You pay about £200 a term within your room rents (so you only pay what’s quoted on the rooms system!) to cover Catering staff costs and other overheads to keep the price of food in the Buttery and Hall as cheap as possible (this is called the Kitchen Fixed Charge or KFC). It’s a common system in Cambridge, and without it food prices in College would skyrocket. John’s food is arguably the best in Cambridge and it’s worth making the most of it.
Buttery Dining Room
Located in Second Court, the Buttery serves three meals a day (no breakfast on Sunday) in a canteen-style setting. The food really is very good and definitely better than the majority of other Cambridge colleges. The Buttery itself is sophisticated yet understated, strip lit and always packed. The friendly and helpful staff make every meal an enjoyable experience and eating here is an excellent way to get to know people in college. Plus, where else can you get a steak dinner for less than £3?!
The Buttery Dining Room is open all day during term time with a set menu for lunch and dinner, including a daily vegetarian option. It caters for those with food intolerances as well as regularly offering free-range meat. There’s always a Soup of the Day, and you can get baked potatoes or help yourself to the salad bar if you fancy something lighter. The sandwiches and sushi boxes are a perfect choice if you’re going to be out at the department or at a sports training over lunchtime. They also offer Fair Trade and organic products, as well as locally-sourced items. In the mornings and afternoons, they are open for snacks, paninis and a wide range of teas and coffees.
Breakfast (Mon-Sat) 08:00- 09:15: Full English breakfast (except Saturday), as well as toast, croissants, porridge fruit and cereal (although it must be said that most people do just buy cereal and milk from Sainsbury’s for breakfast in their room most days).
Morning Opening (Mon-Fri) 10.00 -11.45: Snacks, paninis, sandwiches, drinks
Lunch (Mon-Fri) 12:00-13:45 (Sat- Sun) 12.00-13.30: Sandwiches, salads, soup, baked potatoes and a hot meat/fish and veggie option. Saturday lunch is a (very popular!) all-day breakfast (they do veggie sausages too!), and Sunday is always a roast.
Afternoon Opening (Mon-Fri)14.30-17.45: Snacks, paninis, sandwiches, drinks
Dinner (Mon-Sun) 18:00-19:30: Two meat/fish and a veggie option with the usual salads, sandwiches, and a selection of tasty puddings!
Halal and kosher food
Halal food is available most days in the buttery and can be requested from staff when the the Halal sign is displayed next to the food. The food on display however will not be Halal. Hall can also be booked with the Halal and Kosher options.
Hall is one of the traditional Cambridge moments; a formal three-course meal in the imposing surroundings of our four-hundred-year-old dining Hall, complete with oak panels and lots of old men (real and pictorial). You wear your gown and a Latin grace is said at the beginning and end (you must stand up and be silent for this — find out more about the rules here). Also, only take photos once the fellows have finished dining! Again, John’s has one of the best Formal Halls in Cambridge, and all your friends from other colleges will definitely want to come along.
Tickets can be bought on your Buttery card from the tills in the Catering and Conference Office in Second Court, the Bar or the Buttery, or you can register your card on Upay for the option of ordering it online (instructions will be available during Freshers’ Week). You’re allowed to bring up to two guests with you, or more if you ask for special permission from the Dean. The basic ticket with no drinks (water is served on the table) is around £5, or you can choose to get either elderflower or wine for an extra £3 or so. The wine is much nicer stuff than you’ll find in Sainsbury’s – Bill Brogan, College’s Catering and Conference Manager, goes to a special effort to source it from exclusive vineyards, and pair it with each course.
But there are also plenty of places to eat in and around the city of Cambridge itself. Check out where we recommend for eating out of College…