Restaurant: Cactus Club Cafe
Cuisine: International/American/West Coast/Pacific Northwest
Last visited: August 27, 2011
Location: Delta, BC (Surrey Newton)
Address: 7907 120th Street
Price Range: $20-30 (Mains $20-25)
1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!
Food: 4-4.5 (for a chain)
- Canadian chain restaurant
- Very popular to locals
- Started in Vancouver, BC
- Bar/TV area
- Celebrity Chef Rob Feenie menu items
- Friendly service
- Lively atmosphere
- Casual fine dining
- Moderately priced
- Patio seating
- Open late
**Recommendations: Butternut Squash + Prawn Ravioli or Ravioli + Prawn Trio, Rocket Salad, Potato Skins, Raincoast Greens, Rob’s Hunter Chicken, Chocolate Peanut Butter Crunch Bar
A chain restaurant? Really? What kind of food blogger blogs about a chain? Actually a lot do, and I’m one of them! I’ve blogged about White Spot, Joey’s, and many more, so why not the most popular one of all? Well one of the most popular and well recognized in Metro Vancouver at least. Cactus Club.
You hear the name and you either love it or hate it, but chances are everyone knows about it. It was the chain that was popular as a teenager, and somehow it never lost its cool factor. That is if you deem “cool” as a restaurant with good looking staff in a modern and sexy yet relaxed atmosphere. Well that’s what Cactus Club is, and whether you’re the clientele that appreciates this or not, it doesn’t matter because it’s successful with or without you. That was a bit blunt, but it’s true.
What used to be an affordable burger joint has now turned into a casual fine dining restaurant. I guess the $14 burgers are still affordable, but it’s not what their focusing on… and I blame Rob Feenie. No, I’m kidding… sort of. The food got better, but the prices didn’t. Almost 50% of the menu items are “Rob Feenie Signatures” and they are pricey. Sure there are royalties and branding etc., but I just want it to be good and still somewhat worth it.
Cactus Club and Celebrity Chef Rob Feenie are a pretty unstoppable team and they’ve done great things for each other. It’s no surprise why a lot of restaurants model themselves after them. They found a formula that works.
As for me, I have one foot on board and the other foot off. I actually enjoy the food and menu at Cactus Club, it’s just pricey for what you’re getting. I’m pretty sure the food cost is 1/4, not even 1/3 like most restaurants aim for. But I can’t deny that it’s one of the few places where the food didn’t get worse as my tastes matured. On the other hand you can get something similar at better prices elsewhere, but you don’t really come here for just the food anyways.
Personally, I’d rather support a local independent restaurant, but that’s the food blogger side of me too. However if I was to choose a chain restaurant to dine at, it would either be Cactus Club or Joey’s and that’s based on food, not just on convenience. There are bad chains and there are good chains, and I find Cactus Club one of the better ones.
On this occasion I was at the Delta location and I did know some of the staff, but regardless the service is never really a problem at any of the Cactus Clubs I’ve been too. Everything I ordered was a Rob Feenie Signature, just because they really do appeal to my tastes more. The regular Cactus items just sound so ordinary especially next to the Feenie items. It was literally like “crispy dry ribs” or “beef carpaccio“… I’ll take the latter.
It’s smart though. Keep the traditional favourites that we all have grown to love, and then put them next to the pricier Rob Feenie Signatures that sound more exciting. That technique actually sells the Feenie items even more. It’s almost like a 2 in 1 restaurant and it caters to every type of diner.
On the table:
- Locally caught ocean wise seared albacore tuna, green papaya slaw, orange, avocado, pine nuts, yuzu vinaigrette $14
- “The yuzu juice in the vinaigrette is 100% pure, bottled in Japan and made from an Asian citrus fruit with a flavour combination of a mandarin orange and grapefruit.”
- They have to explain what yuzu is on the menu. As a foodie, that breaks my heart, but I hope it does encourage people to try “new” things.
- This is actually a take on a dish Chef Feenie used for “Battle Crab” against Chef Morimoto on Food Network’s Iron Chef America.
- This is good, but I’ll leave it for a Japanese restaurant. I know this is usually the case, but I still wanted to give it a chance.
- I’m not comparing it to traditional Japanese food, but many fusion style Japanese restaurants would make this too.
- It was a very fresh, zesty, fruity, bright and summery dish with sweet, savoury and tangy flavours and a subtle hint of licorice from the yuzu.
- The yuzu vinaigrette was very citrusy from maybe some added lemon or lime juice and also quite salty from perhaps some added soy sauce.
- The tuna was lightly seared albacore tuna, not ahi (yellow fin), so it was naturally more white in colour than bright pink or red. It was well seasoned with salt and pepper, but not crusted.
- There were little pieces of fresh cantaloupe, which I wish was mango, and then some tobiko which was very fishy tasting instead of salty and I wasn’t keen on the quality.
- I did like the crunch from the green papaya and carrot slaw, but I would have preferred it more delicate and finely shredded.
- There were a few tiny pieces of orange and I did like the fruit and seafood theme, but it just could have been better executed, although well presented.
- I was missing pine nuts and they skimped on the avocado and used it as garnish and I was hoping for wedges.
- I missed my wasabi mayo drizzle and crispy garlic chips, but let’s just say I’m not the market for this.
- Although different, but still a bit similar, I prefer the Ahi Tuna Tacos from Joey’s.
- Butternut squash ravioli, sauteed jumbo prawns $13
- I love this! If you’ve never tried it, you’re missing out. It will always be one of my favourites from their menu.
- It’s one of the first items Rob Feenie introduced to the Cactus Club menu and it was featured at his fine dining restaurant Lumière.
- This is the real “Rob Feenie Signature”. It’s his pride and joy.
- It’s super simple, incredibly rich and indulgent, but it’s amazing! It’s probably one of the heaviest things on the menu, but I order it often.
- It’s a standard beurre blanc sauce (emulsified butter and reduced white wine) with a touch of truffle oil at the end which gives it the perfect accent.
- The wine is a bit acidic so it does bring a tang to the buttery sauce, but it’s still creamy and very rich.
- The prawns were tender and well cooked, but the crispy sage is too minimal to really make a difference. It would be great if their flavour was infused into the sauce as well.
- The ravioli is made especially for Cactus Club by Zara’s, and they are frozen, but that doesn’t bother me.
- They were glistening with butter, cooked al dente and the skins were firm with a bite. Every location I’ve been to has cooked them right.
- The ravioli is equally as incredible as the sauce, and together they are heavenly.
- The butternut squash is actually picked at peak season so they’re very sweet, and Chef Feenie is apparently very specific about this.
- It’s a modest amount of filling, but it’s smooth and extremely creamy and the sauce just enhanced the richness of the whole ravioli.
- Since the ravioli is sweet the sauce gives it the savoury and tangy notes.
- The buttery pine nuts add texture, but they don’t give you many.
- Usually this should come with amaretti crumbs on top, but they forgot them.
- Braised pork shoulder, asian slaw, kimchi, chopped ginger and green onion, korean chili bean sauce, spicy yogurt $15
- This is one of their hottest new Rob Feenie Signature menu items. People tend to love them.
- “Lettuce Wraps” are usually the last thing I would order because often it’s an overpriced bastardization, but the hype for it got to me.
- I ordered it once at the Richmond Cactus Club Cafe and the rice was an epic fail (clumpy, dry and cold), but here it was actually fine, although room temperature.
- Nonetheless I liked them better the second time around, and the fact that I didn’t oppose to re-ordering them says something.
- I’ll try not to compare this to traditional Chinese lettuce wraps, because they’re completely different and not trying to be like them either.
- This is likely better enjoyed if you don’t know any of the ingredients well.
- This was actually very well priced, and although it’s an appetizer it could easily be an entree. It came with about 9-10 lettuce leaves.
- I warn you, this is an extremely messy lettuce wrap and it’s very saucy, drippy and wet. It’s not “order on a first date” food.
- This is a bit picky, but the lettuce is cut oddly. They’re almost cutting them lengthwise so they’re long pieces instead of round.
- This was Korean, Chinese, Thai and American put into one plate. It was kind of a delicious disaster of everything “wrong”.
- A few of the fixings are from wholesalers who actually specialize in that particular cuisine, so it’s somewhat fair to compare them to the “real deal”.
- Alone, each component isn’t great in flavour or quality, except for the braised pork shoulder, which is delicious!
- The braised pork was pretty much pulled pork and it was soppy, juicy, moist and tender and I could taste some sweet Hoisin in it. It was the sweet aspect of the dish and there was enough for at least 8 wraps.
- The kimchi is wholesale from a Korean company, but the quality isn’t that great. It actually carried a good amount of spice, but if you know kimchi this won’t cut it. In the context of the wrap, it was fine though.
- The chopped ginger and green onion sauce was likely wholesale, but again, it won’t cut it if you know the real deal. It was dry and quite bitter, not savoury or finely minced enough so the ginger skins really stood out and it was a bit spicy from it. It’s just not balanced and the real thing is so much better.
- The green papaya and carrot slaw was the same as the one used in the Tuna Tataki appetizer. It’s not that pickled and I would have preferred it finely shred, but in the context of the wrap it was okay.
- The rice was fine, but room temperature, and as mentioned, at the Richmond location it was very dry and inedible.
- The Korean chili bean sauce tasted like pure vinegar. It was also very oily, but I couldn’t taste anything but salt and vinegar. It was way too sharp and watery and I would have preferred Gochujang (Korean soy bean paste), but that’s perhaps getting too traditional.
- The spicy yogurt is the favourite Cactus Club sauce. It was the cooling sauce that cut the tang and spiciness, although it was tangy and spicy too.
- When everything was wrapped up it was pretty good, but there were a lot of flavours going on and you couldn’t taste the individual components.
- It was just very saucy, tangy, and spicy and all the flavours get really mixed up and lost.
- Each of them are so bold and strong and usually enjoyed as individual condiments.
