Famous Dave’s

Posted: January 22, 2012 in Restaurant Review
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One guaranteed hit with my family is BBQ!  Everyone loves it.  For my husband’s birthday dinner, we went to Famous Dave’s this year (be sure to check their website and sign up for their P.I.G. email list, and they’ll send you a special coupon for your birthday!)

Baby Back-n-Meat BBQ Combo (with brisket, Wilbur Beans and Drunkin' Apples)

Order:  My husband wanted to try the Southside Rib Tips for an appetizer ($11.99) and as an entry, I chose the Baby Back-n-Meat BBQ Combo (Original Style, I chose Texas Beef Brisket to go along with my Baby Back Ribs:  $20.99).

Location:  9911 NE Cascades Parkway, Portland, OR

What I Think:

As I said in the introduction, barbeque is always a hit with my family.  It’s probably my youngest daughter’s favorite dinner, and it would probably rank in the top 5 for my husband, and the top 10 for me.  Of the few places that we’ve tried in the Portland area, my daughter’s favorite BBQ spot is Famous Dave’s.

Before our appetizer was brought to the table, our server brought a small bowl of salted potato chips to the table so that we could test out the rather impressive selection of barbeque sauces on the table:  Georgia Mustard (not your average mustard, this one was sweet with just a hint of sharpness from the mustard, and a tangy note from vinegar), Texas Pit (one of my favorites, this one had a nice balance between hot and sweet, with a nice tomato-y flavor), Sweet and Zesty (another favorite of mine, I actually mixed the Texas Pit & the Sweet and Zesty together for my brisket; this sauce had a delicious sweetness to it with a hint of citrus.  It goes light on the spice, but there is some spice to it that lingers in the aftertaste), Devil’s Spit (which, as implied by the name is quite spicy) as well as the classic Original Rich and Sassy.  Also on our table was Famous Dave’s newest sauce creation called Wilbur’s Revenge, which was (according to our server) is made with habanero peppers.  I was not feeling so adventurous as to try this one.

Our first visit to Famous Dave’s was shortly after this Portland location opened, and the appetizer we ordered was the Onion Strings.  These are yummy.  I was a little disappointed that we didn’t order them again this time … disappointed until the platter arrived at the table and I sunk my teeth into one of those amazing rib tips!  So good!  Succulent, juicy meat that’s been slow cooked so that it falls off the tip of the bone (which is actually more like cartilage than it is bone).  A good amount of char on the meat, but, it isn’t overdone.  So tender and good.  These came with a side of pickles and pickled red onion.  The pickled red onion makes a remarkable palate cleanser – not too spicy, not too sour, but just enough of a different flavor to enliven the palate after it becomes inundated with BBQ sauce.

My daughter consumed so much of the appetizer, she didn’t have room for her dinner when it arrived.  Seriously!  We had that packaged up (because hey, what’s better than going out for ribs for dinner?  Going out for ribs and having left overs for the next day.  Oh yeah!)

But, I still had some room for my dinner.  The brisket was amazing – so incredibly tender.  It melted in my mouth!  I shared some with my husband, and I think he was probably wishing he went with the combo instead of the Big Slab ($22.99)  The ribs were also quite tender, with a nice seasoning to them that was not too hot nor too sweet, and I found that these also reheated nicely since most of them ended up in the “doggy bag” for lunch the next day.

As side dishes, I chose the Wilbur Beans and the Drunkin’ Apples.  The beans were just alright … tasty, but not the best BBQ beans I’ve ever tasted or anything.  In fact, I think I’ve tasted better from a can.  The sauce could have been thicker, I think they needed to be simmered longer so that the sauce could reduce and thicken.  Not bad, but not great either.

But, I loved the apples.  So much so, that I found myself wishing I had ordered apples as both sides and foregone the Wilbur Beans.  These delicious, cooked until tender but not mushy apples were a little sweet warmly spiced from the cinnamon, which was sprinkled liberally over the apples.  I could also taste just a hint of almond flavor.   I liked how the sweetness of the apples complemented the the tangy barbeque sauce on the ribs and brisket.

My Final Thoughts:

I don’t know that I would say that Famous Dave’s is my favorite BBQ establishment in this area, but, I do know that it’s my daughter’s favorite restaurant, so I suspect that they haven’t seen the last of us at Famous Dave’s.  The food is delicious, though, and I especially loved the rib tips appetizer – so much so that I think I could have been happy ordering that as my entree.  Good food, lively atmosphere, and very friendly service.  Not much to complain about!

Famous Daves on Urbanspoon

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