The restaurant is slated to open in March. Inside, things are still very much under construction but ticking along, with the shell of the kitchen and curved bar in place in place at the entrance. A multi-level floor makes the most of the views allowing the booths at the back to look over the tables at the front.
This Cactus will be the largest in Metro Vancouver, with seating for 300 people inside and up to 200 on the patio, which will stretch the length of Jack Poole Plaza. (Currently, the North Burnaby Lougheed is the largest in Metro Vancouver, with 217 seats inside and 81 on the patio.)
The most impressive feature is the atrium, which faces west onto the water and Stanley Park. According to the artist's rendering, it will have sliding glass windows that will let in the air, and the glass ceiling wraps around. It will be a pretty sweet view.
According to Cactus Club founder and president Richard Jaffray, there are 22 restaurants in the chain now. He estimates that 80 percent of the menu items are available at all locations, while 10 to 20 percent are unique to certain locations, based on the clientele. Some restaurants in the suburbs, for example, offer potato skins, while the English Bay location is the only one with roasted butternut squash soup.
At a media lunch at the English Bay location (1790 Beach Avenue), executive chef Rob Feenie introduced some of the new dishes that have just launched at various locations or will debut in the spring. Here’s a sampling:
The spicy albacore tuna cone is currently at the Ash Street location (575 West Broadway), which is where the test kitchen is located, and is slated for Coal Harbour. It has pickled ginger, avocado, cucumber, and crispy tempura bits and is wrapped in spinach-flavoured soy paper.
The quinoa and arugula salad is currently on the menu at the Ash Street location and will be launched throughout the chain in the spring. It’s a variation on the recipe in Feenie’s new cookbook Rob Feenie’s Casual Classics: Everyday Recipes for Family and Friends and features arugula, feta cheese, snap peas, spicy pecans, and a sherry-lemon vinaigrette.
The roasted salmon and green pea ravioli is a riff on Feenie’s famed butternut squash ravioli. It’s stuffed with green peas and ricotta in a truffle butter sauce, and served with wild mushrooms and steelhead salmon. This dish will likely be launched at all locations in the spring.
The Thai red curry Pacific lingcod with coconut almond rice has been on all Cactus menus since the fall.
A customer favourite, the apple gallette by pastry chef Wendy Boys is currently at all Cactus locations.