I always thought that there was one immutable law:  Museum cafes are expensive.  The food might be good at some of them, and others might look slick, but they were always pricey.  Well, I’m glad to say that I am wrong about the UBC Museum of Anthropology (MoA) Cafe.  It’s very good value and pretty good eatin’.

I went to the MoA today in order to rest my body and exercise my mind after a long, 40km-day hike from Lynn Headwaters Regional Park, up Grouse Mountain, along to Goat Mountain, and then back again.  Anima sana in corpore sano, and all that.  We showed up at around 1pm, and as we waited for the 2pm tour to start, we realized we were a little peckish.  When it was suggested that we go to the MoA cafe, I could already visualize my bank balance dwindling.

The friendly panini and soup, accompanied by a coffee.

The cafe itself, if I’m being completely frank, isn’t much to look at, especially since its housed in a quite lovely Arthur Charles Erickson-building.  The tables were slightly wobbly and though there was a view of the back of the museum, the indoor dining area felt slightly closed-in.  Then, there were the 10, massive grey buckets inexplicably lined up along one of the walls.  Hmmm…  This was certainly not the Tate Modern cafe.  But then again, I did not have to bequeath my first born child for an espresso and a biscotti.

In fact, I was amazed that the daily special – a salmon chowder and a panini – cost only a little over $8…and that both menu items were quite good.

The panini was generously large and filled with prosciutto, cheese, mushrooms, and sun-dried tomatoes.  The plentiful soup was decent as well, and though it was under seasoned, was big on vegetable goodness (including carrots, corn, onions, and chunks of salmon).

I also note that all of these goodies were served quickly by the prompt and kind cafe staff, and the coffee we ordered to enjoy with our lunch was also tasty.

Though the MoA cafe is rough around the edges, I would certainly recommend you give it a shot if you’re in the the museum and in the market for a quick bite to eat.  There are, it would seem, exceptions to the “law” that museum cafes are pricey* and I for one am glad for it.

*I note that, another exception to my fictional “law” (which I shamelessly created to serve as a not terrible first line) is London, England’s National Gallery Cafe.  It has a lovely restaurant and a very reasonably priced Afternoon Tea that will make you wish clotted cream came out of your kitchen tap.

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