483 Range Lake Rd, Yellowknife – 867-920-4914 – Website
Date of Visit: August 1, 2013
When I first saw the outdoor sign for Sam’s I thought it must be a family restaurant but it is, in fact, primarily a pub with food. After a rather mediocre experience at the nearby ‘Hot Shots Pub and Grub’ the night before, this place turned out to be very pleasant and well worth the visit…
Ambience and Service
Inside, Sam’s is very nicely appointed, with lots of brick and dark wood. There is a small dance floor, as well as a DJ booth that is operational on Friday and Saturday nights, and a pool table is available as well. Several TV screens of various sizes are placed around the interior and, while I was there at least, were all tuned to sports channels. A few hockey pictures, as well as some other athletic memorabilia, are displayed but other than this, the place is pretty much a generic pub rather than a ‘sports bar’.
I arrived at 11am, after walking around shopping all morning, and was the first customer, although a few others arrived very soon after. The service was prompt, and remained so during my stay, and the waitress who served me was very polite, friendly and helpful with the menu.
Sam’s, in addition to seating over 100 inside, also features a very pleasant patio which, I presume, is only open for a few months each year. It was a little windy during my visit so I sat inside but, had they permitted smoking out there, I might have gladly braved the elements.
Sam’s menu very much features a standard sort of pub style fare but is pretty impressive nonetheless. There are several different burger, poutine and pizza offerings, along with chicken wings in 11 flavors, various sandwiches, and a number of ‘small plates’, including deep fried pickles, dry ribs and calamari. The donairs are made with a recipe they cheerfully describe as being stolen from the “Pizza Corner” in downtown Halifax. There are three steaks on offer, including a ‘Texas T-Bone’ that weighs in at 16oz, but these are only available after 5pm, or I may have been tempted to try one. Their 10oz ‘Chicago Rib-eye’, marinated in Chimichurri with a Cajun rub sounded especially interesting.
Deep Fried Pickles with Lemon Caper Aioli … I have heard of deep fried pickles before (I gather they are a favorite in the southern US), but I had never tried them as of this occasion and couldn’t resist the opportunity here…
The actual experience was, as I can best describe it, interesting. I don’t usually eat whole dill pickles as a snack but, for those who do, this preparation will likely be enjoyable. The pickles were fried in a thick breading rather than a batter and were deftly done on the whole. The aioli was not a heck of a lot different from a tartar sauce (not much taste of lemon really) but the pickles needed something for a dip and this worked just fine. I wasn’t crazy about these myself but that was just personal taste and not a reflection of the quality. Rating… 3 out of 5.
“Untouchable Ribs” … The name of this offering suggests that these ribs are without compare but, actually, it is in keeping with the theme suggested by the ‘Mafia Strip-loin’ and the ‘Godfather’ and ‘Goodfellas’ burgers also available on the menu. The half-rack (available as a full rack after 5pm), is described on the menu as ‘grilled, braised, chianti bbq ribs’ and comes with fries, soup or salad. I chose the fries…
Well, this was certainly a gargantuan serving for a lunch meal. There was a whole raft of fries (delicious, but far more than I could manage) and a generous portion of a cole-slaw that was almost exactly like the sort I make at home. The ribs were nicely flavored, with a pleasant tang and good smoky taste, but they were cooked to the ‘falling-off-the-bone’ degree that I don’t usually enjoy. Still, that being said, Sam’s cooked them just the way most people seem to like them so I have to tip my hat to the good-job done. Rating… 4 out of 5.
I enjoyed almost three very pleasant hours at Sam’s. The service was great and the food, although it didn’t especially ‘wow’ me was well prepared and as good as any I have had in a pub type setting. I would have no hesitation in returning on future visits to Yellowknife. Rating … 4 out of 5.