- Just to put it into perspective, I’ll use more familiar flavours. It would be like putting chipotle mayo, spicy ketchup, hot salsa, Tobasco, and hot BBQ sauce in one thing. It’s a mumble and jumble of sauce and flavours, but at least you can customize it.
- There were so many “no he didn’t (s)” running through my head, but if I let go of my culture and what I know, I can’t deny that it still tasted good as a lettuce wrap and it was worth it.
- I’d be curious to see how Coma Food Truck would interpret this.
- BBQ duck, pan seared chicken and crisp prosciutto on pecan fruit bread. $17.75 (+$1.50 for Yam fries)
- The yam fries are crispy and pretty good and served with garlic aioli. The garlic aioli is made with mayo and there’s a noticeable amount of dill in it.
- I ordered this BBQ Duck Clubhouse when it was first introduced to the menu and I’m not sure if the recipe has changed, or if it was just my tastes, but it wasn’t as amazing as I remember it being.
- It’s pretty pricey and I can’t say I saw the value.
- The sandwich is small, but it’s stacked really high.
- The price is likely due to the pecan fruit bread, which there’s barely any of.
- It was probably the thinnest piece of bread I’ve seen cut for a sandwich, other than panini bread after it’s been pressed.
- It was nice and crispy and chewy though and I did love the sweet dates and nutty pecan flavours it brought to the sandwich.
- The pecan fruit bread is actually one of my favourite breads and it’s from Terra Breads in Vancouver.
- It was no doubt a meaty sandwich packed with layers of meat, but it was all really dry. The only moist part was the mayo, but there wasn’t much of that either.
- If I break down the layers it was prosciutto, layers of sliced chicken, BBQ duck, more layers of sliced chicken and then prosciutto, so it was mostly chicken and that’s mainly what I could taste.
- I think it was a pan seared soy sauce chicken, but it was very dry and not hot, and the prosciutto was thick, chewy and a bit jerky like rather than crisp.
- The duck was also chewy and a bit jerky like as well, but it was lost in the sandwich.
- The meats were well seasoned and not too salty, but I’m not sure if it’s always dry like this… ?
- I’d call this a chicken sandwich before I would a BBQ duck sandwich.
- It might be better off as a chicken BLT with some nice avocado and just scrap the duck.
- With Tahitian vanilla ice cream, caramel sauce and crunchy chocolate pearls $7.75
- I’ve had various versions of this, and this isn’t “the best”, but it’s my one of my favourite desserts from a chain restaurant – hence the 6/6.
- This photo is actually from another dining experience at the Cactus Club Cafe location in Richmond.
- I had it when it first came out on the menu a couple years ago when it was served with sour cream ice cream… and I miss that so much! I guess it was too adventurous for the clientele though.
- This peanut butter crunch bar is amazing.
- It’s creamy and moussey with a soft chocolate ganache and a crispy hazelnut bottom and it’s a bit salty too.
- The crispy hazelnut wafer crust makes it! It always does. I love that crust and then the added crunchy chocolate pearls top it off.
- Even “I’m not a fan of peanut butter” people would like this. It’s delicious!
- It’s made by another company, but I don’t care.
- For more gourmet versions of this dessert that are similar, try the EBO Chocolate P-Nut Butter Bar at Ebo Restaurant, the Chocolate Raspberry at Miku Restaurant, or Thomas Haas makes one too.
Cactus Club Cafe (Broadway & Ash)
These are samples of other dishes I had from an invited event at Cactus Club Cafe on Broadway & Ash. The dinner showcased their exclusive room in the back available for private events and dinner parties. It’s actually really nice, and the photo doesn’t do it justice.
Due to the portion size and it not being really representable of what would actually be served, my rating will be n/a. I can’t see the full portion size, so I can’t judge the value, overall flavour, or execution of the protein etc. I do know that I enjoyed each one, especially the halibut and the chicken, but for the price, you can find better at other places too.
On the table:
- Orange fennel salad, asparagus and peas, herb spaghettini, light saffron cream $25.50
- This was new to the spring/summer 2011 menu.
- I prefer fish with the skin, but being that it’s Cactus Club, I didn’t expect fish skin.
- The sauce was quite buttery and citrusy and the saffron was stronger than expected from a chain restaurant.
- It was a nice summery dish with orange notes and it had that tangy, sweet and savoury combination going on.
- The fennel gave it some crunchy texture and hint of licorice which complements orange flavours so well.
- Portabello, crimini, button and shiitake mushrooms, demi-glace, green beans, herb fingerling potatoes $23.25
- It was a classic chicken and mushroom dish, but it was done well.
- The sauce was actually quite gourmet and it was made with chicken stock, reduced red wine, demi glace, shallots and garlic. There was also some fresh herbs and a touch of butter to finish it off and give it that syrupy richness and shine.
- I just wish the skin on the chicken had been crispy.
- You could find this somewhere else, but for what it is, they actually do a fine job with it here.
- 12oz certified angus beef striploin with pernod peppercorn demi-glace $34.75
- Personally I like to order steaks at steakhouses.
- This wasn’t anything you couldn’t find anywhere else, but if you’re at Cactus Club and you want a decent steak, it does the job.