Formalising: Christ Church

Student Life

Whenever anyone mentions Christ Church Formal hall, the standard response always involves Harry Potter. Obviously, learning that this is the location of Hogwart’s Great Hall was a pretty exciting discovery, and I went into the meal with high expectations. Unfortunately, however, my experiences were far from magical.

I eagerly paid my fiver and filed into what was a surprisingly small room, and was presented almost instantly with a bowl of soup. I say bowl, but that’s an exaggeration. It was about a tablespoon’s worth of liquid butternut squash. It wasn’t unappetising, but equally, it wasn’t the most exciting starter I’ve ever had either. The serving was so ungenerous that when I added a sachet of pepper, it took up more space in the bowl than the actual soup. I was pretty desperate for a more substantial main course.

I don’t know whether the economic crisis has really hit Christ Church’s catering department, but the piece of salmon that appeared next probably could have done well to be served with its own magnifying glass. Again, it was nicely cooked but for the price I was paying I felt it could have been a bit more adventurous or just a bit…bigger. The sides were the standard potatoes and an odd courgette mixture which tasted as though a tin of plum tomatoes had just been tipped over it. Which in fairness it probably had: the Christ Church chefs had already proved they weren’t really standing on the cutting edge of culinary invention.

Pudding was a chocolate tiffin slice, and the highlight of the meal. It was decadent: just the right mix of soft chocolate and crunchy biscuit. Christ Church didn’t permit us to have any cutlery for this course (another symptom of the cuts?), prompting a fellow diner to ask exasperatedly: “do we just have to eat with our hands?!” And that we did.

All in all, Christ Church was a fairly underwhelming dining experience and certainly not worth the money, which is on the higher end of the formal price range. But you can basically say you’ve had dinner at Hogwarts, which can always be chalked up as an invaluable win.

Katya Balen