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By Maxwell Tucker
A lot more than you expected… without question, that will be your overwhelming impression of William’s Restaurant & Tavern in Gardner.
My guest and I set out on a rainy weekend afternoon for a first time visit to this great restaurant. Much more than a tavern, Williams is actually a large facility with twin dining rooms and a full bar in each. One dining room has a more contemporary edge to it, while the other boasts the warm knotty pine and long stocked bar that you’d expect out of a northern Central MA tavern.
Extensive entrees, regular pub fare and an excellent list of specials gave us a lot to consider as we began to peruse the offerings.
I started with a well prepared and hearty bowl of chowder, served in a baked bean crock, while my guest dug into boneless Buffalo wings. Other more whimsically named app’s included Wing Dings and BBQ Angels on Horseback.
Moving onto our dinners (and trying to avoid pasta in deference to our low carb life-style), I found I was torn between the 10 oz Swordfish and a house pasta specialty, Chicken Olympia. The rainy day called for comfort food, so I thumbed my nose at South Beach and went with the pasta…and thank goodness I did. I enjoyed one of the best pasta dishes I’ve had in a very long time. Perfectly prepared fettuccine provided the base for sautéed chicken with portabellas and generous amounts of sundried tomatoes. Handled in just the right amount of a Madeira cream sauce, this dish was outstanding and way more than I had hoped for when we’d headed out for dinner. The generous and delicious portion made for one of the first times I have actually asked for a doggie bag.
My guest chose the filet that also was way above and beyond for the price and location. Expertly wound in thick bacon that sweetened the filet ~ and accompanied by dense onion rings and a pile of mashed potatoes with brown gravy ~ he savored the dish to the very end.
We finished off our evening by tasting the desserts because, well, that was our job, right? My guest enjoyed his favorite, carrot cake, while I succumbed to the temptation that was the White Lightning. Covered in white chocolate chips, this devil’s food three-layer cake had butterscotch filling topped off with white chocolate lightening bolts. Yes, I did leave some on the plate, but only so as not to have to undo the top button on my pants!
Locals had been coming and going in a steady stream to the large bar in our dining room (the pine paneled one) which boasts tap, full bar and frozen drinks. I also followed my ears and found a rollicking birthday party tucked away in a large function room in the back. In other words, come one, come all, there’s something for everyone and every age.
To do more complete justice to the great variety and number of options at Williams Restaurant & Tavern, you’ll have to go and view the menu in person, and then sample whatever strikes your fancy ~ Chicken and Shrimp Jambalaya, Pot Roast, The Meat Loaf Special, Prime Rib, one of seven different steak preparations, and much more.
Williams Restaurant & Tavern in Gardner is a great find and offers some of the best food in North Central MA. So get there…soon.
184 Pearson Blvd
Gardner, MA 01440