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Vancouver, BC, and Western Canada Burger Club


Ling
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Might I suggest that at least one of the fortunate six drops by CC for an incognito version of the same burger as a reference point before the special night. ....just to see the difference between the burger made by a $10hr guy vs a six figure exec. chef bent on impressing.

Is seems that there has been a fair amount of up and down in the quality of the new burger since Jamie first waxed poetic about it and I wonder if they have managed to straighten things out a bit. This goes to the heart of the discussion about training and more training that is supposed to be the hallmark of CC, Earls etc.

Great minds think alike, Eatrustic. I've sampled the new burger several times over the last 6 weeks or so without revealing my identity. You're quite right - the quality has been up and down (never bad, but only once was it fantastic) and it will be very interesting to see what Chef Julian's version tastes like.

Always remember that you are unique. Just like everyone else.

www.leecarney.com

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Might I suggest that at least one of the fortunate six drops by CC for an incognito version of the same burger as a reference point before the special night. ....just to see the difference between the burger made by a $10hr guy vs a six figure exec. chef bent on impressing.

Is seems that there has been a fair amount of up and down in the quality of the new burger since Jamie first waxed poetic about it and I wonder if they have managed to straighten things out a bit. This goes to the heart of the discussion about training and more training that is supposed to be the hallmark of CC, Earls etc.

As I'm one of the lucky winners, I also will go test the burger before the 16th. Great idea!

"One chocolate truffle is more satisfying than a dozen artificially flavored dessert cakes." Darra Goldstein, Gastronomica Journal, Spring 2005 Edition

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  • 2 weeks later...
Might I suggest that at least one of the fortunate six drops by CC for an incognito version of the same burger as a reference point before the special night. ....just to see the difference between the burger made by a $10hr guy vs a six figure exec. chef bent on impressing.

Is seems that there has been a fair amount of up and down in the quality of the new burger since Jamie first waxed poetic about it and I wonder if they have managed to straighten things out a bit. This goes to the heart of the discussion about training and more training that is supposed to be the hallmark of CC, Earls etc.

As I'm one of the lucky winners, I also will go test the burger before the 16th. Great idea!

In order to satisfy my analyst background, I'm also visiting the CC incognito in order to gain a benchmark against the Thursday burger. :raz: Reports to follow.

Cheers,

T

"Great women are like fine wine...they only get better with age."
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As part of my commitment to science and a true evaluation of the CC burger, I visited the Broadway and Ash location last night with a friend who is not a foodie, but loves a good burger. To make it as scientific as possible, I didn't tell him about the purpose of our visit since I wanted us to both try the burger with an open-mind.

We both felt like having the JD barbecue burger. My impressions of the burger are that it is a fast food type of burger with a higher end price tag. The patty was fairly flat, overcooked and dry like you tend to get at fast food places, but then to offset the dryness, it was drenched in bbq sauce. The fries were so over salted that they actually sparkled in the low light of the restaurant (my friend thought the use of sea salt was nice though). Very crispy though once we scraped off the salt.

For an additional few dollars, I would rather go to Feenie's where they provide a large, moist, tasty (non-preformed) burger with lots of good quality condiments or save the bucks and go to a Wendy's type of joint if I feel like cheap, fast burgers. (The JD bbq burger was 9.50 with the other beef burger, bacon and cheese costing 10.25 compared to Feenie's 12 burger.) CC tries to straddle the two types of burgers with poor results.

It will be interesting to see what we are served on Thursday.

Cheers,

T

"Great women are like fine wine...they only get better with age."
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So has anyone backed out of the CC special burger club meeting yet? I am sitting on the taxi squad awaiting news.

It's not looking good, Brian. I'm sending PM's to everyone tonight to make sure they're all coming, but I haven't heard from anyone dropping out.

Sorry, dude.

Always remember that you are unique. Just like everyone else.

www.leecarney.com

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The lucky winners are:

Pez

Mooshmouse

Butter

Tarteausucre

Mamacat

ElizR

And I drew a 7th name in case someone has to back out at the last minute - that's BCinBC.

A reminder:

Thursday Feb 16th at 5:00pm

Cactus Club Cafe

575 West Broadway (at Ash)

Please don't be late.  If you are, we'll have to start without you as we have to be out of the kitchen before the dinner rush.

