A few of us were hoping to grab a drink despite just having a huge company Christmas dinner. Cactus Club Cafe was chosen since two people in our group won 100$ gift cards, unfortunately one of the winners could not make it so we decided to pick a later date to use them, nonetheless we still went. We were seated at the open heated ‘patio’ side of the restaurant, with dim lighting and a warm fireplace, it set the mood for a very relaxing and and sophisticated way to end the night.
Despite having just ate, a few rounds of appetizers were ordered to be shared with our group of 6.
Calamari – red peppers, jalapeño, fresh dill, chipotle aioli, tzatziki
Cactus uses the small cuttlefish size squid for their calamari, resulting in the smaller rings. They were lightly battered, and fried together with some jalapeños and slices of red bell peppers, the gentle sprinkle of dill made this dish brighten up and more refreshing. The dipping sauces were generic but paired nicely with the dish.
Potato Skins – blended cheeses, cured bacon, fresh chives, spicy yogurt
The skins were alright, I still much prefer Flying Beaver’s over Cactus, but the yogurt was an interesting change than the usual mayo or ketchup.
Crispy Yam Fries – with garlic aioli
Someone really craved yam fries, and the group complied. Sprinkled lightly with sea salt, I find that it wasn’t fried enough, resulting in a rather soggy fry. Once again, the usual condiment; mayo. I can’t complain much since I’m a mayora, but I just wished there was a bit more creativity, or least with the flavours of mayo that would excite the average eater.
Beef Carpaccio – peppercorn-crusted tenderloin, grainy dijon aioli, pickled shallots, capers, parmesan, crostini
7 thinly sliced beef with 5 shaved parmesan, topped with a small arugula salad was the saddest Beef Carpaccio I’ve ever had. It had pretty generic flavouring, yet all the things that were added felt just like up-selling an illusion of a high end dish. For it to include the circular sigil of “RF” meaning “Cactus Club Cafe’s culinary vision is led by Canada’s first Iron Chef Champion America, Rob Fennie’ felt like a complete letdown.
Overall, large chains like this along with The Keg, Milestones, etc. satisfies as a crowd-pleaser. There is always something for anyone on the menu, and nothing is too extreme that would turn you away. The drinks and ambiance were good, but food was lackluster and a bit disappointing. I would have much preferred the aforementioned ones more.