Dinner @ the Grand Olympia (Hamilton, Ontario)

A green salad in a 'collar' of long strips of cucumber, dressed with balsamic vinaigrette and some crispy egg noodles.I recently went to a wedding reception at the Grand Olympia in Hamilton, Ontario. Many weddings I’ve gone to, I’ve remarked on the ceremony, the bride’s dress, the lovely decorations, the weather and so on. It’s rare that I bother commenting on the food. Even my own wedding, I barely remember what the food tasted like. I couldn’t even recall the caterer at this point. I’m sure that it was good, but I barely tasted any of it. In truth, I was just so wound up that I couldn’t eat. Other weddings I’ve been to, the food has been rather unremarkable. Not bad, but nothing to write home to Mom about.

Now, with that said, I’ve been to some weddings that were potluck and those were pretty awesome.

But I have to tell you, the food at the Grand Olympia was rather incredible, and so, you get a blog post about it. First, the sheer amount of food and drinks served was insane. Waiters in black attire with white gloves wove in between the tables with trays laden full of grasshoppers, chocolate martinis and three different kinds of champagne. Then they brought around bottles of wine to pour for dinner. Then the food started to come out.

First was the bread basket and salads. This was a “cucumber collar green salad” (pictured). This was just a green salad with long slices of cucumber wrapped around it like a wall to keep it neat and tidy on the plate, drizzled with some balsamic vinaigrette dressing and sprinkled with some crunchy fried egg noodle-y things (the things they give you when you order chow mein or chop suey). It was very fresh, crisp and tasty! What a great way to whet your appetite.

A large piece of lasagna, cut in a traditional pie "wedge" instead of a square, sprinkled with parmesan cheese.Next on the table was lasagna (pictured), but not just any lasagna — the piece was large enough to have its own gravitational pull!  And yet, it was so incredibly tasty that it disappeared rather swiftly.

There may have been ricotta cheese in it — I’m really not a fan — but it was so incredibly good, that I really didn’t care either way. I really appreciated that it was served in a traditional pie-wedge shape, rather than a square piece, which seems to be  more typical of lasagna.

Freshly-cracked black pepper was offered by the wait-staff, out of gigantic pepper mills. I can only assume that this is to prevent the waitstaff from having to lean too far over a person’s shoulder or squeeze in between two people at a table. Very clever, and a wonderful spectacle! 😉

A plate with garlic mashed  potatoes, roasted vegetables and a tender piece of veal, covered in a tasty gravy.The dinner could have ended there, but no, there was a third course (or second entree), which was no less impressive than the first two: an incredibly tender piece of veal resting on top of garlic mashed potatoes, served with roasted vegetables and smothered in an incredibly tasty, savory gravy.

I had never eaten veal before.

I can’t believe it’s taken me this long.

It was incredible. Honestly, as much as I loved the lasagna, I would have opted to forgo the pasta dish to have a second helping of the veal plate. It was absolutely delicious. The meat melted in your mouth, quite literally. The potatoes were creamy and luscious. The vegetables weren’t overcooked and still captured their own individual taste profiles, yet complimented the rest of the dish.

I could go on and on about it, but I must move on…

…for there was another dish. Yes, a fourth course! By this point, we were all pretty full. This was a lot of food. But who could pass up one of my favourites? Chicken parmesan was up next, with a side that I am not overly familiar with: risotto. I’m sorry, I don’t have a picture of this because instead of coming on pre-plated dishes like the others, they spooned it out table-side and I couldn’t handle more than a little tiny bit of each. It wouldn’t have made for a decent picture, in truth.

But that doesn’t mean it was any less tasty than the rest of the dinner! It was equally delicious. The chicken was moist and tender. The breading wasn’t overpowering and it wasn’t greasy in the slightest. The risotto was a milder flavour to complement the bolder taste of the chicken, but very creamy and delicious in its own right.

And the final dish was a champagn berry sorbet, covered in berries, which I could only manage to swallow a few mouthfuls before my stomach threatened to burst on me. It was so tasty, but there was just no room left in the inn.

All told, if anyone asked me if having their wedding reception there would be a good idea, based on the food alone (never mind the impeccable service!), I would respond with a resounding, “YES!” My only complaint is that they advertise wheelchair access for their facilities, but what this really means is that there is a lift that climbs up the stairs with the assistance of a staff member. Personally, I don’t like those things (and I have a cane, not a chair). I don’t like being at the mercy of other people, so I’d have preferred some kind of ramp or actual elevator, or even the ability to use the lift on my own. Other than that (as this is a FOOD blog), no complaints! Way to go, Grand Olympia!

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