Eats, chews and leaves: Relive the worst of high school at McRae’s Bistro


Metaphors — aren’t they dandy? One thing is used to represent another. Need an example? Perhaps a group of friends from high school meet up for dinner at McRae’s Bistro. Customers at all the other tables appear to be having the time of their lives as we try to hide our frustration. Those McRae’s customers thus represented the popular crowd, and my friends and I were, well, anything but (try band geeks, drama kids, or general nerds). Needless to say, we won’t be returning to the restaurant, or our Grade 12 year, ever again.

While I usually fly by the seat of my pants, I made reservations for our group of eight. It may not be kind to say we were pleased when one of our members didn’t show, but we were. The McRae’s staff must have either assumed I didn’t actually have eight friends or that we eight adults were all size zero, as they crammed our group into a booth made for six.

I found the menu uninventive and relatively boring. A small confession: I eat a sandwich every day, so I rarely order them out. The vast majority of items at McRae’s are wraps, burgers or sandwiches. I settled for the salad rolls ($8) and McRae’s salad ($9). Everyone else went for sandwich variations, including the grilled/roasted vegetable panini ($8.50), turkey club wrap ($8), roasted burrito ($11) and cheddar burger ($8). If the prices seem low, they are. Sides aren’t included in the price and can be tacked on for an additional fee, one for $3 or two for $5. Friends sprang for fries, Caesar salad and potato wedges.

The spring rolls were sparse on filling, a disappointment since I ordered them specifically for the shrimp, egg, cilantro, cucumber and carrot combination. The ginger-peanut dipping sauce salvaged an otherwise bland offering. The salad, advertised as a “mixed green” base, was merely iceberg/romaine. A shout-out goes to the candied pecans: the star topping amongst cranberries, sunflower seeds and apple. I’d advise against ordering either appetizer.

The wrap and panini garnered mild acclaim. I tried both and had mixed views. The wrap contained too much mayo and not enough turkey or bacon. The panini fared slightly better, but isn’t anything with both goat cheese and hummus a winner?

The four guys at our table powered through their food so quickly I didn’t taste their burritos and burgers, although they mentioned the burrito packed a spicy kick they weren’t expecting.

I assume their hurried eating had something to do with the hour-long wait for food. Don’t worry; we filled the time talking about the lip dub video our grad class made (for you youngsters, it’s the Harlem shake of 2010).

The service worsened throughout the night, starting with a pushy insistence we order drinks and our server’s presence drastically dropping off once we ordered. When the time came to pay, our server made a point of reminding everyone her tip hadn’t been included in the bill. Her comment rubbed me the wrong way and only called more attention to her poor tableside manner.

UVic students, please don’t visit McRae’s. If you’re after a high school experience, you can find my high school’s lip dub by searching “Sardis Secondary lipdub 2010” on YouTube.