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Feb 13, 2010 04:53 PM

Olympic International/National Houses - comments/reviews appreciated

Just wondering if anyone has checked out any of the houses and would appreciated hearing which were worthwhile and why or why not.

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  1. Second hand from SIL, Casa Italia is like a business convention and not very welcoming (she went late last week). Richmond Night Market-like food fair under tents at Plaza of Nations looked promising last night on a quick walk through with lots of options including a couple of takoyaki stands. Hilarious plastic bag HVAC system is worth the price of admission alone which is free :-).

    1. I stopped in to Casa Italia on Thursday and I have to say they could have done a lot more with it - what a snooze! Anyway, there's a parm. reg. sampling station and, apparently, between, 12 and 1 each day, they do proscuitto and wine tastings (Naturally, I turned up at 1:15). Given that the house is only open 11 to 6 daily, it's a bit of a shame that they only do the best tastings for....FIVE MINUTES !!!! (clearly, it's run by the same people that run the Italian Consulate). Bottom line... if there's a queue, pass.

      8 Replies
      1. re: hrhsheba

        Really haven't heard anything very positive about most of the houses so far. Either boring and no food or nothing special in the way of food or way too long of a wait. Too bad that food is not more of a deal with these places.
        I had high hopes for the Korean pavilion on the second floor of the Hyatt but it's all tech stuff.

        1. re: eatrustic

          We were at Granville Island yesterday where there are three pavilions: Atlantic, Francophone and Swiss. The lineups at all three were so ridiculous we didn't bother, although we did go around to the back of the Francophone one and look in -- it looked like a trade show. Other friends watched some music there that they enjoyed. I have yet to talk to anyone who has actually ingested anything at any of the pavilions.

          1. re: grayelf

            It looks like all the sausages served at the Saxon House (the main part of the menu) are from Freybe. If only they had tried a bit harder and gone with John from Oyama.

            At the end of the day I guess we have to accept that if we go to a lot of these "houses" it's to party, with the food as something to backstop pricey beer.

            1. re: grayelf

              I was at Granville Island yesterday too! Skipped the Swiss house for raclette and went to the Lobster Man who had a little set up outside their shop selling lobster rolls, a bisque, bbq'd scallops, oysters and whole lobsters w/ butter. Shared a lobster roll with a friend ($7.00) which was tasty, lots of meat and not too many "fillers". I would have liked to try the bisque but I was still too full from a slightly disappointing ReFuel burger (but thats another story)! No lineups when we went around 3 but I'm not sure if thats just set up for the weekends.

              1. re: alwaysroom4dessert

                Thanks for the heads up: had a lobster roll from Lobster Man today and really enjoyed it. Wish I'd had room for some bbq oysters.
                BTW for those avoiding GI due to crowds, there was plenty of parking (monday at noon), only short line-ups at food-related pavilions, and the market was busy but totally doable. There were lines at the theatre venues and lots of folks wandering around enjoying the sun.

              2. re: grayelf

                I agree that the Francophone Pavillion is like a trade show. However, there is one vendor there who is giving out tastings of Niege, an apple ice wine that is absolutely delicious.

                1. re: gourmet wife

                  That ice wine sounds lovely. You didn't happen to get any details (like whether its available here), did you? Too lazy to google :-).

                  1. re: grayelf

                    They now have a limited amount at BC Liquor store. They must of shipped some in after people started enquiring about it.


          2. I took my youngest to Heineken House for lunch on friday. Really we went to check out the team gear as I felt a need to express Dutch heritage when watching speedskating. Speaking Dutch got us past the line-up and we bought some fun things at the Heineken store. Unfortunately the Dutch official fan apparel store was very expensive not nearly as cool as the athletes' uniforms which were sadly not for sale.
            Then we went and had a broodje kroket, which defies description but is the Dutch national version of mystery meat on a bun. 5-year old was horrified, and I must say nostalgia clearly has its limits as it wasn't as good as I remember either. The fries with mayo looked good though. There were other specialties including sausages and various mashed potato dishes but as those are more dinner fare we didn't try them. If the day had been colder I would have had pea soup in honour of the skating (you buy from vendors on the ice when skating on canals). I'm not sure any of this would be worth the trip, but might be amusing accompaniments to the general experience. Lots of very jolly keen folks wearing orange and drinking Heineken and reveling in the experience and you realize many people traveled a long long way for it.
            I think there were other activities, but we didn't have time to see them.

