The Buttery Dining Room (normally called just the Buttery) in Second Court, is an informal cafeteria open for three meals a day (except for Sunday breakfast). The atmosphere is casual and friendly, the quality of the food is usually good and the value (ignoring the obligatory fixed charge) is superb: approx. £2.50 for a cooked breakfast and £3.50 for a large two-course lunch or dinner. Along with hot meals, you will also find separate counters for: cold meats, hot desserts (e.g. pudding), cold desserts (e.g. yoghurt), drinks, sandwiches – not to mention the salad bar and jacket potato counter.
Weekends and Vacations
Breakfast – 8.00 AM to 10.00 AM (not on Sunday)
Lunch – 12.00 PM to 1.30 PM
Dinner – 6.00 PM to 7.30 PM
The Buttery is also often open between these times for you to purchase tea, coffee, sandwiches and cold drinks.
Dining in Hall
During full term, formal three-course dinners are served in the College’s beautiful Hall every evening except Saturday. Tickets must be purchased in advance – before 2pm on the day before the dinner – and currently cost £8.59 (£3 less if you forego wine) for Johnians and £10.59 for guests. The College requires members of college and their guests from other colleges to wear a gown, and most people dress up, e.g. suit for men, although this is not compulsory and undergraduates often dress more informally. Dinner begins at 7:30pm sharp with a traditional Latin grace, and tends to end around 9pm with another Latin grace.
Dinner is three courses followed by coffee. Those who purchase wine tickets (most people) are served three glasses of wine, either red or white for each glass, and the available wine is usually excellent. For those who don’t wish to have wine, non-wine tickets are available for £3 less. The only beverage option for the non-wine ticket is water. But if you wish to purchase a wine ticket and inform the staff at the dinner, they will supply you with a non-alcoholic drink instead.
Tickets can be purchased with your University card at the ticket machines in the College Bar and main-gate porters’ lodge, and online at www.upay.co.uk. Vegetarian, kosher, halaal, dairy/nut-free, and gluten-free meals are all available, and are booked in the same way as the default meal.
Taking family and friends to dinner in Hall is a justly popular way of entertaining: you may book up to three tickets in the normal way. It is possible to take up to four guests with permission from the Dean of Discipline, Dr Fox, by filling in a form, available from the Catering and Conference Office, a few days in advance; permission is normally granted. Alternatively, you may book tickets for Guest Table and treat your guests to the Fellows’ Menu, wine included.
One of the key aspects of graduate-student life at St John’s is BA Table. This is when one of the three tables in hall is set aside for graduate students only, and it takes place every Tuesday and Friday during full term. Make sure you purchase your BA Table ticket online well in advance, since it often sells out. A key part of the social aspect of BA Table is the Sherry & Port offered in the SBR before and after hall. One free glass of wine is supposed to be provided for everyone on Monday. Tickets for BA Table are available only to graduate students, and can be purchased in the same manner as regular hall tickets.
The College Bar
The Bar, next to the Buttery in Second Court, is a cosy place to have a pint or glass of wine at lunchtime or in the evenings. Games to play, papers to read, snacks to nibble on, bottles of College port and sherry, as well as a wide selection of alcoholic and soft drinks are also available. Payment for alcohol is by cash, though for soft drinks and snacks you can use your University card. The Bar is another key centre of social life for the whole college. The bar is open during lunch from 12:30-2:30pm and is a good spot for a post-prandial cup of coffee. It is open in the evening from 6:00pm-11:00pm (10:30pm on Sundays).