Food at Merton is an experience not to be missed! Urban Legend has it that Merton has the best food in Oxford – because a very wealthy prince from a far away land had a few spare pounds to donate to the cause of culinary delights. The college also heavily subsidises food such that Merton students enjoy meals at far lower rates in comparison to other Oxford colleges and to anywhere else in the city.
Special dietary requirements are well-catered for. A variety of options exist for vegetarians and vegans, and hall staff are very happy to accommodate special arrangements for students with food allergies. All eggs served in hall are free-range and the quality of the meat products and fresh produce is very high.
Breakfast (8.15am – 9.15am, except Sundays)
Breakfast is served from Monday to Saturday. A selection of croissants, toast, cereal, yoghurt, fruit, orange juice, tea and coffee is available for £1.72.
Lunch (12.45pm – 1.45pm, except Sundays)
Merton’s lunches are often lauded as being the best value for money you can get at any college. For a flat price of £3.11, you are offered a choice of a meat or vegetarian main course and soup. There is also an open salad bar serving a wide range of cold cuts, salads and pasta dishes. Dessert is included in the meal price, along with bread and fresh fruit. During vacations, lunch operates on a pre-booking system and is concluded at 1.30pm.
Brunch (11am – 1pm, Sundays only)
Brunch is a proper English Breakfast – bacon, eggs, sausages, baked beans, hash browns, with a vegetarian option consisting of eggs, veggie sausages, baked beans, mushrooms and tomatoes. In place of the salad bar, warm toast and bread rolls are available along with yoghurt, tea, coffee and orange juice. Brunch is charged at the same rate as lunch. No pre-booking is required except during vacations. Vacation brunch runs from 11.30am to 12.30pm.
Early Supper (6pm – 6.15pm, daily)
There are two dinner options at Merton – early supper and formal hall, both of which cost £3.85. Unlike breakfast and lunch, both dinner options must be pre-booked online by 10am on the day of the meal (10am on Friday for weekend dinners). Menus are available in the booking portal for the week ahead. Early supper is a two-course meal consisting of a main course and dessert and is served every evening of the week. Early supper is concluded at 6.45pm on Saturdays and 6.30pm during vacations.
Formal Hall (7.15pm, except Saturdays)
Formal Hall is a three-course meal (starter, main course and dessert) held during Full Term. Wine is not served but you are welcome to bring your own. Glasses and corkage are provided. It is customary to dress in formal attire (including gown) during this meal. Grace is said in Latin prior to the start of the meal.
Merton College is unique in offering its graduate students the chance to dine at High Table once a term. High Table dining is available by ballot every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday of Full Term. This represents the opportunity to engage in conversation with members of the Senior Common Room over dinner, and it is not unheard of for research collaborations to be born this way. High Table dining is a four-course meal on Tuesdays and Thursdays (three courses on Sundays) which is free of charge, but you will be charged on battels for any wine consumed. The dress code is similar to that for Formal Hall, except on Sundays where black tie is stipulated. You may opt to partake in second desserts after dinner.
Meal Payments and Guests
Merton hall operates on a cashless system for all meals. Meals may be prepaid for in person at the Bursary, online, or by leaving an envelope with cash or cheques addressed to the Bursary at the Lodge. Breakfast, lunch and brunch are paid for by scanning your university card on entry to the hall. All dinners and vacation meals are paid for via the online pre-booking system. Up to three guests may be signed in per student.