This week brought us to the esteemed halls of Univ. Greeted in the buttery by the all-familiar BBC theme tune playing on a TV perched above a vending machine, however, we didn’t feel like we were at Oxford’s ‘oldest’ college. There was a fine selection of sandwiches, yet ‘Peanut Butter & Shelley’ was not an option, which left us disappointed with the missed op-pun-tunity as we made a beeline for the hot food aisle.
Entering into the hall, however, with our plates piled high with the only veggie option, our eyes swam as they adjusted to the Gothic, and frankly dingy, architecture of Univ’s hall. Don’t get us wrong, it’s lovely: the stained-glass windows are gorgeous. But they’re useless for lighting and the only chink of light seems to emanate from a strange construction in the ceiling that could only be an oubliette for a certain Romantic poet-pamphleteer. Luckily, small LED lights panelled across the walls like girlish fairy lights provided just enough illumination for us to see Univ’s fine collection of paintings, most of whom are of dead white men, voyeuristically peering down at us pushing the quorn around on our plates.
Ah, quorn. This quorn, the bane of every vegetarian’s life, was a surprisingly apt choice for the dish. Thanks to its absorbency, it was nicely saturated with the relatively flavourless tomato sauce in which it was floating, lying on its deathbed of rice. Chewy and almost aggressively al dente, the rice was beyond unappetising. We did take great pleasure, though, in coming up with descriptions like “springy” and “bounces off the teeth”, which made the grains sound like tiny white party animals – it was basically an evening at Cellar in one’s mouth. The only salvation of the dish was the side of assorted root vegetables: tur- nips, parsnips and sweet potato, which were roasted and seasoned to near perfection.