Decided to try the new eating addition to "da mall" yesterday afternoon.
It was their scheduled "grand opening" although they had a media event and likely some soft openings earlier in the week.
Yes, I know it is yet another "chain" and goodness knows the west end has plenty of those already, i.e. Earl's, Moxies, Joey's, Red Lobster, Italian Gardens, Boston Pizza, etc.
However, I was generally impressed by what we saw and ate. Considerably better than their last incarnation in this city when they had the cows outside the 123 St and Jasper location before it went out of business.
Nicely set up. Lots of stainless steel, aluminum and red leather. Mainly booths throughout the dining room with a few tables set up against the windows which face what will be their outdoor patio if and when the weather co-operates [it is snowing as I type]. We elected to eat in the lounge as neither my wife nor I like booths or banquettes preferring to being able to push away from or pull into the table.
Interesting if not particularly inventive menu [it is a chain after all] and decent wine list but not as good a value as Earl's by comparison.
We elected to try three of the Rob Feenie inspired dishes. My wife had the butternut squash ravioli, I chose the sablefish in dashi broth and we split the barbequed duck, chicken and proscuitto served apparently on Terra fruit/nut bread.
All were good. My only quibble with the otherwise excellent sablefish was that it needed more vegetables in that it came with a few split fingerling potatoes and some asparagus spears floating in the broth. I probably would order a salad to add more greens the next time or check to see if other veggies were offerred a la carte.
We had a nice pinot noir from the Oliver area of the Okanagan, Le Coq and then some merlot from CA.
Service was very friendly. The Cactus Club had flown in quite a number of "front of house" staff from their Vancouver area locations to assist and train. The kitchen was perhaps a little slow but our waitress was quick to apologize for the delay.
Dessert was on her.
It is located in the north-east corner of "da mall" where the Sears auto-centre used to be housed so if you are like me and loathe going to "da mall" you can get in and out fairly quickly and avoid the crush and clubbers near the Bourbon Street entrances.
One curious ... at least for me ... design issue was that they elected to have no direct entrance/access from the mall itself so during the winter one will have to walk outside from Sears to get to the restaurant itself.
We'll be back as it is an alternative to our usual "haunts" in the area like Earl's, Koutouki, Chop and Boston Pizza ... yes, not fine dining but that is what happens when you live in the "burbs"......