Bring Out the Gimp

Musings on pop culture by freelance journalist Shawn Conner

Archive for the tag “dining”

Casual fine dining at Cactus Club

Tuna Tataki

- by Shawn Conner/photos by Robyn Hanson

Last Thursday night, March 10, I was fortunate enough to find myself at the Cactus Club location on Broadway near Granville, feasting on a specially prepared dinner for six.

My girlfriend had won the dinner, valued at $400, for leaving a comment in answer to a question (about favourite wines) on the Cactus Club Facebook page. Her parents, sister and sister’s boyfriend, and myself went along to sample the Rob Feenie specialties that the restaurant chain hopes will position it as “casual fine dining” restaurant, i.e. a cut above franchises like Milestones and Earls.

Mission accomplished, as far as we were concerned.

Incubating in the warm yet brooding back room while rain poured down outside the south-facing windows, we were treated to one of the tastiest, most flavourful meals I’ve had in a long while.

The well-thought-out and enthusiastically introduced (by manager Andrew Pace and executive sous chef Kevin Snyder) wine-and-food pairings included BC plonk (mostly whites, though a robust Merlot complemented the meaty third course) with starters tuna tataki and goat-and-feta flatbread, a second course of butternut squash ravioli topped with a succulent prawn, and a headline act of hunter chicken and strip sirloin steak.

Two irresistible desserts, an apple galette (French for “crusty cake”) and peanut butter crunch bar (along with some vanilla bean gelato) finished us off.

Robyn Hanson‘s pics do far more justice to the food than my words ever could. Suffice it to say, that night the Cactus Club won over some converts who will no longer think of it as just a wings-and-beer kind of joint.

Rob's Goat Cheese & Feta Flatbread

Rocket Salad

Butternut Squash & Prawn Ravioli

Rob's Hunter Chicken

Peppercorn New York Striploin

Apple Gallette & Peanut Butter Crunch Bar

See more mouth-watering foodie photos on Robyn Hanson’s Flickr page.

Cocktail Kitchen finale

Cocktail Kitchen finale at The Refinery, Vancouver, Feb 7 2011. Robyn Hanson photo

Cocktail Kitchen finale at The Refinery, Vancouver, Feb 7 2011. Robyn Hanson photo

Last Monday (Feb 7), a hundred+ people gathered at The Refinery. The Granville Street restaurant and bar was celebrating the end of its Cocktail Kitchen series, a seven-month-long competition between the city’s bartenders.

Each Wednesday, a different bartender would face the challenge of coming up with three different cocktails to go with a three-course meal based on regional recipes. Diners would rate the food, the drink and the overall experience. The winning bartender from each month was invited to compete again the next month. At the end of it all, one bartender and one patron would win the grand prize of a trip to the Napa Valley.

Congratulations to JT, the winning bartender. Here are some photos from the evening, courtesy Robyn Hanson.

Cocktail Kitchen finale at The Refinery, Vancouver, Feb 7 2011. Robyn Hanson photo

Cocktail Kitchen finale at The Refinery, Vancouver, Feb 7 2011. Robyn Hanson photo

Bartender Marlo Panucci at The Refinery, Vancouver, Feb 7 2011. Robyn Hanson photo

Bartender Marlo Panucci at The Refinery, Vancouver, Feb 7 2011. Robyn Hanson photo

Peter Raptis at The Refinery, Vancouver, Feb 7 2011. Robyn Hanson photo

Peter Raptis at The Refinery, Vancouver, Feb 7 2011. Robyn Hanson photo

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