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It’s Business, Not Quite as Usual, at Vancouver Restaurants

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By Judith Lane

Vancouver Restaurants Are Ready for the Games!

They’ve extended their hours, stocked up with extra supplies, and added graveyard shifts since those in the downtown core and near Olympic venues have to receive deliveries in the dead of night due to road closures and restrictions, and security issues.


Plenty of Yaletown restos have patio heaters blasting out warm welcomes, and they’ve put chill-chasing blankets on every chair to accommodate the hungry thirsty crowds flooding the area from event venues and nearby entertainment sites.


Meanwhile many echo Alibi’s Nigel Springthorpe’s comment about what to expect. The Gastown restaurateur said, “We’re all entertaining the unknown. All we know is that we just don’t know.”


Many are putting on the dog for visitors and locals alike. Things we’ll be taking in? More than a few of these tasty offerings:


Ordering a burger and beer at Refuel (1944 West 4th Avenue) has a twist. Local microbrewery, R&B Brewing has created a European-styled Pilsner, Iceholes Celebration Lager, in response to Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert’s recent “Don’t be an Ice-Hole” campaign against Canada started when it was perceived that American speed skaters weren’t getting enough practice time on the ice at the speed skating venue, the (sexy and sustainable) Richmond Olympic Oval.


Barry Benson, co-owner of R&B Brewing Co. says, "We are proud syrup-sucking Canadian iceholes. In celebration of our icehole-ish behaviour we have decided to get even rather than get mad. Canadians can wreak their revenge against Stephen Colbert in a truly Canadian way and have a beer." Colbert of the Colbert Report has been named Olympic Oval “official ombudsman”. “I have no idea what an ombudsman is, but as long as it requires no effort from me, I proudly accept," said Colbert. We hope he enjoys the brew as much as we do. It’s available at other proudly Canadian Ice-Hole restaurants and bars around town too.


Yew Restaurant + Bar in the Four Seasons has come out with a monolithic Olympic Burger built around a one-pound Kobe and Alberta beef patty which pairs nicely with the Calgary Olympics-inspired Silver cocktail—an ultra premium Caesar in a glass cowboy boot. There’s a swath of other Games inspired cocktails to explore too, and a three-course $45 Maple Leaf Menu centered around star ingredients from Canada’s Olympic cities—Montreal, Calgary and Vancouver, and includes a foie gras torchon, braised bison cannelloni, and Qualicum Bay scallops.


Vancouver’s only modern Chinese restaurant, Wild Rice, is offering both a three-course prix fixe Olympic Dinner Menu ($30) and a four-course prix fixe Year of the Tiger Chinese New Year menu ($40), both to February 28.


At MARKET in the Shangri-La Vancouver (1128 West Georgia) Jean-Georges Vongerichten is in the house from February 15 to 17 and is setting up a Street MARKET on the tented third floor patio. In the bars, featured cocktails include Oh Canada! with maple syrup and Canadian Maple Whiskey, After the Celebration Caesar, and the all-Canadian spirits Gold on Ice complete with gold flakes.


Opus Bar in Yaletown’s Opus Hotel (322 Davie Street) has designed a series of Olympic O-bites, global plates like Carving Karage (chicken karage), Buffalo Bobsleigh (miso marinated buffalo sate) and Sockeye Slalom (salmon tempura roll).


The seriously determined will crowd Tojo’s (1133 West Broadway) for a taste of his Celebration 2018 Roll kitted out in Olympic colours and made with B.C. Dungeness crab, red snapper, sockeye salmon, asparagus, pineapple, egg crepe, big-eye tuna and spinach. Hint: go early when the restaurant opens at 4 p.m. and slide into a seat at the bar and watch the action. The restaurant is almost completely booked up with sponsors, stars, and athletes, many of whom are regular patrons.


The lobby of the Pan Pacific Hotel has been transformed into an Aboriginal village called Kla-how-ya (“welcome”). Experience native-inspired dishes at adjacent Café Pacifica where flavourful teriyaki muskox rolls, Arctic char rolls, Dungeness crab rolls with 24 carat gold, bannock, alderwood smoked salmon sticks, and special Olympic-themed desserts and cocktails. The lunch fresh sheet does a Canadian turn with Montreal smoked meat sandwich, a Fraser Valley pot pie, and other uniquely local fare.


From the beginning of the Games on February 12 until the last medal has been handed out at the Paralympics (March 21), Campagnolo (1020 Main Street) will comp pizzas for everyone eating a medal-inspired pizza special—the Bronze margarita pizza paired with R&B Lager; Silver Salciccia pizza with R&B Raven Cream Ale; and Gold funghi pizza and Menabrea Italian Lager—if a Canadian athlete wins a medal at that particular time that matches the namesake pizza.


Granville Mall’s rockin’ Irish spot, Ceili’s Irish Pub and Restaurant (670 Smithe Street at Granville), is geared to take the party to the next level from breakfast to late night complete. There’s live entertainment, DJs, masses of huge screen TVs, copious beer sampling, and giveaways.


Enjoy 14 days of aboriginal feasting courtesy of Cuisine Kanata and the BC Aboriginal Culinary Team at the Native Education College’s Longhouse (285 East 5th Avenue). Beginning with a taditional Lil’wat Nation welcome song, a seven-course feast follows. On the menu? “Hot rock” poached local spot prawns, fire-roasted corn soup with oolichan oil, salmon two ways, braised bison shortribs, and cranberry bannock bread pudding with “Indian ice cream”. Wines are from BC’s Osoyoos Indian Band’s award-winning Nk’Mip Cellars. Cost is $245 per person and partial proceeds benefit the Aboriginal Culinary Team’s journery to the 2012 International Culinary Olympics in Germany. Book by calling 604-831-1215.


Showing true Olympic spirit, GeorgeUltra Lounge (1137 Hamilton Street) is set to host the 2018 Mixlympic Games at noon on February 21. Six international bartenders will go shaker to shaker with four of Canada’s best in a black box cocktail challenge. The Canadians? Vancouver’s Mark Brand, owner of Boneta and The Diamond; David Wolwidnyk, bar manager at West; Jay Jones, owner of The Pourhouse: and Darryl Macdonald, bartender at Toronto’s Port. The prize? Quite simply the first ever title of Winner of the George Mixlympic Games. There’s no admission charge and it’s open to everyone. Can’t make it? No worries. The visiting bartenders are here for the duration of the Olympics and are working behind the wood at George.


Salt Tasting Room in Gastown’s Blood Alley has returning staff doing guest turns to help with the onslaught, and beefed up its already sizable selection of B.C. wines, and opened Salt Cellar to accommodate the hordes.


Enjoy the Games!

Looking for more Vancouver Hotel & Dining Finds?  Check Out our Destination Guide to Vancouver

Image Courtesy: © VANOC/COVAN


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