Reader. Writer. Romantic.

Location:  101 – 6070 200th Street, Langley BC
Website:  https://www.cactusclubcafe.com/

For the longest time I’ve wanted to return to this restaurant.  The first time I went was many years ago with my family, but the Raincoast Greens made such an impression on me that I’ve always wanted to return, especially since I had now developed a palate that could discern “good” from “bad.”

We had tried going back in Calgary when Julia visited for wedding dress shopping, but the restaurant was so full, we weren’t able to get a seat.  It was kind of the manager on duty to offer his business card, stating that the situation could have been handled better and would call us to invite us back.  However, as kind as the sentiment was, we never received a call back.  While I was disappointed, it did not diminish my desire to try this place out.

After much delay, we finally got to go!  As we were running some errands in the Langley/Fort Langley area, we decided to stop in at the Langley location for lunch.  We made it at about two, so it wasn’t quite happy hour, but no matter.  We were going to eat here regardless.

After a quick perusal of the menu and calculation regarding our course of action, we decided on an all appetizers lunch.  We ordered the Tuna Stack, Calamari, and Ravioli + Prawn Trio (we ended up adding one so we each got two).  I, again, was starving and the kitchen was pretty quick in getting our dishes out to us.  All three appetizers came out at the same time.

The Tuna Stack was essentially a tuna poke, using ocean wise™ albacore, citrus tamari vinaigrette, nori, sesame, avocado, micro cilantro, and wonton chips on the side.  One bite and I was in love.  Maybe it was because for the last little while we had been having fairly greasy food and this fresh, citrusy dish was a bright and welcome change to what we had we been having the last few days.  Everything was well seasoned, the flavours were balanced and complimented one another beautifully.  If I could, I would eat the entire thing on my own, despite not being able to handle raw fish all that well.

The calamari was the most disappointing of the three dishes.  With ingredients like peppers and jalapenos, I had not expected much because that was pretty much the norm.  Tzatziki sauce is pretty common as an accompaniment to calamari, but the chipotle aioli was something different.  Unfortunately not a good different.  Both sauces, with their creaminess, exacerbated the deep fried oiliness of the calamari.  Most of the calamari was well cooked, but there were a few that were overcooked, dry, and hard.   I had thought that the addition of dill would have been a saving grace, but the dill did not provide any additional flavour to the overall dish.

In contrast, the Ravioli + Prawn Trio was a masterpiece.  I have never been more impressed by a pasta as I have been by this.  The ravioli was a butternut squash and mascarpone ravioli, lightly accented by a truffle butter sauce, each ravioli topped with a single sautéed jumbo prawns exquisitely seasoned and sprinkled with pine nuts.  The dish we ordered was the appetizer size, but now I know, I would gladly order the entree size and guiltlessly consume the entire dish.  Even with the price being slightly over $25 for the entree size, I would still order it.  The richness was done just right so that it wasn’t heavy and did not leave me feeling bloated or sick.

All in all, this was great experience.  The wait staff were very attentive and ready to help whenever necessary.  They didn’t act like the staff at the Calgary location we had originally gone to (haughty and snobby).  I would 100% return to this restaurant.  This was one of the best dining experiences I’ve had the pleasure to partake in.  I’d give this restaurant a 4.5/5 and would definitely recommend this place to all those who wish to indulge.

cactus club

Cactus Club Exterior

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Cactus Club Interior (behind)

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Cactus Club Interior (in front)

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Tuna Stack (front), Calamari (top left), and Ravioli + Prawn Trio (top right)

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Location: 22596 Lougheed Hwy, Maple Ridge, BC

This was unfortunately another instance of where the menu looked better than the chef’s execution of the dishes.  Like the night before, I would be disappointed yet again.

We took a short walk from Julia’s condo to the restaurant, uphill in the blustery cold (nothing compared to Calgary, but when you’re not completely prepared for the weather, it is a bit chilly).  We entered the restaurant and were greeted with a choice: the booth seat or the table in the back corner.  Richard made the executive decision to sit at the table.  As I had no preference, it didn’t matter…or so I thought.  The booth was generally avoided because they had placed a broom and dustbin right next to the table, while the one in the back corner was situated right next to the other door, which would blow cold air at those unfortunate to be sitting there.  We, of course, had the misfortune of experiencing that.

Since we were self-seated, my concern was the same as it often is in these kinds of restaurants: how long would it take for the staff to notice the arrival of new patrons?  Luckily, we were noticed quite quickly and menus presented to us.  While they don’t have a website, places like zomato had images of the menu that patrons has uploaded and I had taken the time to look through to decided what I wanted.  Even so, I still had some difficulty at the restaurant what I wanted.

It took some time before our waitress returned to take our drink order.  All three of us ordered milkshakes; Julia and I had the cherry chocolate milkshake, while Richard ordered the butterscotch milkshake.  For a cherry chocolate milkshake, it didn’t have very much of a cherry taste.  So, it was essentially a chocolate milkshake.  Richard, for reasons unknown, decided he was going to add pancake syrup to his already, very sweet butterscotch milkshake (while I did not try this, in my experience, butterscotch is sickeningly sweet).