OK, kids, tomorrow's the big day. At the risk of repeating myself, don't be late, and don't even think about being a no-show. There was a ling waiting list of people who wanted to go but couldn't, so no-showing would be very bad form.

See you all there...bring your appetites!

Always remember that you are unique. Just like everyone else.

www.leecarney.com

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Last night a scaled-down version of the Burger Club visited the Cactus Club at the invitation of Executive Chef Julian Bond. What follows is my report - no doubt the others who were there will follow with their comments. Mooshmouse was our official event photographer and hopefully she will have a chance to post her photos soon.

Our host for the evening was Jeff, one the managers at this CC location. Jeff started the evening off by asking us what we usually drank with burgers. We all placed our orders, and then Jeff announced that we wouldn't be having that because tonight they wanted us to try things we wouldn't normally order. Fair enough.

Jeff brought out a selection of beers (Ugly and Udder Ale) for the girls who normally order cocktails, and a Pomtini for me. The pomtini was way too sweet for my liking, but it was followed by a cocktail called a Brazillian, which totally rocked. Fresh lime and fresh kiwi are crushed in the glass, then you add liquid cane sugar, some kind of brazillian rum and Sprite. It was tremendous. Great blend of tart and sweet, kinda like a kiwi (go figure...!). It'll make a great summer patio drink when consumed by the bucketfull.

As it turned out, the evening was about much more than burgers. The folks at Cactus Club took the opportunity to tour us through their complete menu, and started off by bringing us a selection of appetizers. We were served edamame, green beans flash-fried with garlic, onion, jalapeno (plus one other ingredient...anyone recall what it was?), a mango & shrimp salsa dish that they served with small little won-ton tacos (vry fresh tasting and interesting but the taco needed work), and the house special appetizer that I can't for life of me remember the name of! This is apparently the best selling item on Cactus Club's menu. They are simply chunks of chicken, breaded and deep fried, then lightly tossed with a sauce and served. According to Chef Julian, who came out and joined us when the appy's were ready, they sell $2 million worth of these things (presumably annually!), and every hostess is required to recommend them to you when you are first seated. We were also served a handroll made from sweet tofu with sushi rice and smoked salmon inside. This was the the best and msost interesting appy. Julian mentioned that they are working on a smoked tuna version of this - it will be terrifc, I'm sure.

Once we powered our way through the appetizers, we were off for a tour of the back-of-house. The planned schedule had us finished and on our way by 6:45pm but at 6:20 all 7 of us marched into the kitchen right in the middle of the dinner rush. 11 line cooks, 3 managers, and a dozen or so servers were all working flat out - it was pretty cool to see up close. Julian pointed out several interesting things about the way the kitchen is set up for maximum efficiency, right down to how the dishes are stacked in the dish pit to minimize the time the servers spend dropping them off. He also related an interesting tidbit about how the new plates they commissioned to serve the new burgers on are proving to be flawed - when stacked beside the dish pit, the lip on the underside chips the tops of the plae below it. They are breaking a plate a day, and at $24 a plate that's a big cost over the course of a year. They are getting the manufacturer to pin-fire them in the hopes of correcting the problem.

The cold storage area was fascinating. It's about the size of a small bathroom, albeit with 12 foot ceilings. It's probably 6' x 12', about as big as a good size pantry in a nicely equipped home kitchen. Not a lot of anything is kept there, as obviously they turn everything over pretty quick. The steaks and burgers are kept here (i.e. they are not frozen), and I was very surprised to see how large the uncooked burger patties are. The patties are 100% chuck (i.e. no beef filler, only meat) and come into the restaurant pre-formed and vacuum packed.

Off the back of the cold storage room is the freezer, which is WAY smaller than you'd think. IIRC, the only thing they keep in there is french fries and ice cream. Maybe 4' x 4' of freezer space.

Back out of the kitchen and down the stairs into the test kitchen. Julian's office is right there beside the island countertop and stoves, and the actual working part of the test kitchen is just like a real line kitchen only with fewer/smaller appliances. Julian talked about how much work goes into both creating a new dish and improving old ones. Every week one menu item is chosen for a intensive re-think, and everyone from Julian down to a few of the wait staff pick the item apart and brainstorm ways to make it better. This process which goes on continuously and helps ensure that everything on the menu is always improving. They also test equipment in the test kitchens, and at the moment they are looking at a bar-fridge sized hot and cold smoker ($399 at Cdn Tire and Julian says it rocks....home smoking enthusiasts take note) and capuccino machines.

