The Cactus Club promotes itself as a casual fine-dining restaurant that offers the best in global cuisine, using local fresh ingredients under the tutelage of Canada’s First Iron Chef, Bob Feenie.
You can imagine my surprise when I scoured their website for a gluten-free menu or even a nod to my dietary needs only to find a stern warning, “Cactus Restaurants are not gluten-free or vegetarian restaurants and can take no responsibility should cross-contamination occur between foods. This menu is offered to assist you with your dietary needs and concerns, but you must be aware that cross-contamination can occur and consider this information seriously.”
A business that espouses to “continually strive to deliver the best possible experience for you, our valued guests, and we welcome your feedback, perspectives and ideas,” deserves a second chance. I reached out under my official nom de plume to their feedback page, Facebook and Twitter to ask what they might offer gluten-free and celiac diners. NADA in more than four months.
So it was that I mustered up my celiac courage and headed to Cactus Club’s Victoria, BC location for dinner, on my way to seeing Brian Regan this past Saturday evening. Despite everything this restaurant failed to do to garner my patronage, I was very impressed.
A team of attendants – hostess, water-pourer, candle-lighter, drink-delivery person and server – assured me that they could more than meet my needs. I was provided with a ‘Gluten Smart’ menu with clear instructions on every nuance that I might need to consider from a shared deep fryer to pecans that might contain gluten. My gluten-free meal arrived, separately from everyone else at the table and I was at that point, completely at ease with what I was about to tuck into.
They say that we ‘eat with our eyes’ but celiacs eat with our brains. How could estimably one of the best franchises to effect a gluten-free experience do such a poor job of communicating ahead of time on line or through all available channels that yes, they know how to feed us and yes, they value our patronage?
I may be one celiac, but I brought three people with me in good faith that I could broker a gluten-free meal. Feeling well served but somehow undervalued in Gluten-Free Paradise. :/