Filed under: Food
Today we broke our cardinal rule for BBQ tours: we visited a BBQ chain. While we normally restrict our BBQ adventures to Mom ‘n’ Pop places, we thought it only fair to include one chain restaurant in this year’s tour, just to see how it would stack up against the rest of the contenders. So, we struck out for Florence where we settled in for some ‘cue at Famous Dave’s BBQ.
Inside, Famous Dave’s is indistinguishable from any other chain restaurant with names like O’Fridlebees. Or something like that. You know…knick-knacks on the wall, spunky servers in uniforms, manufactured kitsch everywhere. Still, we weren’t there to marvel at the decor so we quickly made our selections from the menu and waited for the ‘cue to arrive. Service was relatively expedient — drinks were promptly refilled and the food arrived quickly and efficiently. I ordered up a half slab of baby back ribs and some brisket, which came with cornbread, corn on the cob, and two sides. I went with the mac-n-cheese and baked beans for my sides.
The brisket was an interesting case. It was tender, but the flavor and texture was just…off. A little rubbery, and tasting a little bit of liquid smoke. I was never able to put my finger on it, but there was just something about the brisket that wasn’t right. The fact that they were sliced into perfect little rectangles exactly the same size and width was a bit disconcerting and in no way helped my overall impression of it. But, the ribs were actually pretty good. They came sauced, but only with a light coating. I enjoyed that the ribs had a little fight to them, having to gnaw a little bit to separate meat from bone. Definitely a step above the ribs you usually find at the megachains and a pleasant surprise. Famous Dave’s offered six sauces to choose from, all of which were entirely too sweet for my tastes, but none of which were truly horrific like the sauce we ran into at Hooligan’s. The sides were all average, although the cornbread was better than most. Just a hint of sweet, unlike the cake that passes for cornbread all too often these days.
So, after all that, how does Famous Dave’s stack up against its smaller competition? Surprisingly well! You’ll never walk out of a Famous Dave’s thinking to yourself, “Man, that was GOOD BBQ!” But if you need a quick BBQ fix and there’s a Famous Dave’s nearby you could certainly do much worse.
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