Saturday, December 13, 2008

Pig Piggy Pig Pig Pig

Don't go to Famous Dave's if you're a vegan; at least if you don't want to feel like you have to scrub down like you've been exposed to radiation from the aroma alone.

This place is a meatfest!

We passed by this place frequently for nearly a year and, as usual, were skeptical about how good and "famous" this place was. Tony Roma, I had heard of, but Famous Dave's? Never heard of the dude. While I had taken a few days off a few weeks back, we decided to stop in for an early lunch at 11:30, hoping to not catch a lunch rush.

We were right. No one but one other couple was there. Gah! How bad is this place?!

Since it was our first time there, the server brought us a plate of fries (too salty) and explained the 5 barbecue sauce flavors that were at each table in squeeze bottles kept in a root beer bottle carrier. On the plate, she wrote the names of the flavors with each corresponding sauce. I liked the zing of the Devil's Spit, while Bug liked the Texas Pit for the peppery undertone.

We ordered the rib tips ($7.99) to start. A couple pounds of tender, moist, and SMOKY cubes of meat with their Rich & Sassy sauce (sweet and zesty) over a pile of their fries on wax paper in a basket arrived. We were impressed. I was full half way through the batch and ended up having to pack it up to take home.

For our entrees, we ordered the lunch special ($7.99), a pick-your-own combination platter that came with a 1/2 cob of corn, corn bread muffin, and one side.

I'm a big fan of beef, but not a fan of pork or chicken, so as usual, I ordered the Georgia chopped pork and the lemon pepper charbroiled chicken with the Wilbur beans as my side. Bug ordered the beef brisket and St. Louis-style spare ribs with Firecracker green beans.

As one of their quips on a table-side menu boasts, their ribs are "so tender Grandpa can leave his teeth at home." All their meats are that way. I was wowed by how consistently (ok, I'm sure this description is getting tired) tender, moist, and smoky their meats were. As great as their sauces are, I prefer meat without sauce, so I can savor that deep flavor and imagine myself standing at the smoker on a clear summer day breathing in the aroma -- of course, someone else would be doing all the work.

The Wilbur beans were reminiscent of pork and beans. It was quite good. Any bowl of saucy sweet-smoky beans are "pork and beans" to me. I did not eat beans cooked this way very often as a child, so that's more or less my knowledge base on sweet-savory beans.

Bug loved his brisket and talked about them nearly every day until we returned tonight.

We ordered the salmon spread to start ($6.99). I was skeptical (so why did I order it?) but my experiences with salmon at steakhouses have been quite good, so I figured it couldn't be THAT bad. Or am I just that lucky?

Woah. Sprinkled atop the salmon spread, that didn't have chopped raw onions, were chunks of smoked (surprise!) salmon. The salmon was outstanding. The grilled flat bread was incredible on its own.

At the time, I hadn't ordered my entree yet as I was flipping back and forth between getting a sandwich or a salad. The salmon made my choice difficult by adding yet another dish I wanted to try. The smoked salmon Caesar salad. I was hankerin' for something cool and crisp with my meat, too.

I decided to order the Texas Manhandler ($8.79) with Mac 'n cheese side, and Bug got the Baby Back-N-Meat BBQ Combo ($18.99 -- wth? I didn't realize it was that expensive!) with cole slaw and fries. His meat choice was Georgia chopped pork.

I tell ya, these servings are Paul Bunyon sized portions. Bug's ribs were like the size of a hind quarter of a deer or something. My sandwich was stacked with a heap of beef brisket and sliced sausages. I gave Bug the mac 'n cheese and the rest of the sausage slices after eating two pieces. They weren't bad, they did satisfy my curiosity. Bug's ribs were good, but the beef brisket was godly.

The bread pudding ($5.99) came in a large platter with a heap of whipped cream, scoop of vanilla bean ice cream, and a generous portion of praline sauce with chopped pecans. The bread pudding was an obscene (read: Texas) sized (~4" x 6" x 2") block of warm custard. It was softer than I anticipated, but the edges were firm so it didn't squish when sliced with a spoon.

Yeah, Bug boxed his dinner and dessert leftovers. I'll probably snag the bread pudding before he wakes up tomorrow morning.

Famous Dave's is smokin'. Factor in the price and attentive service, they're incredible. Oh, and no pictures because I don't want my really awesome camera to get gunked up! I promise that it's not because I forgot my camera at home because I didn't expect to eat out *cough*. And I promise this is a true story!

- Cassaendra

Famous Dave's
26410 Great Northern Shop Ctr
North Olmsted, OH 44070
(440) 777-0200

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