Another waitress came by to take our lunch order a short time later.  Julia got the French Toast, Richard the Tuna Melt, and I ordered the Mac and Cheese Burger.  Julia’s was the first to arrive:  three massive slices of French toast smothered in a strawberry sauce and whipped cream (which Julia had upgraded to, she had the choice of BBQ pulled pork or the strawberry sauce with whipped cream, she chose the latter).  It was followed by Richard’s, which was somewhat ordinary.  Mine, as per usual as of recently, arrived last.  The fries appeared somewhat lackluster, limp, pale, and unappealing.  For a mac and cheese burger, I expected something more innovative than the regular burger fixings (lettuce, tomato, red relish, mayo, cheese, and pickles) and mac and cheese just laid down between two buns.  My first thought was “maybe they’ll make the buns out of mac and cheese.”  To my disappointment, they did not.  The burger did not hold the mac and cheese well and the moment I picked up the burger and took my first bite, practically all the mac and cheese had fallen out.  The taste of the mac and cheese was so unnoticeable that had someone else ordered it for me, I would never have known that that’s what made this burger unique.  Normally, I would say that looks aren’t everything, but when it came to the fries, they really were everything.  They were unsalted, so bland and limp just exactly as they looked.  Luckily, I was able to find a few salvageable crunchy pieces. Julia’s French Toast was delicious, especially the strawberry sauce (which I’m sure Braeden would have loved), but it was so sweet that there was no way that I would have ever been able to finish the thing.  One bite was all I needed.  Especially considering the fact that our milkshakes were already pretty sweet, this took it a little over the top.

Based on today’s experience, I can’t see myself coming back here or recommending it to others to try.  I’d give it a 2/5.  My final gripe is that the apostrophe doesn’t belong there. (50s not 50’s)

Bobby Sox

Bobby Sox Interior

Bobby Sox 2

Bobby Sox Interior

Bobby Sox 8

Bobby Sox Interior

Bobby Sox 3

One of the signs on the wall above the pass (where food comes out of the kitchen)

Bobby Sox 4

Cherry Chocolate Milkshake

Bobby Sox 5

French Toast

Bobby Sox 6

Tuna Melt

Bobby Sox 7

Mac and Cheese Burger

Staring at the green light
Blinking in the distance
Thinking about her

But she doesn’t know
Doesn’t care
As I sit here pining
For a love I cannot have

It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do
To watch that light blinking
To watch that light fade out
To watch that light vanish forever

It was my choice
But yet I can’t bring myself to stop the pain
Never have I experienced something so excruciating
So exquisite that it drew out my very soul

It’s not that I cannot live without you
It’s that I do not want to

I thought the years
Would put some distance between us
But a hundred years would not
Could not
Change the love I have for you

Though I see not a blinking light
At the end of my pier
Your green light still remains
Taunting me

You’re there
But I cannot reach you
My love cannot reach you
Across the water
Across this electronic plane

You are my Daisy
My Daisy
Daisy…

Insecurity

She was all dressed
In silver and gold
The finery of nobility
Her manners were a lady’s
And she carried herself with class

She even had herself
Her very own Prince Charming
He was perfect kindness
Personified

But even Prince Charming was only human
And human are so easily fooled
And he couldn’t resist the lure of the witch’s magic
From the moment they met
She had transfixed him

Though he was not that kind of man
She was that kind of woman
Who didn’t care whose life she ruined

Without his knowledge
He hurt his lady
Abandoned her
Betrayed her love

And she kept thinking
“Was it something I did?”
“Was there something more I could have done to keep him by my side?”

And one day she saw him
Through a glass standing with the witch
Holding her close
It broke her heart

The tears came freely
But what surprised her was that the witch was crying too
She lifted her hand to her face
And the witch followed suit

She turned
And there he was
By her side
As he always had been

All these years
When she thought he had left her
For the witch

It was her
It had always been her

Year-end reflections

Another year has come and gone
When did time start to go so fast
Once upon a time a year was 365
Now in the blink of an eye
January 1 becomes December 31

Do you remember when you were a child
Wishing that you would grow up faster?
Do you remember that time was sweet and meandered?

We fill our lives with meaningless milestones
Graduation
Marriage
A career

What do these things mean?
How can these measure success?
Accomplishment?
Self-worth?

A life shouldn’t be measured by what you’ve accomplished
There will always be others who will surpass what you
A life should be measured by those you have touched
Your kindness
Your love
Those are the things you should strive to be remembered by

What good are your accomplishments if you’ve destroyed the lives of others to define your success?
Is that the legacy you wish to leave behind?
Would you rather be feared than loved?

Is this how you want to be remembered?

 

Location:  129, 6455 Macleod Trail SW
Website:  https://www.stateandmain.ca/

Today was a ridiculously busy day.  In the future, I would never recommend trying to hit up three bridal shops in one day.  Before we even finished our first shop, some of us were starting to feel hungry, so by the end of the second shop we, or at least I wanted to cannibalize some of the bridal party.

