Formal Hall at Worcester certainly has a lot to live up to. Heavily subsidised by the ancestors of Lord Sainsbury, the food is prepared by some of Oxford’s finest chefs, and according to Worcester’s website, the college has a “well-deserved reputation for excellent food.”
Prices are actually tiered according to whether or not students have cooking facilities, which seems the fairest solution to Worcester’s disparate housing problem. Even so, it is great value – £3 at its most expensive and for many, even cheaper.
I arrived at Worcester starving hungry (in the compulsory gown and dress) to a fairly long, and according to my Classicist host, poorly pronounced Latin grace. I was soon offered the bread basket, and didn’t have to wait long before tucking in to my starter. The salmon and lime fishcake was beautifully presented in dressed salad leaves and had a deliciously crispy texture and Thai tang.
The main course was a loin of pork with a sage and pine nut dressing, on a pile of creamy truffle potatoes, served with carrots glazed in ginger, leeks, and peas. The meat was deliciously moist, especially when I drenched it in gravy. Although my host informed me that before last year students could help themselves to potatoes, and college were now restricting portions, I still found that all the servings were big enough. No seconds meant I didn’t feel sick afterwards.
My desert was also delicious – a sweet and crispy cherry frangipane tart in a pool of creamy custard, which was well received by everyone at the table. Some students to our left had requested a fruit plate instead of a normal pudding. Although personally I enjoyed it too much to sacrifice it for something healthy, I suppose it would be ideal for anyone who was watching their weight – and had a lot of willpower.
Overall, formal hall at Worcester was ridiculously tasty and great value for money. The formal dress code might be an effort, but if I was a resident student I’d be there whenever I could.