Torontonicity was invited to sample the menu at the new Cactus Club Cafe at First Canadian Place in Toronto. Owned by celebrated Canadian chef Rob Feenie, the cafe is a collection of three restaurants, including a third floor deck with a retractable roof and is the first eastern Canada location of the popular restaurant.
The Cactus Club Cafe opened at First Canadian Place in late October 2015. We visited on a recent Sunday in November and were surprised to see how busy it was at the lunch hour considering that First Canadian Place on a Sunday is about as crowded as Drake’s “Hotline Bling” dance party.
We were ushered up an elevator to the third floor Deck, but got a glimpse of the first and second floors. Kate’s Bar, named after the paintings of Kate Moss that adorn the room, is on the main floor and is the place for cocktails. The bar includes additional seats on the Adelaide Street Patio. The second floor features the Rob Feenie Dining Room and Lounge, which seats over 100 people in the dining room and 85 people in the lounge and can be booked as a private venue.
The Deck offers a very casual ambiance with tables and high-backed bar chairs, guys in baseball caps and toques making the trek from Liberty Village and HD TV screens broadcasting Sunday afternoon NFL games. We were offered a cocktail, but declined and ordered Cranberry and Pineapple juices instead. We did see some wonderful-looking Bellinis ($8.50) at a nearby table. Our server asked if we wanted to taste a smaller portion of an appetizer before having our entrées. We opted for the Ravioli and Prawn, which was made of butternut squash and mascarpone ravioli with truffle butter sauce, a Jumbo Prawn, pine nuts and crispy sage. Each of us was given one ravioli and we were grateful because this dish, although richly deliciuos, is very filling. A regular appetizer serving will include three ravioli and shrimp for $14.50.
My dining partner ordered the Teriyaki Chicken Rice Bowl, $17.50, which included bell peppers, broccoli, braised red cabbage, bean sprouts, spicy yogourt, chicken and white rice. You are given the option of brown or white rice. She really enjoyed this healthy dish and thought the flavours complemented each other well.
I ordered Rob’s Crispy Chicken Sandwich, $15.50, a mountain high sandwich that was specially created for the Toronto opening. I had to remove the top half of the bun in order to get at this baby. The sandwich was a spicy deliciousness, with the crunchy, panko-crusted chicken, swiss cheese, sambal mayo, tomato, pickle and onion creating a symphony of textures. My only complaint was I found the spices in the mayo to be a bit on the salty side. The sandwich is served with the best fries ever: piping hot, thin and crispy.
Other dishes created specially for the Toronto opening include Veal and Porcini Pappardelle, Duck Confit, Lamb Medina, Kale and Grilled Chicken Salad, Lingcod Cocotte, Double Braised Short Ribs and Feenie’s Beef Duo, a combination of the Double Braised Short Ribs with an AAA tenderloin steak.
Old school R&B music including Marvin Gaye and Janet Jackson infiltrated the room.
Here’s a glimpse of the retractable roof on the third floor Deck that will even melt snow.
The Miami-L.A. vibe at the Cactus Club Cafe at First Canadian Place is quite an anomaly when you consider that the area is underpinned by the likes of Reds, Bymark and The Calvin Bar. Our country has a new leader: maybe the Financial District needs a bit of young blood to rejuvenate it too.