- a blog about food and value

Food at UCD

ucdYesterday, I ate the worst sandwich of my life. I bought it in the ridiculous UCD Arts Cafe (formerly known as Finnegan’s Break and, before that, as Hilper’s). The absurd cost for this limp, cold slice of lettuce, manky cheese, and flavourless pickle between two slices of gruesome bread was €4.05. I know – I’m an idiot to have paid this much but I was very hungry and in a rush so it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Then I noticed that Nine One One – that inferior sandwich place in the UCD Library Building and at Esso service stations – are promoting a “special offer” for UCD: €4.99 for a sandwich or baguette and any hot or cold drink. Given that they shouldn’t be charging any more than €3 for a sandwich or baguette and €2 for a coffee anyway, this is pretty insulting. Especially as their sandwiches are only marginally better than what’s on offer in the Arts Cafe.

The Elements Restaurant in the Science building seems to be the best value bet if you’re eating in UCD, although it’s always absolutely over-run at lunchtime so it can be a long wait.

I only teach the occasional class at UCD so I don’t need to be in there more than once a week. But when I did study there I, like everybody else, was stuck with either the on-campus eating option or a packed lunch. Where do you go for lunch in UCD and do you have any recommendations or warnings?


  1. Insomnia is the best for a sandwich, Elements for a meal.

    Student shop under the Library for cheapest and best coffee.

    The Arts Cafe should be boycotted for it’s ridiculously over-priced food and drink. Disgraceful!

    Best to take your own lunch with you I think.

  2. Wow, you’re not having any luck in Dublin’s campuses are you? First Trinity, now UCD? And people wonder why students always look so pale…

  3. I agree…the food at UCD is apalling!There is hardly any choice at all and what is on offer is overpriced, horrible stodge!God help the people who are healthy eaters – my brother goes to UCD and because he’s a healthy eater finds it so difficult to find anything to eat at lunch time… the packed lunch comes to the rescue instead!

  4. The “student club” bar does basic but decent freshly made sandwiches (now at 2.50 a pop) and also serves tasty enough hot food.

    Straight across from the student club, the main UCD canteen is quite disappointing. There’s a good (though pricey enough) sandwich counter on the ground floor. Upstairs the hot food is way over-priced and often stodgy. A better bet is Elements, but you pay more again, and as the main article says, it is too over-run.

    I disagree that 911 is “inferior”. I think it’s actually quite good and would always make a point of going there ahead of the Arts Cafe. If it’s a pre-packed sanwdwich ina hurry that one’s after, then you may aswell pay the lowest price in the SU shop under the Library.

    Other options on the peripheries of UCD include the Centra beside the Glemomena student residence (fresh made sandwiches) and the Spar outside the Roebuck Castle (Law) gate (again, fresh sandwiches). On the other side of campus, there’s an O’Briens in the Life Sciences building, the Conway Institute and also one near the Urban Institute (which is quite cool).

    Finally, there’s another fresh-made sandwich counter in the Student Centre, and hot food downstairs here as well as in the nearby Forum bar. I’ve never tried this though…

  5. Oh and I disgaree that Insomnia in the Quinn building is best for a sandwich. It’s just over-priced pre-packed fare. Good soup though.

  6. yep, UCD food is awful. I’ve been working here since 2003 and it’s not much improved. Elements is okay but too busy. The restaurant can be okay if you stick to Irish ‘classics’ (like fish & chips, or roast and veg) and stay away from anything with pretensions towards ‘ethnic’ cuisine (read: liberal dousing of cheap curry powder). The Arts Cafe is by far the worst value… they started offering sushi over the summer, which at first was okay when it cost around 4.50, but then they increased the price of the same box to almost 8 euro. What?!? It’s the most expensive pre-pack sushi I’ve seen anywhere in Dublin, at all. I really wish there was an alternative to the sandwich on campus somewhere 🙁 🙁

  7. UL isn’t too great on value either!

    On Tuesday I bought a cajun chicken sandwich for €4 in the cafe above the Jean Monnet room. Scandalous price for a pre packed sandwich.

    I’m a full time manager earning a decent wage but resent being ripped off like this.


  8. well i can tell you all now that the restaurant is by far the best place to eat in UCD. long days i spent pondering on life while eating my tuna sandwich, extra red onion. Probably the best times of my life. watch out for scruge though – shell scab you off at any chance. if you think hiding your red ketchup under your plate of chips will work, youve got another thing coming.and what about the student special – under cooked chips, a fried egg and bacon and a cup of tea for 3.40 – if thats not a bargain i dont know what is? Guys its time for you to experience the wonder that is THE RESTAURANT. Peace and love, ye lucky wee things still in college.