Williams Lake


1527 Cariboo Hwy 97 South
Williams Lake, BC  V2G 2W3

250-392-4225

M-Sa: 11a – 10p / Sun: 10a – 9p
Sunday Brunch: 10a – 2p

CJ's Southwestern Grill on Urbanspoon

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.

...veggie flatbread...

...lotsa goat cheese!...

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.

...the meat...

...and the potatoes...

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.

...Memphis Chicken...

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.

23A First Avenue South
Williams Lake, BC  V2G 1M4

250-398-7170

M-Sa: 11a – 8p/ Su: closed

Trattoria Pasta Shoppe on Urbanspoon

July 26th, 2011

As it turns out, Mr O had never been to Trattoria’s before… and it’s been over a year since I last ate here… so of course you can guess where we had dinner tonight.  It’s a seat-yourself establishment and menus await you at each place setting.  The interior is cozy and rustic with well-worn hardwood floors and framed pictures scenic Italy.  Dominating the space behind the counter was a chalkboard listing the many choices of Italian soda that’s available, and the mismatched chairs lends a hand in creating an inviting homely environment, akin to eating at your auntie’s home.

Pasta is the obvious star of tonight’s menu, but there’s a variety of salads to choose from if you happen to have a lighter appetite.  Mr O was intrigued by today’s special, which was linguini with a spicy Italian sausage, and I ordered the Tortellini Pesto.  For starters we decided to try the bruschetta.

My knowledge of Italian cuisine is admittedly not the greatest because I don’t often find myself eating Italian food.  This was my first time trying bruschetta, which is something I’m only familiar with all thanks to the Food Network.  Conferring with Mr Wiki, bruschetta can be referred to either the bread itself, according to hard core Italians, or the topping, according to our Americanized (er… Canadianized?) culture.  The baguette rounds our appetizer came with were neither toasted, nor rubbed with garlic or any seasonings, so the leading role here is played by the topping… which was amazing.  Imagine fresh tomatoes, garlic and basil all chopped up and macerated together in a magical harmony by good olive oil and fresh parmesan.  It’s refreshing and full of wonderful subtle flavours, which was not at all what I expected since there’s garlic and parm at play here.  Only five baguette rounds came with the starter though, so I graciously gave away the odd one out to Mr O.

...bruschetta for two...

When his dinner-sized meal arrived at the table, I had to halt him for a moment before he was able to dive right into the pasta.  It was full of mushroom, bell peppers, spring onions, and fresh tomatoes, stirred into a pesto cream sauce.  The slices of spicy Italian sausage were well distributed, and the noodles were a perfect al dente texture.  Pesto is absolutely delicious and it coats the noodles beautifully.  It lends a nice basil taste and compliments the kick you get out of the spicy sausage.

...pesto ala linguini...

I decided to get only the lunch-sized version of the Tortellini Pesto tonight because I was adamant that I’d have room left for dessert.  And thank goodness I did because I ended up having to pack some of it away in a to-go box.  Not from lack of trying mind you, as the dish was delicious.  It had the same pesto cream sauce and it coats cheese-filled bite-sized tortellini.  Mushrooms and bits of bacon give it a different taste profile from Mr O’s dinner and whole pine nuts garnished the entire thing.

...pesto ala tortellini...

But like I said, I was insistent that there’d be dessert and I’m pretty sure I read somewhere that the desserts were all homemade.  Up for offer are whipped cheesecake, tiramisu, and afternoon delight, which sounded like a chocolate-y layered dessert.  I’m all about the tiramisu (it’s practically the only thing Italian that I yearn for) and Mr O didn’t even need to think twice about the cheesecake.

And what a cheesecake!  It was ultra-smooth, fluffy, and melt-in-your-mouth good.  You get a choice out of three fruity toppings and ours came with strawberries.  My tiramisu was equally good although the lady fingers had soaked up more of the coffee than I would’ve preferred.  Still, that didn’t stop me from plowing through the velvety layers of mascarpone and moist sponge cake.  However I still managed to maintain the decorum of a proper lady and didn’t try to lick the bits of chocolate off of my plate.  Momma would be so proud.

...cheesy cake...

...tiramisu heaven...

177 Yorston Street
Williams Lake, BC  V2G 1G6

250-398-8727

July 5, 2011

Earlier in the week I had dinner with Mr O and some of his co-workers at Joey’s Grill.  I must admit that it’s been ages since I last ate here so I was looking forward to reacquainting myself with the place.

Despite the out-dated interior, Joey had a very homey comfortable feel to it.  Its menu is pretty extensive and has just about a little bit of everything to suit your tastes.  There is an array of appies, steak, chicken, pasta and various ethnic inspired dishes (some souvlaki to go with your schnitzel perhaps?)

With a menu this varied, it usually takes me awhile to reach a decision.  When I finally did it was to order one of their specials from the insert… the Guinness Barbeque Ribs with a baked potato.  Mr O opted to go with the Seafood Cannelloni.  Both meals came with your choice of soup or salad.  Today’s soup was potato based, and I figured that I didn’t want to overdose on starch so I ordered the garden salad like a good grown-up should, and so did Mr O.

The starter salads came out pretty quickly.  And while the produce was fresh, the salad itself was pretty unremarkable.  It was made up of primarily iceberg lettuce, with a frugal addition of red cabbage, sliced radishes, chopped carrots, celery, three slices of cucumber and a wedge of tomato.  I was pretty proud of myself for eating it though, especially since I knew my meal to follow up with is pretty much a meat-fest, and I’m all about eating a well-balanced meal… no, really!

...salad... meh...

Welcoming the main meal was a bit trickier.  Since there were quite a few people at our party, it was unsurprising that there was some confusion over who ordered what.  After a few moments of musical plates and pass-the-dish I was presented with a large arrangement of ribs.  Oh yeah baby, come to me!  It’s a full rack of meaty baby back ribs smothered in the Guinness barbecue sauce, a large baked potato, a serving of garlic toast and good portion of steamed veggies.  The ribs were fall-of-the-bone tender and had a very generous meat-to-bone ratio (had I mentioned they were meaty?)  The sauce was a vinegar based barbecue that was full of flavour and packed a pretty strong punch near the end.  It was very tangy and zippy and finger lickin’ good.  Yeah, I know there’s a finger bowl for me to use, but what’s a few more extra calories at this point right?

...ribs make me go grrr...

...so juicy... so tender...

The potato comes plain and you get to dress it yourself with butter, sour cream, onions and bacon bits.  It’s so simple but I loved it… never having had a baked potato growing up I think it’s just about the greatest thing ever and, as an adult, order it whenever I get the chance!  So potato and ribs aside, the steamed veggies were just okay and definitely not the highlight of the meal.  Yet again, it was pretty fresh and composed mostly of onions and squash.  But there were also pieces of broccoli, carrots and cauliflower.

...friends for the potato...

Mr O’s cannelloni was pasta filled with a crab and shrimp mixture, spinach and cheeses, then covered with a marinara and parmesan sauce and baked to piping hot perfection.  Amidst all the blowing to cool the cheeses down, the flavours of shrimp and garlic and cheese is a real pleasure for the tastebuds.  It was an incredibly rich dish and ooey-gooey good.  Yes, Mr O would definitely order it again.

...cannelloni fun...

All the meals came in generous portions.  I was only able to finish half a rack of my ribs, and Mr O probably had close to a third of his meal left in his dish.  We didn’t even glance at the dessert menu… what would be the point?  There was no way we could’ve eaten another bite of anything!  But definitely next time you can count us in for something sweet.

86 Third Ave N
Williams Lake, BC  V2G 2A2

250-398-2006

Kara Mia's Donairs on Urbanspoon

June 1, 2011

The puck dropped earlier today for game 1 of the final series between the Canucks and the Bruins and I was in a hurry to get home.  Karamia’s Donairs was close enough to where I work so I dropped in there to grab some dinner to go.

Karamia’s had recently relocated to its current location on 3rd Avenue and is known for its Nova Scotian style donairs.  What’s a Nova Scotian donair you ask?  It’s pretty similar to the Middle Eastern variation, but with a unique sauce that’s made up of evaporated milk, sugar, garlic, and vinegar.  Personally, I find this sauce terribly addictive but be warned: the garlic likes to linger so always make sure there’s gum for afterwards.

The menu lists a pretty good variety of donairs, ranging from the simplistic Plain Jane, which includes your choice of meat (beef, lamb or chicken) and sauce, to the healthy Fully Loaded, which is pretty packed with all sorts of ingredients, and in between there’s about a half dozen other types of donairs to choose from.  But if the wraps aren’t your cup of tea, they also have soups, sandwiches, and pita pizzas to offer.

Tonight I ordered the Maritimer with beef, which comes with onions, tomatoes and the sweet sauce.  I asked to swap the onions for lettuce though because having garlic breath is one thing… but garlic and onion breath co-mingling together might be more than what Mr O is willing to put up with.

...maritimer... please 'cuse the crap-tastic focus...

Mr O had a more elaborate donair to eat.  I ordered the Greek for him, which included beef, onions, olives, cucumber, tomatoes, feta cheese, and tzatziki sauce.  And he pretty much devoured it as soon as I had taken a picture of his dinner.  It’s a good thing I was quick with the camera!

...greek wrap... please 'cuse the crap-tastic focus...

Now there’s a trick to eating a donair.  You’ve gotta unwrap the foil as you eat, ripping off only a few inches of foil at a time!  Trust me, everything stays sooo much cleaner this way… you try to eat a donair without its protective wrapper and you’re pretty much asking for food all over the front of your shirt.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

It was delicious, like always.  However, tonight we thought that the beef was on the dry side.  This might’ve been due to the fact that it was pretty late in the day when I had picked these up.  Normally when you walk in you’re greeted to the sight of three vertical rotisseries packed with spiced meats, happily grilling away.  During the day the meat is sliced away as it’s needed, and it’s actually pretty cool to watch them rotate as you’re waiting for your food.  But tonight everything had been cleaned up and packed away, and pre-sliced meat was brought out of a container.  Oh well, I never was very good at being the early bird.

At this point, I feel like I have to mention something about the customer service here.  Now, I’ve been a fan of Karamia’s since day one when it was located at its original location on Midnight.  I’ve been there several times and had always enjoyed the food they make.  So it is with this in mind that I have to say that the customer service can be iffy at times.  Depending on who is working behind the counter I’ve had anywhere from really awesome service to some just-okay service.  But it’s a minor thing that I’ve learned to shrug off because the food is really worth it.  And really, food should always be the main attraction of any restaurant.

3015 MacKenzie Ave N
Williams Lake, BC  V2G 1P5

250-398-6633

Sir Bob's Fish & Chips on Urbanspoon

May 18, 2011

Welcome back to our regularly programmed schedule!  My date tonight is Mr O and tonight he drove me over to the Sir Bob’s Fish and Chips restaurant.  We don’t often visit this part of town, so this was actually my first time eating here.

There was a crowd of regulars already seated when we arrived, and we noticed a pretty steady stream of people coming in for their pick-up orders.  Checking out the menu, there was quite the list of seafood to choose from, in all sorts of various combinations.  Burgers, chicken fingers and salads were also available for those who are more into the turf, rather than the surf.

I went with the shrimp dinner with onion rings, and Mr O ordered the 3 piece battered cod dinner.  We also decided to get the calamari appetizer to start the meal off with.  As we waited for our food, we played with the full size bottles of tartar and cocktail sauce that came to our table and listened to the sounds of the deep fryer going off every so often.  Everything deep-fried tastes good so we were quite excited.

There was some disappointment when our calamari arrived, however.  It was pretty obvious that the squid came out of the frozen section.  There’s not much I can say about it really…  the only thing worth remarking is that it was accompanied by an aioli that was tart with what tasted like pepperoncini that was just fabulous.

...calamari... I think...

Our main entrees arrived shortly after that and we had to wait a bit before digging in because everything was so piping hot, literally straight out of the fryer.  The cod had a really light layer of batter around it, which is how I actually prefer my fried fish, so that it didn’t overwhelm the taste of the fish.  Unfortunately, the fish itself had a watery texture that suggested it also came straight out of a freezer.  But the shrimp was very nice with its breaded coating instead of the batter that I had been expecting.  There appeared to be cornmeal in the breading which gave it a pleasant sweet and nutty crunch, and the shrimp itself was done just right and not overcooked at all.

...battered fish and chips...

...ready for my close-up...

...fried shrimp...

As for the onion rings, they also came out of a bag.  But the fries were home-cut style and I had wished I had ordered those instead as I began to eat them off of Mr O’s plate, to his immense displeasure.  And the coleslaw was fantastic; tangy, fresh and lightly dressed.  In fact, I might just order that as my sole side-dish next time.

As our meal came to an end, we realised too late that we hadn’t left any room for dessert… but there are pies, cakes and ice cream to choose from for those who are better at pacing themselves.  Overall?  You can’t compare this to the fish and chip stands down by the coast… you just can’t; it wouldn’t be fair.  Unfortunately, I found that there was too much reliance on frozen pre-prepped food here.  I understand that there might be a lack of fresh supply of seafood up in the Cariboo, but frozen onion rings?  C’mon.

55 Sixth Avenue
Williams Lake, BC  V2G 1K8

250-392-2111

Fanny's Restaurant on Urbanspoon

March 5, 2011

If there is one thing I’ve learned about the culinary environment of Williams Lake it’s that there is no shortage of Chinese food restaurants.  And every one of them has both their groups of loyal patrons and those who condemn it for whatever the reason.  Hence, there is no way I can please everyone by writing about a Chinese restaurant… And yet I found myself at Fanny’s, the newest kid in town.

Typically, I try to take part in a buffet when I frequent a Chinese restaurant simply because Mr O and I have different tastes in food.  However, Fanny’s only have a buffet available for dinner on Friday evenings, as well as Thursday nights beginning this week.  So last Friday while in search of dinner we did a drive-by and we saw that this place was just hopping, so we decided to come back on a regular dining night instead.

The first couple of pages of the menu were dominated with “Western” style dishes, such as sandwiches, steaks, and other entrees, which reminded me of the fact that this place wasn’t only just about the Chinese food.  The selection was pretty impressive, and the prices were extremely reasonable, so I figured it would be a great place to eat for those that aren’t fond of more ethnic tastes.  As well, at the back of the menu there is a selection of Japanese dishes.  We decided to order just from the Chinese menu today and settled on 3 different dishes: Cantonese chow-mein, honey garlic ribs, and beef and broccoli.

The beef and broccoli arrived first and it looked good.  It’s a pretty basic dish to make and the way Fanny’s prepared it was very comparable to Momma’s.  The broccoli was fresh and a vibrant green, the carrots crisp and orange, and the beef was tender to bite.  Simplicity at its best!  Next to arrive was the honey garlic ribs, which were pork button ribs coated in a nice sweet sticky glaze.  They probably could’ve gone heavier on the garlic, in my opinion, but I suppose Mr O was thankful for that.

...beef and greens...

...honey and garlic together forever...

The Cantonese chow-mein was the last to make an appearance at our table, and surprisingly… it took me on an un-expected trip down memory lane.  This is very similar to another dish that I remember eating when I was younger.  It’s reminiscent of something you would find in a Hong Kong-style eatery and is probably the most authentic chow-mein that I’ve come across since moving up to the Cariboo.  It had a medley of meats and veggies… generously cut bite sized pieces of carrots, bok choy, celery, broccoli, and cauliflower.  And may I just say hallelujah… no bean sprouts!

The meats found on this chow-mein included chicken, beef, shrimp, and barbeque pork.  This was real meat… not the scattering of cold cuts that I have grown accustomed to when eating chow-mein out here.  The barbeque pork was what really impressed me though.  These red coloured coins of pork is better known within the Chinese community as “chasiu” and you just don’t find this kind of stuff in Williams Lake.  It’s a piece of boneless pork that’s been marinated with honey, spices, and red food colouring.  What you end up getting after hours of roasting is the most tender, sweet and savoury piece of meat.  I used to always eat this as a child, and still manage to import it up here from trips down at the Coast.  So needless to say, I went picking through this dish to seek out these bites of pork.

...real chow-mein...

All these yummy ingredients are cooked in a light sauce which is then poured over the bed of noodles.  My only complaint about it was that there was too much of it.  Traditionally this type of dish should have pan-fried noodles which give it a crunchy texture, but it was overwhelmed by the sauce which left the noodles limp.  However, that being said this dish alone impressed me and left me feeling just a little bit home-sick for my Momma’s food.  So obviously, I will be back for more.  Definitely.

370 Proctor Street
Williams Lake, BC  V2G 4P6

250-305-5555

Sun-Thurs: 3p – 11p / Fri-Sat: 3p – 12a

Red Tomato Pies on Urbanspoon

February 20, 2011

It’s snowing outside and temperatures are hovering around the minus 20 mark, and I pondered to myself… Why brave the outside weather when we live in an age where dinner can be brought *TO* you?  Right to your front door, in fact?  So with my mind set I scoured the phonebook and came up with basically two alternatives which deliver… pizza or Chinese food.

By a vote of 2-0, pizza won out and we decided to give the good folks at Red Tomato Pies a call.  They now sit where Canadian Pizza 2 for 1 used to be, and they must be doing something oh so right because I keep hearing good things about them.  Thus, I was quite comfortable venturing outside of my realm of comfort, where pizzas were concerned, to give them a try.

I tried to master their online ordering system, but soon grew frustrated so I gave up and just called them.  A very personable pre-recording will greet you and tell you what their current specials are.  Do not be fooled into talking to it like I did!  Wait patiently for a live person to pick up before you give them your order!

We opted for the Family Deal, which included 2 medium sized 2-topping pizzas, a small order of cheese bread, and a 2L coke.  For the foundation, you get to choose from the traditional pan crust, a thin crust, a cornmeal thin crust, or a pan-fried crust, which is a crunchier version of the pan crust.  They also have gluten-free crusts that are available in the small size.

Their choice of sauces are what really appealed to me; I’ve never been a big fan of tomato sauce and that’s probably why I don’t eat pizza as often as Mr O would like me to.  But in addition to their signature RTP red sauce, you can also choose from salsa, BBQ, alfredo, honey garlic, or pesto!  Oh the choices!

We stuck with a basic traditional pan crust, red sauce, pepperoni and black olives for our first pizza, and tried a pan-fried crust, pesto sauce, shrimp and mushrooms for our second pizza.  Then for the next 30 minutes we waited eagerly for our dinner to arrive.

I must say, when the pizzas arrived they looked very pretty right out of the box.  All the toppings were intact, the cheese on top was nicely golden, and they didn’t skimp on the ingredients (I was very surprised at home much shrimp there was on the pizza!)  I grabbed a couple of slices onto my plate and did my crust-bottom check to see how evenly it was baked… there’s nothing I hate more than a blackened crust.  Well, that’s not quite true, but I’m only talking about pizza here…

...bottoms up!...

The crust of the pan-fried wasn’t noticeably crunchier that the traditional, but it was oilier.  There was also a slight soggy factor happening to the bottom of my crust, but that might’ve been more due to the type of toppings that’s sitting on it rather than the crust itself.  Overall, it had a nice doughy bread texture that’s nice to bite into, and the rinds were very much worth eating (usually I just throw them away).  As for the traditional crust, we had absolutely no complaints about it and it was probably one of the better crusts we’ve ever had in pizza form.  The red sauce had just the right amount of herbs and spices, with a hint of tang which didn’t overwhelm the pizza, which I liked.  And the pesto was just awesome with its rich basil flavour.  Somehow it made it taste more pizza-ish.

...pesto and shrimp...

...classic pep and olives...

The cheese bread was a small pizza that’s been topped with a generous helping of cheese and some herbs.  Mr O loved it at first bite, but it took a little longer for it to grow on me.  My first thought was that there was almost an overwhelming amount of parmesan on it, but the more I ate it the more I began to crave the saltiness of it.

...cheeeeesy...

I must say we did quite a respectable job at clearing through our food, and it was a nice change of pace ordering from a local pizzeria instead of a large nationwide chain.  I’m actually looking forward to ordering out for pizza from here again because I really *really* want to try their honey garlic pizza sauce!

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