Thursday, June 28, 2007

Restaurant Review - Famous Dave's Bar-B-Que, 1443 Route 22, Mountainside, NJ

Famous Dave's in New JerseyGrandpa, Grandma, BB and I went up to New Jersey a couple of weeks ago to visit my sister and bring my nieces back down to Florida to visit Mickey Mouse. While we were there, we ate at Famous Dave's Bar-B-Que, which just happened to be close to our hotel. Famous Dave's is a BBQ chain that has not made it's way to Central Florida yet. However, with the way chain restaurants are flying in here lately, I'm sure it's just a matter of time before one sets up residence here. Famous Dave's has a really fun, kitchy decor with several highly themed rooms. Each is decorated slightly differently but all give off the impression that you are at a hunting/camping lodge. Our room was wood panelled with lots of pictures of American Indians canoeing and duck decoys. Think lots of wood and lots of lumberjack plaid.

Famous Dave's menu is nicely laid out with fun graphics and ways that you can basically mix and match everything on the menu to make your own combo. There's even an All-American BBQ Feast for five or more hungry folks that is essentially a sampling of many of the menu items. Grandpa wanted to order that but then everyone wanted different sides than were offered on the Feast so we all decided to order our own individual meals. The kids menu, complete with crayons and drawing activities, featured "Lil Wilbur Meals" (Lil Wilbur isn't so little - he's a pig that looks like a "hefty" Porky Pig). BB wanted to get the kids rib dinner ($4.99), but he didn't want any bones. I thought maybe the Rib Tips appetizer on the adult menu would be what he was looking for but the server told us that those did indeed include bones and she warned us that they were tough and were not one of her favorites. BB and I reviewed the kids menu again and I realized he could get the kids pulled pork sandwich ($3.99) sans bread which would give him the BBQ meat he wanted without bones. I chose the Two-Meat Combo ($13.99) and chose the lemon pepper chicken and beef brisket. Grandpa ordered the Texas Beef Brisket ($12.99), Grandma ordered the Georgia Chopped Pork ($10.99) and my brother ordered a half slab of the Baby Back Ribs ($15.99).

We all ended up trying a little bit of everything. The pulled pork was the winner of the night - extremely tender, light smokey flavor, very tasty and savory. The beef brisket, while also very good, was a bit too smokey for me and was not quite as tender as the pulled pork. I wished I had ordered the pork instead. My lemon pepper chicken was fantastic - perfectly done, moist, with full lemon Famous Dave's Lemon Pepper Chicken and Beef Brisketflavor and just the slightest hint of pepper seasoning. And the lemon flavor was in every bite, not just in the skin. All combo meals come with a cornbread muffin and a small corn-on-the-cob, as well as two other sides. My Sweet Potato Smash was an ice-cream scoop shaped portion of mashed sweet potatoes topped with melted butter and cinnamon sugar (oh yeah!). Again, very nicely done, not overly seasoned, just the natural potato finely smashed and the sweetness of the topping. The Famous Dave's Kids Pulled Porkcole slaw was another story. To me, it was too vinegary, and not creamy enough, however, that is probably an individual taste preference. I had a few bites and left the rest. BB loved his pulled pork and was happy with his potato salad as well. All kids meals also come with a small package of Oreo cookies. My brother was very disappointed with his baby back ribs. He said they were very tough and had obviously been cooked too long. Since this would be our only visit to Famous Dave's I don't know if that is how they normally are or if this order was an anomaly. Also, no one ordered the St. Louis-style spare ribs so we couldn't compare the two types.

I had to try dessert because the photo of the bread pudding just looked amazing on the menu. Up until a few months ago, I didn't think I liked bread pudding, but after trying it at the House of Blues Gospel Brunch, I realized it wasn't too bad! As I ordered the bread pudding, our server warned us that it has golden raisins instead of regular ones. I didn't even know it had raisins so I told her that was actually a good thing because I don't like regular raisins but I do like golden raisins. That started a discussion between us on the attributes of each type of raisin (the black ones remain chewy - which she liked; the golden ones soak up the sauce and get very soft - which I like). When the bread pudding arrived, it was enormous. It was easily enough for four people. I Famous Dave's Bread Puddingbegged everyone at the table to please help me eat it because there was no way I was going to finish it. I scooped up a spoonful of the warm creamy bread, scraped up a bit of the vanilla ice cream served on the side and then dipped a bit into the praline sauce pooling around the bottom of the pudding. OMG! It was great! The texture was perfect - slightly firm but giving like a stiff flan. And the sauce was just incredible - caramel and cinnamon with bits of pecans - a perfect accompaniment to the pudding and ice cream. I forced myself to eat as much as I could - just because it was so darn good - but then had to leave more than half of it over. Famous Dave's is a fun family-friendly place and I'd welcome a location or two here in Central Florida.


Anonymous said...

I wrote to their corporate office and mentioned that we LOVED it and also about Randy's rib problem, will let you know if I hear back


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