Restaurant review: Cactus Club Cafe (Market Crossing)

On this weekend, on an impulse, I decided to head to the shopping plaza in south Burnaby and grab lunch at the Cactus Club on the corner of Byrne Road and Marine Way.

Upon arrival, we were immediately seated in the patio area of the restaurant. It’s bright and airy and cool, even on a hot summer day.

We started with an appetizer size Caesar Salad

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This is a large (for a starter salad) serving of fresh romaine lettuce, dressed in a lemony caesar dressing, topped with shaved Parmesan cheese and crunchy croutons.

I found the dressing very acidic.   But the greens were fresh and crisp, and the croutons were crunchy.

Next came the Calamari

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This is a large portion (for an appetizer) of tenderized squid, battered and deep-fried to a light crisp.  There were also some battered and deep-fried red peppers and jalapeno peppers as well. It’s served with a tzatziki dipping sauce, a lime wedge, and a chipotle dipping sauce.  This was very good.  The squid was tender and the batter was crispy and well seasoned.  The chipotle dipping sauce was pretty mild, didn’t really pick up much smokiness from the chipotle peppers.  The tzatziki was quite garlicky.

Next came the szechuan chicken lettuce wraps

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This is a stir fry of chicken with roasted peanuts and a sweet and spicy Szechuan glaze, topped with crispy won-ton strips, fresh scallions and cilantro.  It’s served with a spicy yogurt sauce and a few leaves of fresh iceberg lettuce.

I felt the chicken was over sauced.  It overwhelmed everything else in the dish.  You really couldn’t taste the chicken, or the peanuts, or the fresh cilantro or scallions because of the dominance of the sauce.  Even using the yogurt dipping sauce did little to take the edge off the Szechuan glaze.  But the lettuce was fresh and crisp (but we probably could have used an extra couple of leaves).

The final dish was a ravioli & prawn trio

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This is three hand-made ravioli, filled with butternut squash and mascarpone cheese, served with sautéed prawns. It’s topped crispy sage, toasted pine nuts and a butter sauce infused with truffle oil.  This dish had the best overall execution of the meal.  The ravioli were made from fresh pasta, and had a nice al dente texture to them.  The butter sauce with truffle oil was rich and creamy but still light, with some nice earthiness of truffles.  The prawns were cooked to just the right doneness, and the ravioli stuffing was smooth and creamy and mild.  The fried sage provided some nice herbiness, but the pine nuts were barely noticeable (there was so little of them).

This appears to be one of the Cactus Clubs newer locations, it’s in immaculate condition.  Our servers were very pleasant and friendly, albeit a bit hard to get hold of.  I might think it’s because of understaffing, but the restaurant was not very busy at this time, and there seemed to be ample staff on hand.

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