I've been eking out lunches on university campuses since 1994. And it looks like I'll be eking them out for some time yet. Of my campuses--McGill, Penn, and UVic--Penn wins the lunch competition hands-down. Some of the lunch trucks around the campus were just genius. My favourite lunch at Penn--as others headed to the much lauded burrito guy on Walnut--was a meatball sub prepared by a somewhat surly eastern European woman at the corner of Chestnut and 34th. The onions, "American" cheese, and yellow mustard (yes yellow mustard) went on first, so that as the cheese melted they'd form a molten core. And then the dense, foamy meatballs, no extra sauce. Finally, a couple of shakes of something that was very far from real parmesan cheese. Brilliant!
Unfortunately UVic has nothing comprable to offer. It's dreary dining up there comrades, I know. But in this feature I will offer a guide to surviving the culinary morass of the UVic campus.
To start, and I say this at great risk to my own pleasure, go to the Finnerty Express in the basement of the UVic bookstore and get a pain au chocolate. Not the absurd chocolate croissant with gigantism and the artless zig-zags on top. Rather, the small, understated one, with chocolate tastefully tucked away inside. It is a startlingly good pastry, totally unlike the other clunkers in the cafe. It is light, and buttery, and chocolaty, and just plain delicious. It's a great pick-me-up on a grey and hungry day up on campus.
The cafe doesn't make them, of course. They come from Bond Bonds Bakery. But so does most of the other stuff and, well, stick with the pain au. Trust me.
More guidance will come. Fear not.