A brief note about Julian: He's very young and completely manic. Picture Robin Williams with a british accent! His passion for food is plain for all to see, and the guy positively bounces off the walls. A very interesting guy and a lot of fun to spend time with.

Back upstairs for main courses: Pistachio-crusted sablefish over mashed potatoes and a thai curry sauce, BBQ Ribs with Jack Daniels sauce and thai (I think it was thai) Chicken Rice bowl. The fish was good - nice and fresh and well cooked. The ribs were mediocre, mainly due to being overly dry. They needed to use fattier ribs, IMHO (if you want low fat, don't order the freakin' ribs!). I liked the BBQ sauce, but those who prefer a sweet BBQ sauce would likely disagree. The rice bowl was....well, it was a rice bowl. Pretty hard to impress with a rice bowl. It would make a excellent lunch dish.

Finally, the burgers. I've been into this particular CC 10 times since they started serving this new burger. Twice, the burger was orgasmic. Once, it sucked. The other 7 times it was good but not great. Last night was visit number 11 (oh, the things I do in the name of culinary research!) and scored an 8th "good but not great". On the negative side, the bun and condiments overwhelm the patty, and the patty itself was cooked just past pink. The patty is 100% chuck (i.e. no butt, lips or feet) with little or no seasoning (which is just as I like it), but needs to be very juicy to give you maximum beef flavour. Still, there was a reasonable amount of beef flavour, just a bit more muted than the times I've had the burger with a slightly pink centre. On the positive side, the bun is very good. Once the restaurant figures out how to get bun warmers deployed, watch out. Extremely fresh condiments, a Goldilocks-sized (not-to-thick-and-not-to-thin) slice of cheddar and some tasty bacon make the toppings one of the highlights.

Overall, I'd give the burger a 6.5 out of 10. Cook it about a minute less, and it's a strong 7 or an 8.

One important thing to note is that Chef Julain did NOT cook for us. All the meals were prepared by the line cooks at the height of the dinner rush. That impressed me. Julian was buzzing around the kitchen and the chefs saw us getting the VIP tour so they likely knew to bring their A game, but CC was confident enough in their skills to let a high-profile group of diners be served just like everyone else in the restaurant. Julain acknowledged that one major issue for them is consistency (case in point was the chicken appetizer, which Julain pointed out was prepared incorrectly).

Desserts were next up and we were served a flourless molten chocolate cake, apple pie, and key lime pie. All were good and I particularly liked the molten chocolate cake - a strong chocolate flavor but not too sweet, plus a generous pour of raspberry puree. The two pies were served a la mode, and Julian feels that his ice cream is the best in the world. It's a very sweet vanilla, and while I probably wouldn't agree with his "best in the world" claim, it was excellent.

So there you have it. This is one seriously well run and well managed business. It's much more science than art, which is the inevitable by-product of how much volume they do. Everyone on the CC team are very serious about what they do, and it shows (in a good way) from the genuine happy-to-meet-us smile on the face of the corporate architect we ran into in the test kitchen to the slogan embroidered onto Julian's jacket ("Every Customer Leaves Happy").

There was much discussion around our table comparing the food we were tasting with other local restaurants. As with all things, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and some will prefer the burger from somewhere else or will think the ribs are a better value over there. But I think we forget that Cactus Club isn't trying to be Feenie's (or even Vera's or Fatburger for that matter). Feenie's is more art than science, and when viewed in that light, Cactus Club is a pretty impressive operation.

All in all, it was a fascinating evening. Many thanks to the folks at Cactus Club for their hospitality. Their openness and willingness to open the corporate kimino a little bit made for a very illuminating evening.

Always remember that you are unique. Just like everyone else.

www.leecarney.com

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Excellent report Lee!

I'm curious how those of you who attended felt about all the "extra" food. After all, you went in for a "Burger Club" and ended up with something completely different. Not that that's necessarily bad, but did the extras detract from the task at hand? Did you feel "used" ... because this was after all market research for CC?

A.

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Excellent report Lee!

I'm curious how those of you who attended felt about all the "extra" food.  After all, you went in for a "Burger Club" and ended up with something completely different.  Not that that's necessarily bad, but did the extras detract from the task at hand?  Did you feel "used" ... because this was after all market research for CC?

A.

It's hard to feel used when people are falling all over themselves ensuring that you are happy. (For example, I had to go and feed my parking meter just before the burgers arrived and Jeff, our host, first offered to have someone go and do that for me but when I declined that offer, was actually waiting for me by the little side door closest to our table to let me back in there so I wouldn't have to walk down the street to the main entrance. That's being made to feel that you are special!)

Far from the "extras" taking away from the burger experience, I quite enjoyed the opportunity to sample different menu items, particularly since this was my first ever visit to a CC. (I'm just a bit outside their target demographic....by about 30 years!!) Based on the items we sampled, I'd have to rank CC right up there for CFD. As Lee pointed out, it's not Feenies, but then it isn't trying to be. It was interesting to see the different reactions to the various items by the people in attendance. Some of us thought the ice cream was divine, others not so much...the same for most of the items we sampled. Taste is such an individual thing and I guess that's why many CFD places go for such extensive and varied menus. As Chef Julian explained, you want to have enough on the menu so that just about anyone can come in, look and the menu and find the EXACT thing that they are wanting at that particular moment. An ambitious goal, I think, but one that CC is trying very hard to meet.

For me, the highlights of the evening were the "back of house" tour (loved the test kitchen) and the chance to experience Chef Julian's unbounding enthusiasm for food and life in general. This guy should be hired by Tourism Vancouver or have his own TV cooking show...he would be an instant draw.

Many, many thanks to Lee for organizing this super evening; great job and great review too! Thanks also to CC for allowing us this inside look at their business.

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Did you feel "used" ... because this was after all market research for CC?

You mean like when Avis doesn't give me the Grand Am I booked, and instead asks me to test drive a Porsche? I hate that!

I know a man who gave up smoking, drinking, sex, and rich food. He was healthy right up to the day he killed himself. - Johnny Carson
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If anyone wants to abuse me with free food, they are more then welcome to do so!

I suppose we always have to be slightly cautious of restaurant "goodwill" since it indeed serves both a customer relations and market research purpose. However, Cactus Club was incredibly gracious and the free food didn't prevent us from being constructively critical of both the dishes that were served to us, and the restaurant itself.

I think the underlying branding message of the free food was that Cactus Club has moved beyond its original "burger and fries" roots. Bond himself acknowledged that Cactus Club serves a "good" burger but not necessarily the best burger in the entire world. And I think if we all judged the burger in isolation, we would tend to agree. I think the same can be said for each of the menu items if they were forced to stand on their own. Certainly, some of them were inspired, like the sablefish and the poke, but when a restaurant is seeking to please such a large and diverse demographic, I think it is the menu as a collective experience that becomes important.

Anyway, I suppose the extra food did lead us slightly astray from the original burger testing purpose but it did make me consider the evolution of a once burger joint. It is a fairly difficult feat to be able to serve sablefish, szechuan green beans, and burgers and fries on the same menu and be popular. I think most of us came out with a deeper respect for the work, innovation, and sheer energy of maintaining the type of success that Cactus Club enjoys. Other chains like Moxie's and White Spot that have tried to reinvent themselves have been much less successful.

End conclusion: Would I go there specifically for the burger. No. Would I go there on occasion, for a meal with little fuss, decent ambiance and food? Yes. And I guess that end result is what Cactus Club was aiming for when they invited us into their inner sanctum! Perhaps I have been "used" :)

"There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea."

~ Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady

Tara Lee

Literary and Culinary Rambles

http://literaryculinaryrambles.blogspot.com

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^ My take. They saw you guys as an amazing opprtunity! Think of it. A focus group comprised of foodies who really know their food and do not generally fall under the category of people who go to CFDs too often. If CC is trying to "break out of the mold" what an incredible way to start. They seem to have the science and efficiency down and the kitchen/staff run like a well oiled machine. So what's left but the food.

If they can execute well on this part of the equation they're going to turn some heads.

Kudos to them. The report really shows that they took every opportunity to learn something back from this opportunity. Imagine if they just sat you down and said "ok here are the burgers - enjoy". Bleh. It would be good but I'm sure the review wouldn't have been nearly as interesting.

