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Posts Tagged ‘by the McGill metro’

There might be a quicker way to get to the food court underneath the Tour Scotia, but I usually enter through the revolving doors of the Scotia Bank skyscraper, walk straight through the open lobby of the bank, and take the small escalator down to the underground area.

There’s Asian stir fry-to-order, Arabic chicken shawarma (often called shish taouk in Montreal), burgers, and a Subway counter just around the corner. The food court gets very quiet during the summer, some shops even close down, but can be busy with long lines. Akli does shawarma and generous stew plates, and has coffee carafes filled with hot mint tea by the register. My juicy chicken shawarma included a lot of lettuce, hummus, and tomato and was wrapped in paper then heated in a panini press, which made it warm throughout but kept the pita soft. I don’t usually tip at counters, but there was a young kid helping out, so I dropped in a loonie. This is the sort of lunch food court that is convenient because of location and it’s right across the street from McGill.

Metro: McGill

Tour Scotia, 1000 Rue Sherbrooke Ouest and Rue Mansfield

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Floating solidly in the middle of McGill’s downtown campus, the Redpath Museum is everything one would expect from a classic Victorian museum. The grey stone exterior leads into a traditional Victorian museum interior. Inside, on hardwood floors, its exhibits are encased in uniform antique stained wood and glass cases. There’s a Grecian urn, a letter from Charles Darwin, and a prominently displayed skeleton of Dromaeosaurus albertensis, which while a relative of the better known Velociraptor, can almost be imagined as a Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton. Don’t all Victorian museums need a T-rex skeleton? It would be easy to envision a Victorian nanny browsing through the cases pushing a perambulator and ushering around charges wearing coordinated traveling clothes. A whole Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton probably wouldn’t have fit in the small museum, anyway (they do have a head somewhere).

The museum would probably be best appreciated by school-aged children, around the age when they become obsessed with dinosaurs and rock polishers. There are a number of signs emphasizing quiet behaviour and admonishing against running in the halls leaving children unattended, so it seems to be a popular destination for school-aged children. It is small and I was able to get through all three floors during my lunch hour. The exhibits are mostly minerals, sea shells, taxidermy, and bones. The ground level entrance hall is air conditioned, but the second and third levels had only strategically placed desk fans on a very warm spring day and was noticeably warmer and smellier thanks in part to the numerous taxidermy exhibits. It’s also a working research facility, and museum patrons walk by numerous offices in between the various exhibits.

Admission is free and the museum is open to the public.

Metro: McGill

859 Rue Sherbrooke Ouest and Rue McTavish (McGill University downtown campus)

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For graduate students, those faculty and staff who pay for the privilege, and undergraduates who sneak in pretending to be grad students, this is one of the best places to eat and socialize on campus. In fact, it’s like a junior faculty club, where the academics-in-training can eat and socialize together as colleagues. This isn’t a coffee house, nor is it a cafeteria. The food, a rotating selection of soup, sandwiches, pasta, salad, and cookies, is simple, reasonably priced, and good-tasting. A small bar area provides limited alcoholic drinks. While it lacks the imposing architecture of the Faculty Club, the historic limestone mansion has character and the food is far superior if humbler.

The dining procedure is to either find your own table and a server will find you, or find a server to take your order to go. Servers are friendly and cheerful, but I usually get my lunch to go as it can take a while.

The pleasant outdoor terrace is open for the summer, as well as the sizable and well-lit basement seating area.

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One of the hidden gems on campus is the ice cream stand run by McGill’s Engineering Undergraduate Society in, you guessed it, the engineering building (McConnell). If you’re lucky, you can even grab a freshly grilled hamburger or hot dog from a fundraising student group frequently camped out on the patio on your way in – one day, there was even spit-roasted lamb.

For what it is, it’s a great deal. About 12 yummy flavors of Nestle ice cream – now fortunately labeled in English – are generously dished out in variously sized plastic water cups. Flavors often run out and the shop closes mid-afternoon, so go early in the day to get your favorites. Prices are cheap (~$2-$4), but frequent indulgers can save even more by investing in an advance purchase card. There used to be a deal for students with failing midterm or final grades of 30% or less to get a small freebie, but I didn’t check if that’s still offered. On Toonie Tuesday, medium cups are $2. And yes, they’re open during the summer!

