Chain Link: Famous Dave's BBQ | Rock Candy

Chain Link: Famous Dave's BBQ


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RIB TIPS:  Plentiful at Famous Daves.
I went to check out another chain restaurant this week, thanks to a recommendation from Janelle, who mentioned that the fries at Famous Dave’s BBQ are pretty awesome. Okay, challenge accepted.

We made it a family outing, stopping by one night to get some grub and feed the girl child. Hunter, like most toddlers, likes a good French fry, so we ordered her a chicken finger and fries kids meal ($3.99). And we stole some of her fries — which was par for the course, since she stole our cobs of corn. And yes, they are crispy on the outside, slightly battered and soft on the inside. A good fry.

But how’s the barbecue?

To cover a little bit of everything, the hubster and I both chose the Two Meat BBQ Combo ($13.79), which included two choices of meat, two choices of side items, corn on the cob and a sweet corn muffin. How sweet’s that muffin? You can smell the Yankee in it from across the room. SWEET. Like cake. Not that it wasn’t edible, it’s just not cornbread like we’d serve here in the South.

The meat choices include Texas beef brisket, Georgia pulled pork, Southside rib tips, barbecue or country roasted chicken, chicken tenders, hot link sausage and traditional or boneless chicken wings. Side items include Wilbur beans (beans with beef and pork), creamy coleslaw, drunken apples, garlic red skin mashed potatoes, mashed sweet potatoes, “firecracker” green beans, potato salad, steamed broccoli, mac and cheese and fries. Thanks to all those choices we were able to come up with two completely different dinners easily.

The hubster got the rib tips and the boneless chicken wings — which he had done up with the Rich & Sassy barbecue sauce (the other choices being Georgia mustard that’s rather vinegary, Sweet & Zesty that borders on being too sweet, Texas Pit that’s strong on the black pepper and Devil Spit — you can imagine how that one goes). The rib tips were plentiful and they looked marvelous… sure, they had bits of cartilage to work around, but they were juicy and had a nice somewhat sweet rub on them. He loved the boneless wings — which were far more like chicken tenders with sauce on them, in my honest opinion. For his side items he went with the creamy coleslaw and the mashed potatoes — both of which were fine but not extraordinary. For some reason they’d included some celery and carrot sticks with ranch dressing — which, for the most part, he ignored.

I had chosen the barbecue chicken and the Texas brisket. The chicken was fall-off-the-bone soft, smoky and juicy but missing something… I don’t know, it really did need some sauce to kick it up, and a little bit of the Georgia mustard did all right with it. I was far more impressed with the spoon tender brisket, which fell apart at the poke. The slices were served up on a piece of Texas toast that caught about all of that fatty juice… not that I’m saying I minded that.

I chose the mashed sweet potatoes and the mac and cheese as my side items. The sweet potatoes were a puree with a bare little bit of brown sugar on them. They were listed in the menu as being less than 100 calories a serving… which, yes, I’m sure that’s grand but they lacked in salt and texture. The mac and cheese was far more interesting; Dave’s Macaroni and Cheese contained little bits of jalapeno and kernels of corn, which gave it a different texture and a more amusing flavor with just a tiny bit of heat to it.

As I said, Hunter confiscated our cobs of corn, which like the corn muffins come with everything. On this trip we didn’t get around to dessert — honestly, I asked for my box less than halfway into my dish and the hubster did likewise. It was a lot of food..

A few years ago I’d be complaining about the price, but the way food costs have been going up lately, Famous Dave’s seems pretty much on target. Still, I could go get most of what they offered down the road at Whole Hog and would have something a little more local than a chain out of Minnesota. I think I’d have picked up a lot more smokehouse flavor, too. For a Northern chain, Famous Dave’s really isn’t that bad, but it seems to be missing soul.

Our local location is on Shackleford Road right next to Sekisui. (501) 221-3283 or check out the Little Rock menu on the Famous Dave’s website.

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