Wednesday 29 November 2017

Cactus Club Cafe saying Goodbye to the Old and Hello to the New

Cactus Club and I go way back - way way back - all the way back to when I was still in elementary school. In particular, Cactus Club Cafe on Lansdowne and 3 Road in Richmond has been mine and my family's main location. I have celebrated numerous birthdays, my high school and undergrad graduation and milestones big or small with a meal at Cactus' Richmond location. 

It goes without saying that I was devastated - traumatized even! - when I had heard my beloved restaurant location was closing. I may not remember the so called "flying cows" or "red checkered table spreads," but the interior I remember is MY CACTUS! I also acknowledge that I struggle with change. Big or small, any change is extremely tough for me. I think it comes down to the emotional attachments I make and more importantly, the memories. 

I think Cactus Club realized that I am their number 1 obsessive super fan, so they invited me to their closing party. I missed it as I had work - boo, but I heard there was a COW - not a real one - at the closing party as an homage to their original decor. None the less, though I missed the closing party, I did make it a point to have dinner at the location just a few more times before the doors closed permanently. 

I got to attend the opening party for their new location in Richmond Centre (RC). As I am a frequent shopper at RC, I have gone past the construction site countless times, so it was really exciting to finally get a peak inside. The entrance faces 3 Road and for the time being, there is a red carpet lined with red velvet ropes leading to the entrance. 

The interior is very different from the original Richmond location. There is a juxtaposition in every element between the two interiors. The quirky weird gaudy in a good way gold framed paintings have been replaced with simple modern paintings. The wrought iron embellishments from the doors to the heat lamps have been replaced with walnut wood furnishings. The restaurant itself as a whole has brighter lighting and increased seating space. A stunning restaurant with clean lines and well thought out details. 

My biggest concern about the location being in a mall was the patio... because I ALWAYS sat in the covered patio area. They managed to keep the covered patio concept at this new location; however, it is a bit cramped for my liking considering how spacious the previous location was, but I appreciate Cactus working to include it in the new location as best as possible. 

The restaurant layout is different from a "normal" restaurant floor plan. There are very clear partitions between the patio, bar and dining room. By having the dining room its own entity, Cactus Club now feels more friendly for families with young children (My parents still took me when I was young haha). There are television screens in the patio area and it really bothers me as I go out for lunch to disconnect from electronics and focus on the people around me and the food. 

I really love the new bar as it is located in the centre of the restaurant and is constructed as an oval. I really appreciate not having to stare at a wall or kind of pushed to an end of the restaurant. It also makes the space feel much bigger. Plus the deep blues and aqua green blown glass pendant lights above the bar are stunning! 

Cactus Club Lansdowne was one of the few standalone restaurants that was not attached to a mall, hotel, or shopping plaza. I feel that is why I really loved the old location because when I went to eat there, I was solely going for Cactus Club and not businesses attached to the space. But, there are two locations downtown that are detached - Coal Harbour & English Bay - which are also newer locations, so I know I can still get a similar experience at those locations. 

Aside from the massive moose head and neon Bellini Tuesday sign over looking the entrance to the bathrooms and the naked man painting with impressive chest hair, I will miss most is the black gargoyle fountain! I loved the dark dramatic look of the water fountain in the midst of the bright sun lit patio. Going to miss those winged demons and secretly hoping Cactus Club Cafe kept the fountain and might casually drop it off at my door step. I promise to give it a good home! 

To coincide with the re-opening of Cactus Richmond were two new cocktails: Late Harvest Daiquiri and Whiskey Ginger Smash. I love cocktails and prefer fruity flavours, so the Late Harvest Daiquiri was perfect for me! A blackberry Saskatoon berry cassis was poured over the Bacardi white rum slush and finished with lime, elderflower and a frozen blackberry for garnish. The flavours were balanced and everyone at my table enjoyed it. The second drink, Whiskey Ginger Smash, was very strong since it was Virginia black whiskey, ginger, rosemary, lemon and soda. 

Owner Richard Jaffray was also present at the opening party and he teased us about some upcoming additions to the menu. One of them is going to be a dessert and I am so ready to try it because we all know I love desserts.  Locations and decor can change, but if the food is on point, that is all that matters. Really looking forward to that and I am just happy that Cactus Club is serving up its delicious food once again in Richmond.


Original Richmond Cactus Club Location | Black Gargoyle Fountain centre of patio
Original Richmond Cactus Club Location | Black Gargoyle statue on fountain
Original Richmond Cactus Club Location | Stone fireplaces in patio area
Original Richmond Cactus Club Location | 1992 to 2017 !!!
Appetizer Potato Skins | Bacon bits, green onion, cheese, chipotle aioli 
Entree Jambalaya Rice Bowl | shrimp, chicken, chorizo sausage, vegetables, bacon, spicy tomato sauce, black bean salsa, crème fraîche
Entree Jambalaya Rice Bowl | shrimp, chicken, chorizo sausage, vegetables, bacon, spicy tomato sauce, black bean salsa, crème fraîche
Entree The Feenie Burger | smashed certified angus beef®, sautéed mushrooms, aged cheddar, smoked bacon, red relish, mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard
Cactus Club Richmond Centre | Opening Night!

Mini Chicken Tacos were delicious! | mexican-style braised chicken, avocado, lettuce, pickled radish, onions and jalapeños, feta, sour cream, cilantro, sea salted fries
Late Harvest Daiquiri | bacardi white rum, blackberry, saskatoon berry, cassis, lime and elderflower
Whiskey Ginger Smash | virginia black whiskey, ginger, rosemary, lemon and soda

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