October 19, 2013

Cactus Club Cafe–Jasper Avenue, Edmonton


Though I'm still struggling to figure out how this blog will fit into my new life, I thought I'd take the opportunity to pop back in and tell you about a restaurant reception I attended last week.

A new Cactus Club Cafe just opened up right in our neighbourhood, at 11130 Jasper Avenue. I was invited to the soft opening reception and took my good friend Irene (Jacques graciously offered to stay home so we wouldn't have to get a babysitter to give Lucie supper and put her to bed).

It was a lovely evening and made us both feel like celebrities, which isn't a bad thing once in a while. I'm sometimes invited to these types of events, but I rarely attend, mostly due to scheduling or because they're difficult to get to on public transport. But this restaurant is so close by that it was easy. And sometimes it's nice to say yes to an evening of free wine and food.


Cactus Club Cafe is a chain that started in Vancouver, and now has over two dozen restaurants across BC and in Edmonton. This is its second Edmonton location, with one at West Edmonton Mall already. The restaurant on Jasper is large, taking up almost the entire front of the building on the corner of Jasper and 111 st. It also boasts a large patio right on the street, complete with small trees and heating lamps (it was closed while we were there, but I noticed now that the restaurant is open for business, the patio is also open). It will be nice to have another big patio in the area come summer. It's also nice to see a new dining option in the Oliver neighbourhood, and so close by to us.

Before the reception, I emailed the media contact to let her know I had celiac disease, and the restaurant was very accommodating. There were several dishes I couldn't eat, but the kitchen also prepared a few small bites just for me, and I was pretty impressed with that. All of the food was delicious, and Irene loved everything she ate too. The wine also flowed freely throughout the evening.

I didn't find the restaurant space particularly exciting, though it was comfortable, with large booths and tables surrounding a bar in the centre of the room. The restaurant is divided into two sections, with the lounge, where we were, on one side and a more formal dining room on the other.



I wasn't really on my blogging game and missed taking any photos of the food, but the tuna tataki with avocado and citrus was a highlight, as well as the quinoa salad with pecans and feta cheese. Irene especially loved the mini bbq duck club sandwich on raisin bread, with crispy duck bacon, and the pineapple hoisin short rib bites.

There were many people from the Cactus Club staff, including managers and the owner, who were in from Vancouver for the opening, and several of them came over and chatted with us. Probably the best part of the evening was getting to meet Chef Matthew Stowe, Cactus Club's head of product development. Matthew is also the winner of Top Chef Canada Season 3. I must admit I've never watched the show, but Jacques and I love the original American series.

We chatted with Matthew and asked him questions about his career and his experience on the show, which was really interesting. He said the producers will often make contestants out to be something they're not, and edit people's comments so they are played completely out of context. Though I'm not really surprised, it was good to get that confirmation. Stowe seemed like a down-to-earth, humble guy, and I'm curious to search some clips from his season and see what he was like on the show.


All in all, it was a treat to be out on the town enjoying good food and wine. I think with this new location being so close, we'll definitely be visiting Cactus Club Cafe in the future.

Cactus Club Cafe
11130 Jasper Ave.
Edmonton, AB

And now for a little perspective, here’s  my usual mealtime view:


I couldn’t check in here without adding a photo of la belle Lucie. Hope to be back soon.