Hungry As a Bear: Meet Me at the Ratty

Be honest.  One of the things that scares you the most about going to college is not knowing what the food is like.  If you are worried about what you will be eating on campus once you arrive at Brown, look no further than Hungry as a Bear with Corrine Szczesny.

This week’s blog will highlight the Sharpe Refectory, or “the Ratty”, which is the largest dining hall at Brown.  I decided to start with the Ratty because I think most students would say they eat at the Ratty the most of all the places on campus.  There are several reasons for this, including the hours of operation, the variety of food served at each meal, and the location.

To begin with a refectory is another name for a communal dining hall at a monastery, boarding school, or educational institution (I had to look this up).  Named for Brown Chancellor Henry D. Sharpe, the Refectory opened in 1950.  The Ratty is located on Wriston Quad, just south of the Main Green.  The Sharpe Refectory was built to serve 1600 students in the main dining room, with eighteen private dining rooms to serve additional students.  When the Refectory opened diners were served by student waiters.  The cost was $215 a semester for 20 meals a week.  Today, the Sharpe Refectory, along with several other dining halls, serves over 6000 Brown undergrads and 2400 graduate students from 7:30am to 7:30pm Monday through Saturday and 10:30am to 7:30pm on Sundays.  Out of all of the dining halls on campus, the Ratty is the only one open and accepting meal credits for twelve hours a day.  The Ratty is also the first dining hall to reopen after a holiday break.

More about the Ratty after the jump!

The variety of food served is one of the main advantages of eating at the Ratty.  There are four different food service lines, the Bistro, Roots and Shoots, the Grill, and Chef’s Corner, along with a salad bar, two omelette stations (open for breakfast and lunch), a cereal bar, and a new crepe bar for Sunday brunch.  The Bistro is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, while the other food service lines do not open until lunch.  Although the menus change daily, there are several things you can always find at the Ratty.  The Grill always has hamburgers, hot dogs, grilled chicken, and french fries, along with deli meats and cheeses.  Roots and Shoots has vegetarian and vegan options for students.  Chef’s Corner has pizza and pasta.  Kosher and Halal meal options are also available for lunch and dinner everyday.

In my opinion, the best part of the Ratty is the desserts.  There is always soft serve ice-cream, with several toppings available, including sprinkles and M&Ms.  There are also desserts available at lunch and dinner.  Some of my personal favorites are the cookies and cream cheesecake and the chocolate espresso cake (see picture above).  Another great Ratty tradition is themed dinners, which the Ratty hosts several times a year.  All of the stations offer food fitting the theme of the night, and the tables even get tablecloths!  The most recent theme was all about food made from local ingredients.  All of the food served came from local businesses and farms.

As it did in the 1950’s, the Sharpe Refectory continues to serve as the central meeting place on campus.  It’s location to many of the dorms makes it a convenient place to meet your friends for a meal.  The quality and variety of food offered at the Ratty make it one of the best places to eat at Brown.

Curious about the food on campus or the difference between meal credits and points?  Feel free to email me at  



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