By Robert Stieve | Photo by Geoff Gourley
Broiled salmon filet basted with basil-butter and served with cranberry-pine-nut couscous … that's the kind of thing you expect to find in Phoenix or Scottsdale, not in Williams, Arizona. Not only that, the unexpected entrée is served on a white tablecloth — or beige, as it were.
All of this is surprising because Williams, historically, has been a meat-and-potatoes kind of town. Period. Places like Sue-B's Steakhouse, Rod's Steak House and Wild West Junction are the norm. The Red Raven Restaurant, with its gourmet menu and notable wine list, is a considerable change of pace. In this case, change is good.
Co-owned by the husband-wife team of David and Rozan Haines, the Red Raven has been impressing desperate locals and flavor-starved tourists since it opened in June 2006. There are three reasons for that: ambience, service and food.
In addition to the salmon filet, the alluring menu includes Tempura Style Shrimp and Red Raven Pasta (chicken breast, sweet red peppers and oven-roasted tomatoes tossed with penne pasta and topped with Parmesan cheese). And for traveling carnivores, there's a long list of steaks, including a ribeye that was recently dubbed "one of the best" by a ribeye aficionado.
"I have a passion for cooking and wanted to create a restaurant that I'd like to go to," says David Haines, the head chef. "Not just for food, but for the whole experience." Part of that experience is the place itself. Long and narrow — about 25 feet by 80 feet — the Red Raven is cozy and inviting.
When you pass through the front door (painted red), you'll see a brick wall at one end, a high ceiling (also painted red) and green wainscoting all around. There are 10 booths, eight tables, retro artwork on the walls and an abundance of charm, all of which is orchestrated by Rozan, who will take your order and make you feel at home. Like the food and the ambience, the service at Red Raven is spectacular, which isn't always the case in Phoenix and Scottsdale.
Red Raven is located at 135 W. Historic Route 66 in Williams. For more information, call 928-635-4980 or visit www.redravenrestaurant.com.