Did they ban cameras since you're in their "test kitchen?" :biggrin:

Edited by fud (log)

"There are two things every chef needs in the kitchen: fish sauce and duck fat" - Tony Minichiello

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Did they ban cameras since you're in their "test kitchen?"  :biggrin:

No. But out of respect and a sense of propriety, I opted not to take any photos in the test kitchen proper. I do, however, have a nice shot of Chef Julian in the fridge. :rolleyes:

I currently have a cold and hay fever and feel like death warmed over. Will resurface with the photos soon, I hope.

Joie Alvaro Kent

"I like rice. Rice is great if you're hungry and want 2,000 of something." ~ Mitch Hedberg

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Did they ban cameras since you're in their "test kitchen?"  :biggrin:

No. But out of respect and a sense of propriety, I opted not to take any photos in the test kitchen proper.

I dunno ... seems like turnabout would be fair play in this situation. Translation: I would have taken the photos.

Back to the subject of the matter ... the burger. So far I'm sensing a "meh" vote?

A.

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A great night out for my first 2006 e-gullet outing. I'm sure Jeff and Chef Julian will be reading this so I would like to thank them for their hospitality. They went above and beyond what I expected.

I must say, at first, when Jeff explained what he did and called himself a "day leader", I couldn't get the thought of Wal-Mart or summer camp out of my head. I suppose there is a reason for this new terminology, but it just didn't seem to suit Jeff and I like the word manager better. I would be curious to know what they call their different levels of cooks...vegetable leader, starch leader, protein leader. :wink:

Anyway, they definitely have a very efficient system and improving on it constantly. I'm on the fence about whether or not this is a good thing. Business wise, it's makes complete sense, but it also scares me that the whole food industry will become too technical. CC is serving a lot of people who don't think about where their food comes from or how it is made. Chef Julian, however, often did say things like, "it still has real cream, real potatoes, and real butter in it" etc. so it showed me that it is important to him to still use fresh product. I'm straying off topic...

Re: the food. I think they have reached their market. The menu does what Chef J says, there is something for everyone. I could find something wrong with every dish we had (i.e. the salsa (or was it a fish tartare?) with deep-fried won tons needed more citrus; the chili sauce on the chicken was too sweet; the salmon and inari poke needed more avocado; the sablefish was over cooked), but I'm not their market. As for the burger, the size is decent and on first impression it looks like a delicious burger. Unfortunately, IMO, they need to work on the meat patty. The bun and condiments are really fresh, generous amounts, and good, so the meat needs to be better It's a decent thickness, but it really lacked flavour (I think most of us picked out a piece of meat to try it alone). I've tried this burger twice now and it won't get a third try. I would order the sablefish entree with mashed potatoes, making sure I ask the server to let the kitchen know to under cook it. This was probably the best dish of the night for me. To end re: food, all the desserts were too sweet for me and the ice-cream didn't have enough vanilla flavour. If I had to pick one, it would be the apple tart.

As this location is in my neighbourhood, I will visit again to try some of the other menu items as well as their drink concoctions (liked the Brazillian too) because I like the atmosphere, service, the bathrooms (they are getting TV screens), Jeff, and Chef Julian. As Earl's is their competitor, I have to say, not considering the food (I haven't eaten enough of it to be able to compare), I prefer the atmosphere at Cactus Club. (This is comparing the Ash CC location with the Earl's on Broadway and at Paramount as these are the only locations I've been to). Joie mentioned that Earl's makes a pretty good burger so I'll try that next.

The highlight for me was meeting Chef Julian. He has amazing energy and passion. I hope he reads this so he knows that he gave me a much needed boost. I'm sure he has unknowlingly inspired many cooks.

"One chocolate truffle is more satisfying than a dozen artificially flavored dessert cakes." Darra Goldstein, Gastronomica Journal, Spring 2005 Edition

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I just wanted to throw in my thanks to Lee for organizing a great evening and Julian and Jeff for being gracious hosts. From start to finish, we were there for more than three hours making it a very entertaining evening.

I think everyone else covered off the evening in great detail, so I'll just add my two cents. I think the overall opinion is that the target demographic is really the person who probably grew up on fairly mainstream fare and wants to have more interesting food, but not too interesting. That translates into food being sweeter, less spicy, stronger flavours toned down from the original version - in many cases asian as they seem to be mixing more mainstream fare (like ribs) with asian-influenced cuisine. A case in point would be the green beans - for the more seasoned diner, we have either had something similar at a Szechuan restaurant or cooked it at home with garlic, onions, dried little shrimp, chilies, etc. The CC version would be what I consider to be Szechuan green beans "lite" - garlic and onions, but none of the more flavorful authentic additions.

As for the burger, this time it was less dry (than on my anonymous visit), but the patty seemed not beefy enough (I can't explain it any other way). The burger and condiments were fine, but you really couldn't taste the beef and I like that big beefy flavor in my burger. We did reference Feenie in our discussion and while they aren't trying to be Feenies, when you are looking at $10ish at CC for a blander, smaller burger and $12ish at Feenies for a big, juicy burger, I don't see much of a difference in price points, just quality.

As with most of the group, I also liked the sablefish dish, but I believe it was in the mid $20 range which I honestly can't see myself paying at CC. Having said that, they have managed to change my mind about CC - I had only visited twice prior to the Burger Club visit (and one of those times was for "research"). I could definitely see myself on their patio on a hot summer day drinking those brazilian alcoholic kiwi drinks and munching on a couple of appies. :raz:

I think my biggest surprise was the extent that they do want to use good quality ingredients, e.g. real key limes for their key lime pie (not frozen or bottled), etc. I guess my only suggestion is that, if they are prepared to do the research and spend the money on high quality ingredients, to trust the ingredients to stand on their own and not bland them down. I would have loved to have had a nicely balanced tart/sweet key lime pie (you know the kind where you can feel that tingle in the back of your mouth), but they so overwhelmed the lime with sugar, it just ended up being very sweet.

Again, thanks to everyone for a great evening. I always look forward to talking serious food with new friends and I had a great time. Also, again thanks to Julian for giving us interesting insights into different techniques and a peek at his amazing test kitchen.

I look forward to our next burger meet.

Cheers,

T

"Great women are like fine wine...they only get better with age."
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Firstly, I'd like to thank Chef Julian and Jeff for the hospitality on Thursday evening: their generosity was much appreciated, and Julian's natural exuberance and passion for his job shone throughout the evening. Thank you also to Lee for your efforts in arranging the evening.

I had previously visited CC only once, not at that location, and left distinctly underwhelmed. Not so this time. The seriousness with which the management conduct their operation was an eye-opener, as was the impression that staying at the top of the game was their prime motivator. I was gratified to leave thinking that the deliverance of a quality product remained the #1 consideration, rather than just the bottom line (crucial though that is).

The tour of the back of the house was my definite favourite, and the fact that the freezer was no bigger than the average apartment closet (and not the walk-in type) was a big surprise. That, and the rest of the tour, confirmed their fast turnover of product and the freshness of the food.

The food has pretty much been covered in previous comments, but I'd like to add that the beers, especially the Ugly Ale(with lemon) - were very good. I'd give the burger a 7 out of 10 - perfectly serviceable and decent value, but not a knockout.

Desserts were well appreciated by those of us with a sweet tooth, and all tasted fresh. Yes, the ice cream is excellent - at least for us sweetie fanciers! :raz:

The burgers did end up being a bit of a sideshow, but I did not feel "used".

We probably were not their target market, but looking around the restaurant during the evening it seemed as if CC attracts a wide clientele. It is no mean feat to offer "something for everyone" given the diversity of the population in the lower mainland.

The overall impression was of a highly tuned and efficient operation which is centred on constant self-reflection and improvement. It is set up for maximum productivity without sacrificing its essence. This is a seriously well-executed business that deserves its success.

Would I be more inclined to visit a CC again? Most definitely - but out of admiration for the business itself rather than the food.

Elizabeth

"The only time to eat diet food is while you're waiting for the steak to cook".

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:unsure: Just to add to my post, I realized that I was incredibly remiss in not thanking Lee for organizing what turned out to be an absolutely fabulous evening. I really do appreciate all the effort and work you put into making the event a reality.

Also, thanks to Jeff, Chef Julian, and all the people at Cactus Club for their gracious hospitality and willingness to put up with the egullet foodie "weirdos" for the night! We all had a great time and felt really privileged to have been given the chance to see the inner workings of your restaurant and to sample both new and regular menu items.

Til next time!

Edited by tarteausucre (log)

"There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea."

~ Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady

Tara Lee

Literary and Culinary Rambles

http://literaryculinaryrambles.blogspot.com

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So when is the next burger trip going to take place. I would like to join your numbers one of these days although I realize I am brand new to Egullet and probably much older then alot of you judging by your pictures. Probably not as knowledgable either. Ling seems such an expert at every type of food from reading her many emails. One area I have never seemed to master is pastry though years ago before I went into social work, I actually worked as a cook and had to make pastry. I cannot remember my early efforts. They must have succeeded but I now I think I am too scared of pastry. However, that is another forum. Ling seems to be the expert at pastry and cakes....have been looking at her pictures of cakes and pastry and wowed. :cool:

I did try an Angus burger at the Burger King. Before you all snort in disgust. I had not eaten all day and I had left the gym and I figured well , its flame broiled at least and not lying on a greasy oil slicked grill. They have been tooting this Angus burger as real steak. It really was not bad and quite juicy if you need a quick fix as fast food but only in emergency situations.

I have been quite disappointed in how White Spot hamburgers have gone down hill. Their burgers are becoming so miniscule that you almost cannot see the meat.

Anyway, would like to take part in your scientific study of the Art of finding the excellent burger if the numbers permit. I do have to come into town so of course location is a consideration. :wink:

S.

Never met a vegetable I never liked except well okra!
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I apologize ahead of time for the spelling/grammar

With respect, I disagree with thoughbox's statement on two fronts: first,  Cactus Club restaurants are not franchised;

I have to agree with you, sort of. You are correct, Cactus Club is not a franchise. But when I was typing out my distaste for everything that is Cactus Club, I wasn't so much pondering the meaning of "franchise" or "chain", but I was so much pondering, on how boring, and produced, and repeated thier collection of Restaurants is. The point remains the same, they are all governed by the same set of rules. The restaurants are copies of eachother, used to sell you something repeatable, and dependable, and sort-of good tasting. Brought to you by, a cute girl, with a fake smile, and a 22yr old manager, who for some reason needs to wear a tie? Oh by the way, did you know they have a correct way to put the coaster? So it says Catus Club, under your drink. Cause the other side, doesn't say Cactus Club. Am I the only one afraid here? ;-), jks.

I'm must apologize, I'm kinda a little jaded, when a buddy of mine who was managing at a CC, was told by his "superiors" to have a "sit down" with one of the waitresses, cause all her pens................... "were not black, bics!"............. hum............ let me see, one pack of 12 bics, for the low low price of 1.99 at london drugs = 0.165833333333333333333333333333333333 dollars per pen. So if I go through 4 pens a week, my total pen cost for one year of employment at CC = 4*52*0.165833333333333333333333333333333333= $34.4933333333333333333333333333333333. Now that sounds like a real cactus club experience, to the 34th decimal point. Something tells me nobody is impressed. The fact that they measure something so insignificant to me, is total foolishness. 4 decimal places, that is 10,000ths. Ok, lets say there are 10 ingredients used per burger. If we were rounding to the 3rd decimal place, our maximum error would be 0.0005 dollars times 10 ingredients would = 0.005 dollars. Sor the Cactus Club would have to sell 200 burgers to make a single dollars difference. How many burgers does a Cactus Club sell in a month, 10000(I doubt anywhere near this, probably more like 2000), to make a difference of $50, or more like $10, and that is only MAXIMUM error, odds are it will be usually close to zero, and over a long period of time it will even out.. They are probably spending more on worring about it than it is worth. To me it is a shame, I want my food, a little different each time, I work with decimals all the time, when I go to eat the last thing I wanna think about, or even know, is that my burger was made to the 4th decimal. To me it makes the whole experience fake. its not cooking, its accounting. Its bad leather jackets and those terrible Ikea lamps that line the garbage bins in the alley behind my apartment. Its trying so hard to be something that it is not.

Does the Cactus Club make money:Yeah

Do tonnes of people love the Cactus Club :Sure, I can't imagine why, but sure.

