Throughout our trip to Alberta and the Canadian Rockies, we did take the opportunity to check out some well rated upscale restaurants. We’ve always enjoyed fine…but not fussy…dining and what better time to enjoy it than when you’re on vacation!
So…after a very long walk through the West Edmonton Mall exploring its many attractions and taking in the sights, it was time for dinner!
The Cactus Club at West Edmonton Mall is a bit plain looking on the outside but it is the only out facing restaurant at the mall. When I checked before our trip, this restaurant had scored 61 Excellent or Very Good reviews on Trip Advisor and only 5 Poor or Terrible reviews…well within my desired 10:1 good/bad ratio.
The Cactus Club features a wrap-around all-weather patio, a two tiered dining room and a menu crafted by Iron Chef America Champion, Rob Feenie. The restaurant stresses a menu that provides meals made with fresh, local and sustainable ingredients. For learn more about this celebrity chef, you can go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rob_Feenie.
The Cactus Club provides upscale casual dining…at least that’s how I’d describe it. This restaurant is just one of the 27 that comprise this group. There are 22 Cactus Club Restaurants in British Columbia, 4 in Alberta and there is 1 in Ontario.
This is one view of the restaurant’s all-weather wrap-around dining patio. Décor wise, I prefer something with a warmer feeling than the quasi industrial/modern chic look of the Cactus Club at West Edmonton Mall. Still, it is one of the big design trends that have stayed with us for some time now…and maybe I’m just stuck in the past…
We began our experience at the Cactus Club with a couple of alcoholic libations…a Stoli dirty martini ($9.75) for Laurie and a glass of “Cactus Blonde” beer ($6.00) for me. Laurie loves those extra olives!
The beverage menu at the Cactus Club is as long as the food menu! There are sparkling wines/champagnes, a solid assortment of wines, signature cocktails and martinis, signature beer and others as well, liquors, drink specialties and of course, after dinner drinks.
We started out our meal with the Beef Carpaccio appetizer. ($14.75) This consisted of peppercorn-crusted Canadian tenderloin, Dijon aioli, capers and grana padano cheese…along with the nice bread crisps shown in the photo. It was a very good way to start our meal!
Other options of interest on the starter menu included: Tuna Tataki, ($14.50), with seared albacore tuna, papaya slaw, pine nuts, yuzu vinaigrette and micro cilantro, and: the Ravioli + Prawn Trio, $13.00, with butternut squash and mascarpone ravioli, truffle butter sauce, sautéed jumbo prawns and pine nuts.
Laurie loves curry dishes…and we have never gotten into cooking fish at home. Consequently, for her entree, she chose the Thai Red Curry Pacific Lingcod. ($24.50) This was line caught lingcod with Thai red curry sauce, coconut almond rice, crispy wontons and micro cilantro. She thought her meal was excellent!
Other interesting sea food items included: Soy-Dijon Salmon, ($25.00), which consisted of steelhead salmon, whole grain barley, snap peas, shiitake mushrooms, soy butter sauce, grape tomatoes and cilantro, and; Prawn Spaghettini, ($20.50), with slow-roasted tomato sauce, chilies, fresh herbs and crostini.
More casual and less expensive items on the menu included a Szechuan salmon rice bowl, ($16.75), with steelhead salmon, miso mustard, broccoli, edamame, red peppers, snap peas, daikon and pea shoot salad and; Fish Tacos, ($14.00), with lingcod, chipotle aioli, shredded green cabbage and salsa fresca.
For my entrée, I went for the Double-Braised Pineapple Hoisin Short Rib. ($24.50) It comes with a pineapple ginger glaze on the beef, shiitake mushrooms, Korean chili sauce, buttered mashed potatoes and snap peas. Since I don’t care for mushrooms, I had them left off my order. This was a very good meal indeed!
There are a number of other beef options on the menu. Examples include: the Peppercorn New York Striploin, ($35.00), which consists of a 12oz certified angus beef striploin, pernod peppercorn demi-glace, buttered mashed potatoes and seasonal vegetables, and; the Creole Steak + Prawns, ($34.00), with a 9oz certified angus beef sirloin, Cajun spices, spicy creole butter, white wine sautéed creole jumbo prawns, buttered mashed potatoes and seasonal vegetables.
Lighter and less expensive items on the menu include: the Short Rib Sandwich, ($16.25), with caramelized onions, beef jus, emmental cheese on toasted sourdough with sea salted fries; the BBQ Duck Clubhouse, ($16.25), with Peking duck, roasted chicken, san daniele prosciutto on pecan fruit bread with sea salted fries, and of course: the Burger, ($16.00), made with certified angus beef, sautéed button mushrooms, aged cheddar, alder smoked bacon, red pepper relish accompanied with sea salted fries.
This is Andree, our waitress at the Cactus Club. She was helpful, efficient, fun, friendly…and she’s very attractive too!
Throughout our trip, something different happened whenever we were ready to pay our bill. Unlike in the USA, whenever they brought the bill to the table, they also brought a handheld card reader. The feeling is that this improves security as your card is never out of sight. Since I’ve been ripped off in a restaurant before, (Helena MT), I can see the rationale. On the downside however, it is possible for these wireless readers to be hacked and…it is awkward to have your server standing there when you’re calculating their tip.
Andree also did us a little favor… We didn’t know it until we got our bill, but she gave us this Apple Galette with ice cream, normally $8.00, ringing it as a promotion. Of course, she did know that I blog about restaurants and write some reviews for Trip Advisor as well. But hey, this restaurant was going to get positive feedback anyway! Maybe she just liked us...
If the Cactus Club Restaurant at West Edmonton Mall is any example of the quality offered by the other locations that comprise this upscale chain, we would definitely recommend stopping in for a top notch dining experience! To learn more about the Cactus Club Restaurants and to check out the menu, go to http://www.cactusclubcafe.com/.
Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…
We hope that you had a terrific Christmas…and thanks for stopping by!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave