1527 Cariboo Hwy 97 South
Williams Lake, BC V2G 2W3
M-Sa: 11a – 10p / Sun: 10a – 9p
Sunday Brunch: 10a – 2p
October 21, 2011
After months of being asked if I had tried “that new restaurant” out yet, Mr O and I finally found ourselves seated at CJ’s Southwestern Grill for dinner one night last week. Upon entering, we noticed that the interior didn’t seem to have changed much from the Big Mama days; still retaining the same furnishings and hockey memorabilia. We were seated in the lower level right next to the big screen projector, which actually had Mr O entranced for a moment because he had been without TV for so long, being out in Bella Coola without cable.
Their menu included a selection of items from appetizers, rice dishes, salads, meats and southwestern entrees. As well, they also have a temporary menu that details their specials for the month. The first thing I noticed right away from that menu was that they have fresh oysters for two dollars a shell! I ask you… when do you ever see raw oysters in Williams Lake? Needless to say, I was extremely excited for all of a second before reality came crashing down when Mr O reminded me that I was not supposed to eat raw food for the next year – a quote right out of my doctor’s mouth. Sheesh… what a downer.
So instead of luscious oysters, I settled for their Veggie Flatbread appetizer, which was an elongated grilled pita topped with roasted peppers, onions, fresh spinach, basil, a smoky tomato sauce and crumbled goat cheese. To follow I decided to get the half rack of the baby back ribs dinner and Mr O ordered the Memphis Chicken sandwich.
The toppings on the flatbread were really fresh and you can taste the flavour of each ingredient individually. When I had ordered it, I had envisioned the goat cheese to be slightly melty, but there were sprinkled on raw and so that particular flavour was too strong for me. On the other hand, Mr O, who is a goat cheese fanatic, loved it and took the white pickings off my plate with no hesitation whatsoever.
You can choose to get your ribs smothered in your choice of Texas, Southern or Guinness barbeque sauce. I chose to coat mine in the Texas sauce, which is supposed to be on the sweet side, and I decided on the potato croquette as my starch. With it came a serving of roasted root vegetables like parsnips, carrots and beets.
Although the meat on the ribs were fall-of-the-bone tender, there was, unfortunately, very little flavour to them. I also found the sauce to be on the bland side as well, and had me wishing for something a little more intense and tangier. Perhaps next time I will try the stronger Guinness sauce. The veggies were also tender and the croquette was simply amazing. It’s nicely seasoned mashed potatoes that is shaped into an oval, stuffed with a bit of cheese and covered in a nice crumb coating before it’s deep-fried into crispy perfection. Like I said, it was very delicious.
Mr O decided to have his meal come with fries, which was also nice and crispy, but he was definitely giving my croquette the envy eye. A grilled chicken breast was the main star of his sandwich, alongside with fried maple-pepper bacon, Havarti cheese, guacamole, roasted peppers, lettuce and tomatoes. It was an overall good sandwich, served on ciabatta bread, but he detected something slightly spicy in his sandwich which nearly overwhelmed the other flavours. A thicker layer of guacamole probably would’ve evened out that balance, as the avocado did cool his mouth down a bit.
As for the ambience, it was a casual and very comfortable place to unwind and relax to a meal. The service that night was very attentive to our needs; not once did we have to ask for drink refills and our food was quick to appear. Despite our taste buds’ preferences of differing flavours, we had a really enjoyable time at CJ’s and would to come back to try their Prime Rib buffet dinner, which was also available at that time. And believe me; as soon as that year is up, I’m coming back for those raw oysters on the half shell.