Self-service meals

Cafeteria-style self-serve meals are available from the Servery between the following times:

Lunch: Monday to Friday 12.30pm – 1.30pm

Brunch: Saturday 11.30am – 12.30pm

Brunch: Sunday 11.00am – 12.45pm

Dinner: Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday 6.00pm – 6.45pm

            Tuesday and Thursday 6.00pm - 7.00pm

For cafeteria-style self-service meals, go to the Servery with your University Card, collect a tray and cutlery and make your choices from the wide selection of dishes on offer. There is always at least one hot vegetarian or vegan dish available, as well as a salad bar.

Pay for your meal by going to one of the tills that are situated near the Hall doors. Give the operator your card and, if it is valid, your name will appear on the screen. Your meal selection will be keyed in and charged automatically to your College bill, which you pay at the end of each Term. You may have a receipt if you wish.

You may sit anywhere in the Hall except at the High Table if it is laid up for Fellows (at the right-hand end of the Hall as you enter from the Servery). After your meal you should clear away your tray and dirty plates etc. onto one of the tray trolleys.

Reciprocal dining rights exist at Churchill College and Girton College. Downing students are able to obtain lunch at either Girton College itself or at its satellite site, Wolfson Court.

The Butterfield Café and Bar

The Lord Butterfield Café and Bar serves breakfast sandwiches and, later, a large range of made-to-order hot and cold baguettes, snacks, cakes and speciality coffees. There is a large flat screen television, Wi-Fi, and plenty of space to relax.

Opening times for the Café are:

Full Term: Monday to Friday 8.00am – 6.00pm

Full Term: Saturday 10.00am – 4.00pm

Outside Full Term: Monday to Friday 8.00am – 4.00pm

The Bar is open to all members of the College during hours recommended by the Bar and Amenities Committee (usually 7.30pm - 11.30pm), on which students and Fellows are represented.

The Butterfield Building also has a large party room in the basement for social events, which may be booked by emailing the JCR Entertainments (Ents) Officer.

Formal Hall

Formal Hall is held on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday evenings from 7.30pm – 9.00pm during Term only. These times are subject to revision; please check the notice board outside the Hall. Attendance at Formal Hall is never compulsory.

On these days you may choose to dine at Formal Hall instead of using the cafeteria service. Formal Hall is a fixed-price fixed-menu formal dinner with waiter service. It is an occasion for junior members to bring in students from other colleges and other visitors as guests. Coffee is served as part of the meal.

Formal Hall code of dress

There is a code of dress for Formal Hall, which has been agreed by junior and senior members of the College.

Gowns must be worn, both by members of the College and their guests from other Colleges. The overall effect must be smart and respectful of the atmosphere of Formal Hall. The following attire is acceptable:

  • suits with shirt or blouse
  • long trousers with shirt or blouse. Jeans are allowed providing they are clean and in good repair. Shorts are not acceptable.
  • dress
  • skirt with shirt or blouse
  • neckties, cravats and polo necked sweaters are all acceptable, but open necked attire is not.

Formal Hall conduct

A Porter may be on duty at the entrance to Formal Hall and they, the Catering Manager or Catering Supervisor, will turn away anyone improperly dressed or who has been drinking excessively.

Once Formal Hall has begun, it is not expected that anyone will leave for any reason nor move around. To do so could prove disruptive and, when staff are serving, dangerous. In exceptional circumstances permission may be granted to an individual to withdraw but only when serving has been completed. Anyone leaving should not expect to be allowed to return.

All decisions about who may be admitted to, or remain at, Formal Hall, rest with the Catering Manager or Supervisor in charge. All behaviour, either by individuals or by groups, which affects the enjoyment of others is unacceptable.

The following activities are unacceptable in all circumstances and such behaviour can result in those involved being banned from Formal Hall:

  • the throwing of food
  • competitive drinking
  • the imposition of drinking fines
  • standing or banging on chairs and tables
  • stamping and abusive behaviour towards others, especially the staff.

These prohibitions apply equally to private or club dinners held in College. Such behaviour is equally unacceptable in public premises, such as hotels and restaurants.

Communal singing and the raising of toasts will not normally be permitted in the Hall unless the Presiding Fellow has consented. Permission must be sought either before the meal begins, or during the meal using the Catering Manager, Supervisor or the presiding undergraduate or graduate as intermediary.

Formal Hall booking

You must book yourself and guests into Formal Hall in advance via the UpayChilli. As space is limited, you may find that the event is already fully booked.

You may normally book for Formal Hall any time in advance up to 11.00 am on the day before the event, or for Sunday Formal Hall, 11.00 am on the Friday before. The system will not allow for cancellation and you will be charged for the meal whether or not you attend.

Permission should be sought from the JCR President or Secretary for more than five guests at Formal Hall and, in addition, from the Catering Manager for more than 10. Such permission is granted only in exceptional circumstances. College members are responsible for their guests, who must abide by the College’s codes of dress and behaviour. Please ensure that the Catering Manager or Deputy Catering Manager are informed in good time of any special dietary requirements of your guests.

Formal Hall begins at 19.30 and you must be in your place by that time. As you come into Formal Hall, a member of the catering staff will check your booking. You will be refused entry if you have not previously booked.

Bottles of wine may be purchased from the Buttery prior to Formal Hall using your University Card. Buttery opening times are from 7.00pm to 7.20pm on Formal Hall evenings only.

Club and private dinners can be provided where circumstances permit, but, to avoid waste, menus should be settled at least ten days in advance, and the final numbers attending cannot be altered later than 48 hours before the meal.

Meal charges

The price of each menu item on sale in the Servery is displayed on a price list. You will also be able to see the charges for each selection you have made as it is keyed into the till. Cost of an average main meal can be found on the Fees and Charges page although, of course, the exact cost depends upon your selection.

Charges for Formal Hall are lower for College members than for guests. If you wish to arrange a private Formal Hall please contact the Internal Events Co-Ordinator.

The key to using all catering services is your University Card, although you may pay by cash. If you do pay by cash and cannot produce identification showing that you are a Downing student, you will be charged an additional fixed charge per meal and if you cannot prove you are a student at the University your charges will also be subject to VAT.

Safety and general information

The College operates in line with stringent food safety legislation and guidelines. If you wish to discuss food safety issues, please arrange to see the Catering Manager or his Deputy.

Food is a very personal matter and the Catering Team are anxious to provide the kind of dishes you want.

If you have particular dietary requirements, the Catering Manager will accommodate your needs if he can. If you have a complaint about a particular meal it is important that you raise it immediately with a member of the Catering Team.

Comments and suggestions

If you have comments or suggestions of a more general nature please see the MCR and JCR representatives who have regular meetings with the Operations Manager and the Catering Manager to provide important feedback between staff and customers.

Graduate housing is equipped with good kitchen facilities. Whenever meals are not available in College graduates may go to the University Centre, which is open for most of the year.

For more information, please email the Catering Manager. The Catering Managers' Office is located on B staircase.

Details of the Catering staff can be found here.