We stopped at one restaurant before this one, but it couldn’t accommodate a group of seven at that time.  Since we were ravenous, we looked for the next best alternative and since we were going to be stopping at Chinook to see if we could find some wedding stuff we thought State and Main would be the best option.

As it is the holiday season, parking at the mall was scarce, but we were lucky enough to find somewhere relatively close.  Since we didn’t want to be turned away from another restaurant, we had called ahead to see if there was space and they reserved a table for us of their own accord, which I thought was really nice.  The others in our party weren’t so luck in finding a parking spot, but they eventually all made it.

We were the first of our party to arrive since we had the good fortune of finding a parking spot.  We started with an appetizer, calamari, of course.  I love calamaris that have all the “extras.”  State and Main choose to serve theirs with a medley of jalapenos, onions & bell pepper with a roasted red pepper aioli.  This is one of the better calamaris I have had, but that may be because my opinion is influenced by the fact that the jalapenos, onions, and bell peppers helped to balance the greasiness that is characteristic of fried foods.  Compared to Boston Pizza, which has pretty much the same medley, State and Main is a little more refined.

The majority of the party ordered tacos, three ordered the Long Beach Fish Tacos with the Ginger Cilantro Slaw, and I ordered the Gogi Tacos with Fries and a dill dip.  As per my food ADD/ADHD, I love trying multiple things so Julia and I planned to swap a taco so we’d have the chance to give more than one menu item a try.  The fish tacos consisted of lightly spiced mahi mahi topped with avocado, shredded lettuce, tomato, green onion, chopped cilantro, fresh lime, and a salsa.  After eating many fish tacos, I have learned that I do not like mahi mahi.  There’s something about the taste of the fish that is off putting for me.  Besides that, this taco was rather ordinary.  It’s like every other taco you have ever had in your life.  A taco is unique only in its toppings and seasoning and these are the basic.  There was nothing special about the Long Beach Fish Tacos, but the Gogi Taco on the other hand was phenomenal.  My protein of choice has never been pork.  I’m not saying that I won’t eat it or that it can’t be prepared deliciously (ref: crispy suckling pig), but if there’s the choice of beef or chicken or sometimes even fish, I would choose them over pork.  The problem is it is usually overcooked which makes it dry and tough to eat and some places there’s either a freezer burn taste or a very strong porky taste.  You may think, what the heck, of course it tastes porky, it’s pork, but it’s not what you think.  It’s a very distinct unsavoury flavour that reminds me all too much of raw meat.  But the Gogi Tacos were nothing like that.  The meat was succulent and flavourful.  The Gogi Tacos consist of Korean inspired pork topped with ginger cilantro slaw & sriracha mayo on the side.  The sriracha mayo isn’t totally necessary, but it’s still nice to have a little for dipping since it provides a little bit of heat.  The ginger cilantro slaw, though there was very little of it (I mean, you can only fit so much into a taco), it packed a punch.  It provided the refreshing bright notes that the Long Beach Fish Tacos lacked.  Now I don’t normally rave about fries, but I think these fries were worth raving about.  They are the perfect thickness, balancing the satisfying crunch of the exterior with the smooth softness of the interior.  Paired with the dill dip elevates it to the next level.  It’s creamy, but not heavy because the dill provides that touch of zinginess to prevent it from being just another fatty mayo dip.

The others ordered a Burrito Bowl, California Chicken Wrap, and an Eggs Benedict.  I’m not sure how they liked it, but based on the fact that they finished it all, it was good.  The Burrito Bowl looked pretty big and was probably really filling.

Since we wanted to get on with shopping and save some money on the bill, we didn’t have dessert, so next time I’ll definitely have to come back for that.  Unfortunately it wasn’t possible to split the appetizer between everyone, so I ended up having to pay for the entirety of it, making my bill seem ridiculously expensive, but I guess if I took it off, it would seem pretty reasonable for a lunch.

The hostess and our server seemed a bit distant.  At the end, she didn’t even come to pay out our bills, she had another waitress come by with the machine and collect for her.  She nearly missed one of us, until we pointed it out to her.

I would certainly return for the food, but I’m not sure about the service.  I’m willing to give them another chance since it could’ve just been an off day for her, but based on my experience that day I’d have to say my rating would be 3/5, but I would recommend this place for the food for sure.

State and Main

State and Main Interior

Calamari

Calamari

Fish tacos

Long Beach Fish Tacos with Ginger Cilantro Slaw

Gogi tacos

Gogi Tacos with Fries and Dill Dip

Unloved

Gone are the days of adoration
Novelty grew old
And so did I

No longer do you look at me like someone special
Like I’m the only one in the world
Anymore

I’ve become your caregiver
A constant nag
Someone who you’ve become tired of
But a man such as yourself
An adult in essence
Should know the meaning of responsibility

When I’ve been strong for so long
When I’ve done everything out of love for you
Sometimes I just need you to take the inititive

Sometimes I don’t want to be the knight in shining armour
For once,
Let me be the damsel in distress

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