Cactus Club has been a favorite of Nancy and I for quite some time and we’ve had the chance to visit both Calgary locations since first meeting. Since we only want to post reviews for places we’d been to recently we held off on posting about Cactus Club and many others until we could return and try them again. This is for the most part a good idea in our view since the review is then current and if we’d had a bad experience in the past and the store was under new management or has simply improved our review will reflect what the restaurant is like now, however this can also backfire and the reverse take place sometimes and unfortunately this is one such occasion.
We hadn’t visited any Cactus Club Cafe in a while and when a friend from out-of-town called us and asked if we wanted to go for dinner we were quick to offer it as a suggestion, drawing from several favorable experiences in the past. Our friend agreed and we were off to the NE location.
From the very beginning things seemed to be less than we’d come to expect from this place and the staff. Our friend had arrived first and put her name on the list for a table, she was a little miffed that while waiting with the other patrons a group which had just entered was warmly greeted by the staff and immediately seated ahead of everyone else despite the fact no reservations are taken for dinner on week-ends after 5:30, however not knowing the circumstances I put this aside and soon we were asked to follow the hostess to a table. Much to my surprise the booth we were given had not yet been cleared and we gathered up the plates and glasses to one side ourselves to be removed by the staff.
After the table was cleaned we ordered our drinks, two strawberry daiquiri’s and I asked for a glass of the house brand beer Ugly Ale which I’ve enjoyed on many visits in the past. The daiquiri’s arrived at the table overflowing from the glass and making a sticky mess on the table. Our friend asked for a larger glass and I transferred her drink to it so as to minimize the mess, the drink seemed weak to her and she commented that she wondered if any alcohol was in it. I received my ale and promptly took a drink, what I tasted was awful, the beer had a horrible after taste which Nancy confirmed after saying it was in my head then trying some herself. I’ve ordered this beer many times and I have no idea what was wrong with this one, I asked the waitress to take it back and ordered a Cohiba Mojito to replace it. When this drink arrived I was disappointed to discover that it was very weak and watery.
We’d wanted to order the Ahi Tuna Poke that has been so great in the past but it appears to have been removed from the menu so the three of us shared a plate of Calamari as an appetizer which was very good, crispy and hot like it should be. I’d hoped the drinks were going to now prove to be the last issue of the evening, this however would turn out to be wrong.
Nancy ordered the BBQ Duck Clubhouse Sandwich with Yam Fries, our friend tried the Shrimp & Scallop Spaghettini and I asked for The Burger which all are chef Rob Feenie signature items, I ordered my sandwich with fries and requested a side of gravy. Our waitress asked if it was alright with me that the gravy would have peppercorns in it and loving pepper I said it would be fine. The spaghettini was the first thing to arrive and our dining companion was not impressed with the fact it had only two shrimp and one scallop in the entire dish, I too thought this was very poor value and not what I’ve come to expect from Cactus club.
The BBQ Duck Clubhouse that Nancy ordered looked quite good and she liked it without being overly impressed, it was not as good as many other dishes we’d had here with the duck being dry and since the Kung Pow Chicken bowl she wanted to order was no longer on the menu she made a new choice, it’s too bad that trying something new proved a mistake this time. When the server brought my burger I noticed that the bowl of gravy had spilled and the bottom of the bun was soaked, the “gravy” itself turned out to be a runny sauce with little flavor which in no way resembled gravy as I know it , this was actually the pernod peppercorn demi-glace they serve with other dishes and does not work with fries, my suggestion would to offer the jus from the beef dip rather than this when a guest asks for gravy. Aside from the soggy bun the burger was okay if a bit on the dry side and while not quite as good as others I’ve tried I would order it again.
We never heard from our waitress very often and when the meal was done we had to wait for an unusually long time before we saw her again and asked for the bill. When she returned I noticed that the beer I’d sent back was still there and she said she would try to have it removed by a manager. Some time passed and she returned with a new bill that reflected the proper amount.
I’m not sure what happened on this night and hope that it was a very unfortunate combination of errors that would not take place again but for the time being we will not be returning to Cactus Club as this was a truly bad dining experience.
RESPONSE FROM RESTAURANT:
From……: Christy Murphy
Thank you for taking the time to write about your unfortunate experience at our Barlow location. We appreciate your feedback and the chance to address your concerns.
I am very sorry that you were so disappointed with your overall dining experience at Cactus Club. Exceptional customer service is an area in which we strive to excel, so it is disappointing to hear that you have had such a poor experience. It is also one of our foremost goals to provide our guests with a well-prepared, good quality meal and once again I am sorry that your experience with our restaurant was not a positive one. Should you have any concerns during a future visit, please do not hesitate to ask for a manager; they will be more than happy to do whatever it takes to make things right for you. However, please be assured that your comments will immediately be forwarded to our Regional Manager for further review.
Would you please email me and let me know if I could email you personally (not on your wall!) to discuss this further?