Wadham. The queerest, edgiest, leftest place this side of Shoreditch. It’s gonna be vegan, really, isn’t it? Surprisingly not. Actually, I’ve eaten some of the best fish I’ve had at Oxford in Wadham. Their pesto sea bass is nothing like the frozen battered cod that I’ve grown used to.
I stride hopefully past the porters, anticipating a filling meal which will satisfy my pescatarian protein lusts. Alas, today is sadly different. Firstly, the venue is disappointing. I get the whole idea of the egalitarian college and removing the snobbery of Oxford. But if you have a beautiful 17th century hall, then use it. Modern canteens are all well and good. It is, however, just wasteful to have two differ- ent dining venues within 50 metres of one another. If I wanted postmodern concrete with actually quite good food, I’d have gone to the English Faculty cafeÌ. I grudgingly sit on a plywood chair when I know a nice oak one is awaiting me across the quad. It’s cold and not accommodating to silk shirts.
At least I know I have a good meal waiting for me at the end of the stainless steel gangway. Wrong. The salad bar is well equipped. The pasta looks decent. Given my past experience, I go for the cod. What a mistake. Sitting across from my friend, I look longingly at her plate. I’ve never wished to be a vegan more.
I’m not usually a big fan of aubergine. My college murders them as the veggie option at formal hall. But Wadham’s is different. It is beautiful, a plump fleshy mass of lentils and tomatoes. My cod, on the other hand, is limp and dry. I push it around my plate. I mean, it’s cheap. But it’s also tasteless. I’m not sure what else to say. There’s only so much you can say about a sauceless, spiceless lump of flesh. The chips were okay. The baked beans may even have been Heinz, which my brand-loyal gran would approve of. But ultimately, it’s bland and no number of adjectives will make it sound any better. Even lashings of free communal cheese can’t make this meal any better. I leave, my plate more than half full.