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Posts Tagged ‘McGill University’

I’m upgrading my rating for the Law Café, Avvocato (get it? Anglophones, look up the French word for “lawyer” and you’ll get it), which is my new favourite eaterie on campus.

I’ve been increasingly getting lunch from the takeout law school café at McGill, located in the basement bowels of Chancellor Day Hall. Of course, there are several kinds of coffee – both Starbucks and free trade – and other beverages in the cooler, including plain, strawberry, and chocolate milk. It has a minimal selection of snacks, pastries, self-serve salads, prepackaged sushi, flatbread pizza, prepared sandwiches, and soups. I’ve come to notice the to-order pasta station with a selection of meat or tomato sauce and plain pasta or ravioli or tortellini for a reasonable price (a little over $4) and a slightly more expensive (~$8-$9) hot daily special. Some recent selections included braised sausage with onions, tender herb potato quarters, and corn; moist and tender roast beef, mashed potatoes, and tasty and crisp two-coloured green beans. I was well-pleased with both, in both portion and quality. During the summer and on Fridays in September, there was an outdoor barbecue grill with juicy hamburgers and hot dogs and a selection of condiments. I like that the head honcho of Avvocato is so enthusiastic and likes to try new things. The food offerings are good for on-campus fare, and I’m not eating it just because I have no where else to go. I actually like the food.

The only major drawback of this establishment, and why it does not receive a perfect A, is the routine bottle-necking by the cash register, which can mean a wait of several minutes even when there’s only one other person in line. The staff are friendly and like to chat, leaving one often standing with an increasingly hot and moist takeout container in their hands.

Not being even remotely affiliated with the law school, I’m not comfortable eating in the spacious dining area – besides, lawyers and future lawyers give me the willies. As with many on-campus dining options, the café mostly closes when the undergraduates leave. There’s a snack vending machine in the hallway, but not enough for lunch.

Metro: Peel

3644 Rue Peel and Avenue Docteur-Penfield

See my April review here.

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Perhaps it would be fairer if judgment were withheld until classes start again, but I don’t see myself going back to this tiny canteen. On-campus cafés tend to close or substantially downsize during the summer when students go home and faculty go travelling. It’s possible that the latter happened to this mini cafeteria. At least, one would hope that that was the case. When I stopped by at the start of July, all there was to eat were two watery self-serve soup kettles, some prepared sandwiches and individual cups of apple butter (to spread on what, one might ask?) and what looked to be a to-order sandwich counter. There may also have been coffee. Considering the size of the building, and that it is filled with doctors and medical students, the meagre offerings were very surprising.

Metro: Peel

3655 Promenade Sir William Osler and Rue Peel

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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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On occasion, I get lunch from the no-frills takeout law school café at McGill, located in the basement bowels of Chancellor Day Hall. It has a minimal selection of snacks, salads, two soups, and juicy roast chicken quarters. There might be sandwiches there, too, not to mention several kinds of coffee and other beverages in the cooler. Food quality is what you’d expect from on-campus dining; I usually get the chicken quarters and maybe a soup. Bottle-necking can occur at the cash register during peak times, but the staff are friendly for the most part. Not being even remotely affiliated with the law school, I’m not comfortable eating in the plentiful dining area – besides, lawyers and future lawyers give me the willies. As with many on-campus dining options, the café closes when the undergraduates leave.

Metro: Peel

3644 Rue Peel and Avenue Docteur-Penfield

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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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