Does anybody else think the way I do: Probably not, I'll conceed that. :-0). Who am I kidding, nobody does. I don't think, anyway. (-:

Would it be a good move for Cactus Club to shut thier doors right now? From a business stand point, no ofcourse not. From a humanity standpoint, yeah I think they should. What can I say, it just ain't my thing, and I really feel it is a detriment to the Vancouver dining experience.

and second, criticizing something you have not evaluated does not make for a qualified opinion.

Again, I must agree, sort of. Had I not tried the burger. Yes that is true. But I have tried the Cactus Club, many times. You know the sensation, gotta go someplace to eat, don't really wanna spend that much money, just looking for some filler, and hopefully a hot waitress. Trust me I know. But now I'm beyond that, I don't fall for the "crappy food, vieled behind a cute waitress" gimick any more. Its like a cheap fake leather jacket, its black, it looks like leather, it keeps the rain off, kinda, but come on, it ain't leather. But anyways, I was simply suggesting that instead of rushing off to the Catcus Club to try thier new burger, I wanted to wait it out a bit, and see if the burger could pick up a few more accolades, before the club paid a visit. Nobody listened, but that is ok, it was only an opinion. :-)

With that said, I had, since putting up my original message, gone and tried the burger out. That is when I learned about how they require one side of the coaster to show, not the other. But anyway, I tried to open my mind, I said to myself, "this burger is gonna be good. Give it an honest opportunity. Don't hate it before you try it." Well I had that burger, I even cut it down the middle(I like doing that). I ate it, and I thought, ok, chew....chew...chew, ok. I ate the whole thing. All the while not letting my mind form an opinion on this little critter. A few days later, ordered one to go, trying to avoid the repeat experience at a table. Get the burger, ate half, and gave up. I tried to like it, I really did, but once again, the Cactus Club was able to serve me the exact same thing that I have always.recieved.there.terrible.food.and.a.terrible.experience. I figure that is "always" to the 8th decimal(it works a little different for words, ;-D).

Does the Cactus Club feed a hungry market need. Yes it does. And it does it well. But as far as the burger goes, it ain't even worth the brown paper bag(which by the way, are specifically designed to look like shopping bags) they are gonna be putting it in. It just ain't my thing.

P.S. don't take anything I say too seriously, really I'm just a burger eater, who loves his burgers.

Authenticity is all that matters.

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I think the thing that thoughtbox finds most annoying is the core competancies of the cc model.

thoughtbox, you are or have been in restaurant business, you clearly understand numbers, I think the reason cc does this with the burger pricing is because it is a standard throughout their menu.

you know this is a nickel and dime business ( actually more like pennies and nickels), if you took the margin or error across their menu and calcuated the same mistakes it would make a significant difference.

The other thing that you are not looking at when it comes to menu engineering produce price fluctuation kills menu items. I will tell you, there is not a restauranteur around that doesn't cringe at the every caesar salad going out in dec, jan , feb, when lettuce can get upto 80.00 a case, from a norm of 18-24. Tomatoes? all i can tell you is please don't order extra on your burger in the winter, again the price moves into the 50's.

my point being, the very thing that cactus clubs of the world do, is what you don't appreciate (maybe appreciate is the wrong word). Lastly, it may seem lackng soul, but soul can be inconsistent, and inconsistent kills restaurants like cc.

edited to ad the following

PS i think at heart, most of us are just burger eaters

Edited by gerald (log)

Gerald Tritt,

Co-Owner

Vera's Burger Shack

My Webpage

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Gerald, you are absolutely correct. CC guys could read my post, and take it as a compliment. They are achieving exactly what they are attempting to achieve. Measured against thier goals, thier success is unmatched in the market place.

I don't like thier goal, independant of the final product. Like I said, it just ain't my thing. The burger is just another piece of the pie, that is the Cactus Club, I don't like the piece, and I don't like the pie. But hey, I am sure tonnes of other people love it. :-)

Authenticity is all that matters.

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I have been quite disappointed in how White Spot hamburgers have gone down hill. Their burgers are becoming so miniscule that you almost cannot see the meat.

Curious, does anyone know how they cook them/prep them for serving? They seem uniformly crispy around the circumference, as if they've been deep-fried? If grilled, would the center edge (the widest part) be that well done?

.....just wondering :unsure:

Edited because of at least one horrid spelling mistake......... :rolleyes:

Edited by ~cayenne~ (log)

"If cookin' with tabasco makes me white trash, I don't wanna be recycled."

courtesy of jsolomon

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