Metro: McGill

McConnell Engineering Building, Ground Floor
McGill University
3480 University Street

See my April 2010 review here: https://rachelrecommends.wordpress.com/2010/04/10/frostbite-mcgill-university/

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In honour of Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee, it seemed prudent to check out afternoon tea in Montreal, and up to bat first is this café, which is yet another piece of the Europea group, housed in Tiffany’s-like Birks.

Afternoon tea is available only after 2:30pm (and closer to 2:45pm, they said when I made my reservation) and the café closes at 5pm. Personally, I would enjoy afternoon tea for lunch or dinner, since it’s clearly a meal, but I suppose that’s the traditional time during which it is served. We were given menus and a tea timer with three different coloured sands, depending on the darkness of tea. We both chose Himalayan Darjeeling, a lightly colored black tea that arrived in an Asian-style cast iron pot. Then a long tray of food was set between us, with two of each. There was a plate of warmish scones with creamy Devonshire cream and too-little strawberry jam. Then three canapes made with cured salmon, foie gras and cranberries, and cucumber and cream cheese. I swapped half of my mini savory club sandwich with my husband for his foie gras canape. Then macaroons, chocolates, and a maple mousse and a chocolate mousse.

When everything first came out, it didn’t seem like it would be enough for a full meal, but by the time we got to the mousse, my husband was full and I got to eat both of the shot glasses myself. I left feeling quite full and satisfied. Service was excellent and the setting was similar to a nice museum café, with interesting things to look at in display cases on the edges of the eating area. While the tea presentation paid sufficient homage to expected English tradition, the service was modern and contemporary. I did not feel out of place or expected to act in a certain way. There was some language-related confusion when the credit card reader failed to prompt me for a tip and I wanted to leave the tip in cash, but the café thought that I wanted to pay for whole bill in cash. They refunded the charge on my card – I thought they had tried to charge the card again in order to add the tip, and they thought they were refunding the charge because I was going to pay for the whole bill in cash. A few minutes later, I got a call while I was browsing in the nearby Bay department store, and got a small bag of sweets for my trouble when I returned to clear it up. Now that I think of it, we both should have received a bag of sweet anyway, along with our tea, but oh well. It seemed worth $26.50/person plus taxes and tip.

Metro: McGill

Mezzanine level at the Montreal Birks Store, 1240 Square Phillips, Saint-Catherine Ouest and Place Phillips

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One downside of working for a university is that the staff/student calendars don’t always coalesce. This Monday, I went to the Law Café, Thomson House, SSMU (student center), and McGill Bookstore (thinking there was a café there, and finding myself mistaken), making my way down McTavish Street until I finally entered the Bronfman building’s tepid and inappropriately named canteen. Boasting only pathetic and unsatisfying pre-made sushi made with a disturbing amount of mayonnaise and a noodle station…maybe a few cookies and salads, too…this is my last choice at which to eat on campus, even after the Faculty Club and Subway. Perhaps the only thing going for this place are the two TVs tuned into the news.

metro: McGill

1001 Rue Sherbrooke Ouest and Rue McTavish

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One of the hidden gems on campus is the ice cream stand run by McGill’s Engineering Undergraduate Society in, you guessed it, the engineering building. If you’re lucky, you can even grab a freshly grilled hamburger or hot dog from a fundraising student group frequently camped out on the patio on your way in – one day, there was even spit-roasted lamb.

For what it is, it’s a great deal. About 12 yummy flavors of Nestle ice cream – all mysteriously labeled in French, belying the primarily anglophone nature of the university – are generously dished out in variously sized plastic water cups. Flavors often run out and the shop closes mid-afternoon, so go early in the day to get your favorites. Despite a recent $.25 price hike, prices are cheap (~$1-$3), but frequent indulgers can save even more by investing in an advance purchase card. Students with failing midterm or final grades of 30% or less get a small freebie. On Toonie Tuesday, medium cups are $2.

Metro: McGill

McConnell Engineering Building, Ground Floor
McGill University
3480 University Street

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