By: Shelby Morrison
If you’ve ever visited the west coast of Canada, it is possible that you have tried Cactus Club Cafe. The chain has finally opened a Toronto location in The Financial District inside First Canadian Place. The restaurant features global cuisine using local, fresh ingredients.
The executive chef, Rob Feenie has published three books, starred in New Classics with Rob Feenie on Food Network Canada, and was the first Canadian to win, Iron Chef America, against Chef Masaharu Morimoto in 2005…
I was thrilled to attend a pre-opening cocktail event at the Cactus Club Café Toronto. The three-story restaurant is breathtaking. The atmosphere is elegant, without being too pretentious, and still has a casual feel. The gorgeous rooftop patio is decorated with greenery; string lights, and has a retractable roof.
Small plates, champagne, wine, and cocktails were served throughout the evening. I chose a glass of pinot noir, which was light and delicate, as well as a Frozen Bellini, which included peach schnapps, champagne, white rum and sangria.
Ceviche and Tuna Tataki – The ceviche included steelhead, sustainably harvested prawns, red onion, Thai basil, mint, cilantro, nuoc cham (sweet and tangy lime fish sauce). As for the tuna tataki, it combined seared ocean wise albacore tuna, papaya slaw, pine nuts, yuzu (citrus) vinaigrette, cilantro. These dishes had similar flavour profiles and were fresh, light, and flavourful.
I immediately feasted my eyes on some sort of slider and bit into their Crispy Chicken Sandwich. Panko-crusted chicken was topped with Swiss cheese, sambal mayo, lettuce, tomato, pickle and onion, all on a soft, slightly sweet bun. This was my favourite savoury dish of the night, so I had to have a second! The very mild spice paired with the crispy chicken and crunch from the pickle was such a mouthwatering combination.
Mini Lamb Lollipops were topped with mango-mint chutney, and sitting atop a curry sauce. The lamb was cooked perfectly, and infused with fragrant curry and mint.
Szechuan Chicken Lettuce Wraps contained sweet and spicy shrimp topped with peanuts, wontons, Korean chili sauce, and spicy yogurt. These were light, yet flavourful.
Another outstanding dish was the Butternut Squash Ravioli tossed in a truffle butter sauce topped with crispy sage and pine nuts. This dish melted in my mouth and left me wanting an entire plate of these.
Braised Short Rib with Mashed Potato with sweet port wine jus paired beautifully with the rich meat and creamy potato.
These small plates really added up and I was quite full. However, I am never too full for dessert, and good thing, because this dessert was insane! The Chocolate Mousse Trio was literally orgasmic. Chocolate mousse was mixed with sponge toffee pieces, and topped with a caramel foam. The entire dessert was sweet, crunchy and smooth, and entirely perfect. I could have also eaten many of these.
I will mention that every single staff member was overly friendly and accommodating. They were very attentive, including cleaning up immediately, refilling drinks, starting conversation, and always smiling. I would definitely return to Cactus Club Café again.