|Cactus Club Cafe at Coal Harbour|
|Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics Torch|
I usually have quite the bad impression on chain restaurants, but since my aunt was in town and spontaneously invited us to have lunch with her in Downtown, a foodie can't say no.
|'Indoor patio' with windows that completely open to Coal Harbour|
This particular Cactus Club is situated right beside Vancouver's Olympic torch at the Vancouver Convention Centre, making it a great tourist magnet. The restaurant is extremely large with outdoor seating lining the exterior and tons of tables inside. We arrived at noon on a summer Saturday and were seated promptly. At first, we wanted to grab a seat under their signature yellow umbrellas outdoors, but I'm so glad they were all full. We ended up sitting at the section facing Coal Harbour. There were huge windows on one side and the roof above, allowing tons of the warm summer sunlight to shine on us. What awed me the most is how the windows could open. The entire side facing the water was now completely open, creating an 'indoor patio'. The seabreeze freely blew in; it really felt like you were outside. If you have the chance to be seated in this area, it is just like the outdoor seating but even better because it has a view! Just the seating alone is worth the visit. The open-air windows was the best part of my experience here.
|Cactus Club Menu|
Now, I didn't have high hopes for the food, despite what others have said. I've always viewed these 'higher class' chain restaurants like Earl's and The Boathouse as over priced for what you get. Items from fancy sablefish to simple spaghetti and casual tacos can be found on the menu. While examining their menu, I found a lot of dishes to be Asian inspired. Which usually turn out really good or really bad. Since I was dining with my grandparents, we didn't try any of the Asian-esque food. Also, there seems to be some special dishes by Rob Feenie from Food Network Canada which sounds exciting. Do remember that these dishes are not made by the celebrity chef's own hands but mass produced. It makes all the difference.
Getting on to what we did eat, both my brother and aunt ordered The Burger. It comes with Sea Salted Fries but you can substitute that with a salad or yam fries for an extra cost. By the way, the yam fries are really good! Fried till crunchy on the outside but still soft and meaty on the inside, yum~ This is probably worth order on the menu as my brother finished this in five minutes flat and my aunt continuously commented on what a great burger it was. When I was chatting with my dad at home, he said when he went to another Cactus Club, he remembers it being really good too. The beef patty is what makes this burger so good. It's juicy and tender. The numerous toppings also make this burger much more exciting. Every traditional burger topping is added, cheese, bacon, sauteed mushrooms, pickles, tomato, lettuce... Which is why this burger is called The Burger. The with a capital T. As a side note, I would avoid ordering the mini burgers because the patty may not be as juicy as the full size.
|Raincoast Greens Salad|
For myself, I got the Raincoast Greens Salad. It's absolutely massive! A mountain of mixed greens and shredded cabbage is tossed with their lemon vinaigrette and topped with spicy pecans, tomatoes, bell pepper, bluberries, feta cheese, one hard boiled egg, half a ripe avocado, and grilled chicken. It was a very refreshing salad because of the light lemon dressing, perfect for a summer entree. By favourite part was the cabbage; I could twirl it around my fork like spaghetti! It was really delicious. I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of avocado they gave, one half! Also, I really appreciate that it was ripe and mushy. Raw avocado doesn't showcase the beauty of the fruit. I love nuts in my salad, but I didn't really like the pecans because some seemed to be a tad on the burnt side. Since the salad dressing is somewhat sweet, I can see how the creator wanted to contrast that with some spiciness. But maybe a honey roasted nut or just a plain nut would've tasted less out of place. The worst part of the dish was the chicken. It was dry and not flavourful whatsoever. I would avoid anything with chicken on the menu. The chicken on this salad was the same chicken in my grandpa's burger below. Both were thin and overcooked. After clearing my plate, I was so full. But it was a very good full feeling because I wasn't weighed down and I know I just ate a ton of vegetables. When my salad arrived, my grandma immediately said this is what she wants to order this next time. Calories aside, this is a very good entree if you don't want to be full to the point that you can't move for three hours.
|Cajun Chicken Sandwich|
My grandpa got the Cajun Chicken Sandwich. It came in the same bun as the burger, so I wonder why it's not called the Cajun chicken burger... Like the chicken on the Raincoast Greens Salad, the chicken here was dry and thin. My grandpa doesn't have good teeth and he doesn't eat burnt food so he pretty much picked off half the chicken. There wasn't much in this sandwich and the chicken was no good so avoid this dish.
|Grilled Tuna Club|
Both my grandma and her friend ordered the Grilled Tuna Club. It looked better than the Cajun Chicken Burger for sure, but it was still not very well executed. Tuna is best eaten medium-rare. Tuna isn't naturally very moist and oily so by completely cooking it completely, the fish becomes dry and tough. Like canned tuna but still in one piece. I peered at my grandma and her friend's facial expressions every now and then and since they didn't praise the dish I assume it wasn't very good either.
Based on the dishes we did order, the food at Cactus Club Cafe is rather mediocre. Some simple food isn't even made for the ingredient to be eaten in its best state. Casual entrees like sandwiches are burgers are about $15, but for a only so-so dish, its really expensive. None of us ordered anything from the 'Mains' portion of the menu, where each dish is almost $30. For example, sablefish is one of my favourite types of fish to eat because it's extremely oily and moist, even more so than halibut. However, if it is cooked like the tuna, it would be a completely waste of the fish. Hopefully that isn't the case with the expensive mains or the food here really needs some alterations.
This is specific to the Coal Harbour location only: come for the seating and location and don't expect too much from the food. We spent a good 2 hours enjoying the view and ocean breeze at our table; it was too beautiful not to. The ambiance makes up for the quality of the food enough to make me consider coming back again. But only if there is a table by the open windows during the summer. By the time we left at 2pm, the restaurant was completely full and there was a long line up of customers waiting to be seated. I guess people tend to explore the city in the morning and have a later lunch.
Love from Coconut Crumpet's Corner ♡