After running some errands in the west end, Mack and I converged on Cactus Club Cafe for dinner, spurned on somewhat by gift cards we had on hand. Our first trip since being pampered at their VIP opening, we were ready to see what the restaurant offered on a day-to-day basis.
I was happy to see that the patio was open, but as both the dining room and outdoor seating required at least a fifteen minute wait, we elected instead to wander into the half-full lounge. About a half hour later, the lounge was packed, so we were happy to arrive when we did.
The bellini was calling my name that day, and as I found at the opening, it was refreshing yet deceivingly potent. On a more elegant occasion, I would have ordered the sablefish, but I felt like fries and a sandwich that day. I was eager to sample a full-size version of their BBQ duck clubhouse ($17), which had been my favourite item that night in April. Mack decided on their aptly named The Burger ($14), which also seemed fitting for the lounge setting. As Mack was feeling a bit puckish, we also sprung for the smoked cheddar spinach dip ($11.25) to start.
Service was brisk throughout our stay; Cactus Club was rolling like a well-oiled machine. Our appetizer arrived in good time, hot and perfectly cheesy. I typically don’t seek out spinach dips, but this version, packed with grilled chicken, fresh tomatoes, parmesan and mozzarella, took the edge off the sour cream.
Smoked Cheddar Spinach Dip
My duck clubhouse arrived looking rather small, but once I started to devour the sandwich, I realized its richness more than made up for size. It was a bit messy to eat, but the layers of carved duck, pan-fried chicken, and crisped pancetta, sandwiched between pecan fruit bread, were worth it. The fries were hot and crispy, but nothing special.
BBQ Duck Clubhouse
Mack’s burger was even more of a task to eat – the pool of liquid at the bottom of his plate grew to a formidable size by the end. He liked it – a juicy, tender patty, coupled with classic toppings of aged cheddar, sautéed mushrooms, and bacon.
As WEM restaurants go, Cactus Club is my new go-to eatery after a day of shopping. I’m just not sure I’d go out of my way to eat there, knowing that a crowd and a car jam would be waiting for me.
Cactus Club Cafe
1946, 8882 170 Street NW