The Fight of the Formal

Magdalen Christie 3 June 2015

Throw on your gown and heels, straighten your tie and pay your corkage, we’re heading to Formal.

A Cambridge Formal Hall is every tourist’s dream, and every Caius student’s regular meal, so TCS conducted some research to ensure you choose your next meal wisely. Read on for a comprehensive and definitely 100% scientific breakdown of the collegiate culinary efforts.

Special mention: Wolfson

Wolfson College Library. Image credit: Mihnea Maftei via Flickr

Although the graduate colleges were actually missed off the survey, a special mention must go to Wolfson College, where a TCS writer has had some of the nicest Formals of her Cambridge life so far. To quote this erudite journalist, "it’s expensive, but the food is fab, and the waiters are hot". You can’t go too wrong with that…

Trinity, Fitzwilliam, Corpus, Homerton: 4% of total votes each

"Solid Formal effort. Good food. Sometimes Homerton have owls."

A strange picture found in the depths of Flickr, of a 2003 Formal at Fitz. It seems gowns were not a thing in the noughties. Image credit: Neil Rickards via Flickr

Jesus, Magdalene, Trinity Hall, St John’s, Sidney Sussex: 7% of votes each

Mixed views about these Formals.

A first-year commented sadly on Magdalene: "I was taken in by the surroundings and the candlelight, but to be honest, the food was below par. The servings were small and there were some strange dumplings. Luckily the lemon meringue pie pudding saved things a bit."

As for John’s, as a recent ‘Overheard at Cambridge’ conversation reported:

 "I don’t enjoy Formals at John’s"

"Why’s that?"

"They serve from the left"

A First for food, but a Third for etiquette. Publish that in the Senate House.

Clare, Murray Edwards: 11% of total votes each

Tables set for a Clare Formal. Images credit: Benedict Singer via Flickr

The Dome makes a Murray Edwards Formal pretty unique, and there was a successful International Students' Formal there last term. The student views were positive: "The dessert was amazing – a hot chocolate melt-in-the-middle pudding, with honey marshmallow on the side."

Emmanuel: 14% of total votes

Emma’s Formal Hall is apparently lovely. And indeed, who couldn’t enjoy a meal in that graceful duck-egg-blue Hall?

Pembroke: 28% of votes

Image credit: Lin Mei via Flickr

And so, ladies and gentlemen, fellows and freshers, please welcome the winner of the first Formal Fight. What’s quite so great about a Pembroke Formal is hard to pin down, but asking around, feedback includes "they allow pennying, which is cool".

What’s next? Reflect upon this research, take it to heart and to stomach. And wherever you are lucky enough to enjoy your next Formal meal, make sure you check out the waiters. 

Scientifically presented results to show Emma's good effort and Pembroke's culinary glory. Image credit: Romilly Beddow