Saturday, November 19, 2011


Address: 1652 McRae Avenue
Phone: (250) 590-6944
Price: ~$10 for a main
Notes: More like a pub than a bistro. Cheap prices but solid food.

When McRaes first opened I was quite baffled by it. They took over the house-turned corner store-turned garden centre at the corner of McRae and Shelbourne, near Hillside Mall. Not exactly the most obvious restaurant location ever. Then there was a the actual mandate - initial branding and set up appeared to be a diner of sorts, but then the signage went up and it called itself a bistro which for me evokes memories of my teenaged visit to Paris and little shops packed to the brim with rich but simple foods - not a sprawling restaurant in suburbia! Then it opened and it felt more like I had be transported to a ski-hill pub masquerading as a hunting lodge. This is the vibe I get now - rough cuts of wood and stone line the walls, and there are antlers over the fire place.

In a way they have hit the mark perfectly. They are smack dab in the middle of prime student rental housing for both the college and university. They are also closer to the parts of of Oak Bay and Saanich populated by retirees who in some ways similar requirements to students - nothing too fussy or expensive and close to their house. By calling it a "westcoast" bistro instead of a pub, they are appealing to a broader audience and probably neatly avoiding some draconian liquor laws.

November 14, 2011
The service today was much better than my first visit a year ago when they had first opened (as I recall, it was pretty unenthusiastic). Although there was one staff person who was very subtly not loving her job that particular day (not that we haven't all had one of those days!) she only sat us. Our server was very friendly and helpful, and our water was well topped up frequently by the bartender (who I am pretty sure is one of the owners).

November 14, 2011

I quite liked the burrito as a main being served with chips and salsa - which is one of their many choices for a side. I would have liked a slightly larger container of salsa for that amount of chip, but salsa isn't cheap so I am guessing it's a cost-saving measure. I opted for the chicken, and I think it was a good choice. The flavour of the sauce inside was nice and savoury, and the spices worked well together. 

Turkey Club Wrap via

This was my partner-in-food-and-life's choice. Although I am not a huge sliced meat fan, the bite I had of the wrap was quite good. The soup on the side was the definite highlight - very well seasoned and a great warm up on a cold day.