            1. The Swiss House. Oh. My. God. We were at the one in Whistler, so I can only assume the one in Van is also as good. Would love to know who the chef is. We had walked by and they were interviewing the chef for tv so we thought we should check it out. Went in late one night for a drink---amazing Hemingway Daquiri, ended up sitting with another american who ordered the phenomenal looking burger and fries. he said it was one of the best burgers he's ever had. We shared a choc. fondue w/him, also good. We went back for lunch the next day, everything was fabulous. Aside from the burger being done well (illegal to do any less in canada, most ridiculous law ever). Friend said it was the best well burger that's ever happened to the world.

              I had fish and chips: halibut cheeks stuffed with spot prawns. This stuff was great. I will be back for more.

              4 Replies
              1. re: dagoose

                you're mistaken, there are a few places here where you can get a medium rare burg

                1. re: vandan

                  Oh good! A friend of us told us this who lives in Van. so I took it as face value (since every burger we'd been served had been well). Where?

                  1. re: dagoose

                    Hamilton Street Grill
                    db Bistro Moderne
                    and a few others

                    Fuel Restaurant
                    1944 West 4th Ave, Vancouver, BC V6J 1M5, CA

                    Hamilton Street Grill
                    1009 Hamilton Street, Vancouver, BC V6B 2R9, CA

                    db Bistro Moderne
                    2551 West Broadway, Vancouver, BC V6K 2E9, CA

                    1. re: fmed

                      Vera's Burgers on Denman will also do pink for you.

              2. I checked out the Saskatchewan pavilion...$8 for a bison burger or a lentil burger - as a vegetarian, I take a stand and refuse to pay the same as eat-meaters. $6 for 6 perogies, probably frozen and machine made - pass. $5 for two saskatoon berry tarts - I had to go for this, I am a sucker for saskatoons - sadly, they were more like tartlets. They were tasty though. $8 for a plastic cup of corporate 'beer' - pass. Overall rating - meh.

                9 Replies
                1. re: cdnprairiedog

                  Foodwise, Atlantic Canada was best. Free raw oyster and at 11, 1 and 5, sample of 4 things.

                  One was cod's cheek, another tempuraed halibut. Forget other two. Line was horrendous there.

                  1. re: repartee

                    checked out saxony house today, was poised to turn around and not bother because of expecteed huge line- up , especially considering the beautiful blue skies, was shocked to see no line whatsoever , had a few beers and sausages(pretty tasty actually) , all in all a very nice time, and i really did luck out but as i was leaving there was a good line starting to form

                    1. re: vandan

                      btw, i heard about food stalls @ plaza of nations, i believe on here, anyone been?

                      1. re: vandan

                        went today, kinda reminded me of the night market, defo worth a look

                        1. re: vandan

                          Sounds good. Do you know the hours? What was the line-up situation?

                          1. re: waver

                            no idea about the hours and thankfully there was no line-up, a very nice surprise, even though i did grab some eats from lobsterman on GI a little earlier, i saw a stall with tempura prawns and could not resist, i was very glad i gave into temptation

                        2. re: vandan

                          I think that was me, vandan :-). We didn't get a chance to eat but it is definitely worth a look with lots of options all in one place and reasonable looking prices too. We went by around 7:30 pm and there were no lineups and virtually no people on Saturday Feb 13. There was even a White Spot in there believe it or not but I'd be checking out the predominately "ethnic" offerings myself.

                          1. re: grayelf

                            ha i thought it was possibly you greyelf, ya the whitespot was a bit of a headscratcher, i was one of those, 'one of these things doesn' belong' moments

                            1. re: vandan

                              btw i totally recommend the tempura prawns as the sauce they serve with it was absolutely delish , i asked the vendor and she said it was black bean sauce , hoisin and a bit of tabasco