over this winter term, the 2nd year culinary students are designing the menus as part of their final projects.

Here’s the most important thing: NSCC culinary and pastry arts students generally knock it out of the park. You see their work every year at Decadence, the chocolate, cheese and wine night during the Savour food & wine Festival. They are creative, thoughtful and dedicated to making exciting, well-crafted food. They are keen and they are able. You can’t ask for more than that.

In December, I went to one of the dinners at Akerley with my friends Kristina and Mark. Sure, having dinner at Akerley campus is like going to a hotel restaurant in the middle of a low security prison, but the food is absolutely worth the Prison Break ambiance. At the dinner in December, we had the best macaron any of us had ever had in Halifax as a part of the pastry arts students’ dessert buffet. We had a beautifully balanced borscht and an indulgent salad with a rich, perfectly soft-boiled quail’s egg. We ate well. To put it in student terms, it was an A+. To put it in eBay terms, it was an A+++, would eat again.

Here are some of the lovely things we ate: