Rating Bristol’s catered food: The good, the bad and the inedible

All for the mere price of £8.4k a year

As many catered halls residents know, the food has its ups, as well as most certainly having its downs.

From interesting combinations of concerningly ambiguous salad bar options, to yummy cohesive meals that actually make sense; catered food is an interesting experience, which always keeps us on our toes, wondering what we will be so lucky as to get next.

Let’s start with the bad, so we can end on a good note.

Pictured above: ambiguous salad bar option

The classic carb with a slab of meat

After a long, hard day of lectures and essay writing, you jump on the U1 back over the downs and are ready for a hearty dinner as your pre-night out fuel, when you’re presented with a halls favourite: some form of plain carb with under seasoned, often dry meat (or a just as exciting veggie equivalent).

These kinds of meals would frequently be accompanied with a sizeable portion of over-boiled mini carrots. These carrots were a very regular occurrence, no one is quite sure why, as I struggle to recall seeing anyone eat them, let alone enjoy them.

We get it, it’s quick and easy, but it wouldn’t harm anyone to whack a bit of flavour on every once in a while.

The most important meal of the day

Halls breakfast was controversial, with a mixed bag of responses. The breakfast itself usually went down well, everyone knows a fry up is the number one hangover cure, and it tastes even better when you don’t have to cook it yourself.

However, if a greasy English breakfast half an hour after you’ve rolled out of bed isn’t how you want to start you day, then fear not; the dinner ladies have you covered. There are also fresh pastries, cereal, fruit, yoghurt, and many a toast option. Well and truly spoilt for choice.

Most of us, if we actually manage to make it to breakfast, will leave a happy fresher. But that is where the very issue lies: on weekdays, breakfast opens 7.30-9am. For first year students, whose lifestyles largely revolve nights out and lazy mornings, you can probably imagine most of halls only makes about five per cent of breakfasts over the course of the year (at the weekends we were treated to 10-11.30am instead, which sat far better).

Top tier

The pasta dishes in halls quickly become everyone’s favourite: filling, familiar and sometimes even complimented with garlic bread, parmesan and perhaps even olives, to really top off the fine dining feel.

A few more consistent winners are of course the Friday night “Chinese takeaway”, as well as Thai-green curry and lasagne.

In the spirit of being as eco-friendly as possible by avoiding food waste, we would be sure to see any leftovers on the salad bar the following day for us to enjoy all over again.

Overall, would 8/10 recommend to a friend. As a lazy student you really are winning with catered halls, as much as we all liked to complain here and there.

It would be rude not to mention the (mostly) lovely dinner ladies as well. Those poor women have seen the worst of the worst hangovers, yet always greet us with a huge smile and ready for some morning chit chat, even if all they get in response is a half-asleep grunt and of course an apology for yet again forgetting their meal card.

So, if you ignore the fact the dining hall feels like school again, the food ever so slightly lacking in flavour and the fact that you’ll be surviving off over-boiled carrots for the year, then catered halls is the place for you.

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