To some, it seems out-of-the-ordinary for me to dine at a chain restaurant. In fact, it is downright shocking for others as I've stated that there are many great independent restaurants for the same price (or even less). Alas, that is only an assumption due to my desire to try original and unique food. I actually do not mind heading to these spots every now and then because I know what I'm going to get (and if I don't, they will generally make it right). Furthermore, it takes the guessing out of the equation and really, it satisfies almost everyone (except for food snobs of course).
So this post is an amalgamation of several visits to the Lougheed Cactus Club (since their menu is rather large and diverse). So in no particular order, I'll talk about the Dry Ribs first. Yah, this appie is as exciting as a Jim Benning news conference, but I happen to like gnawing on bones (is that why Viv calls me a dog?). These were indeed very dry and crispy. I would've liked to see a touch more seasoning though as it was kinda bland. Okay, before you laugh at me and while my parents disown me, I actually enjoyed the Wor Wonton Soup. I've ordered it on several occasions and it is what it is. The one thing I didn't like is the saltiness of the Peking duck broth, they need to dial it down a notch. Plump, tender and nicely seasoned, the wontons were good for what they were. But no, I will say this will never challenge a real wonton soup.
Although not known for their steaks, I found the Mushroom Sirloin to be pretty enjoyable. Furthermore, it was a substantial amount of food and I really shouldn't have attempted to finish it at 1:00am in the morning. Well-charred while evenly medium-rare, the meat was juicy and super tender. There was a considerable amount of red wine mushroom sauce which was rather salty (yet with lots of mushroom and red wine flavour). The mash was creamy and smooth and the asparagus was not overcooked. I'm not sure that my Hunter Chicken was necessarily a "lighter" choice than the steak as it was a large portion as well. The large butterflied breast was moist and tender while bathed in a salty mushroom sauce. They do like their salt here...
One of the more inexpensive (relatively) signature items on the Cactus Club menu is The Feenie Burger consisting of smashed certified angus beef, sautéed mushrooms, aged cheddar, smoked bacon, red relish, mayonnaise, ketchup and mustard. Sounds pretty basic right? Indeed it is, but executed well. Sure, it isn't my favourite burger in town (the Pourhouse is IMO), but it does what it's supposed to do with moist beef and the right condiments on a soft bun. I think the relish brings the whole thing together with a sweet and tangy brightness. Another solid item we had was the Grilled Tuna Club with tarragon tartar, bacon, cilantro and pickled ginger. Tuna was perfectly rare while the bite of the ginger kept each bite lively.
Continuing on with even more visits, we ended up getting the Kobe Meatballs to start. These massive meatballs were surprisingly un-meaty (is that a word?). They were so overprocessed, it was bordering on mushy. On the positive side, the tangy and flavourful tomato sauce was a nice compliment. For my main, I went for the Soy-Dijon Salmon. It was flaky and moist despite being cooked all-the-way-through. It was mildly seasoned with a slight char. I found the soy-dijon to be overly salty with plenty of tang. Underneath, the crunchy snap peas was both a textural delight and a shot of sweetness.
Milhouse had the Bengal Chicken Curry which was super mild. With that being said, it wasn't lacking spices as we could definitely taste the cumin and coriander. The bits of chicken were comprised of tender dark meat. Interestingly, the flatbread was more like a crunchy cracker than bread-like. And if it had to be noted, this was not remotely close to an actual Bengali curry. For dessert, Sweet Tooth had the Peanut Butter Crunch Bar. It was creamy and smooth with the essence of peanut while being easy on the sugar. The best part was the crispy crust which was a nice textural contrast.
Lionel Hutz had the White Chocolate Cheesecake which was light and almost fluffy while maintaining a certain density. It was sweet, but not overly sweet. Again, not the most incredible dessert we've ever had, but solid with few complaints. Realistically, that is what Cactus Club is all about. Generally predictable and good food with consistent service all in a lively dining space. Just remember to bring lots of money and to avoid the Asian-inspired dishes.
- Decent and sometimes good food
- Consistently attentive service
- Lively atmosphere
- Not cheap
- Heavy on the salt
- Stay away from the Asian-inspired dishes