As you all know by now, I love to keep a variety of Famous Dave’s barbeque sauces on hand because that “stuff” tastes good on everything. So last summer when Famous Dave’s opened a restaurant in the heart of Bel Air, I raced right in to try it. No longer would I have to drive to Owings Mills, Columbia or Annapolis to get some good ole barbeque with all the fixins. Since their grand opening, I have dined there many times, ordered some party food from their catering menu (yes, I cheated!) and of course have stopped in to purchase sauces and rubs to use at home. And surprise, surprise, my all time favorite item on the menu is not the ribs, as you would expect. It is the Sweetwater Catfish Fingers which are lightly breaded in a Cajun cornmeal, fried, and then served with a remoulade sauce and also what they call a Sweet Soul Jalapeno Sauce. Finger licking good!!
Falling under the Appetizer category, Famous Dave’s offers a selection of soups and salads, including a Caesar salad with chicken or salmon, a BBQ Chicken salad, a Chicken Wild Rice Soup and chili. However, I have to admit that I have yet to try any of these. Although they look tasty, who honestly wants to eat a salad when there are so many other artery clogging foods to sample?
At the beginning of the meal, your server will ask if you are a first time visitor. If you are, he/she will give you a tour of their sauces – Texas Pit, Rich & Sassy, Georgia Mustard, Sweet & Zesty and Devils Spit. They are all good, but a frosty beer makes them even better.
Moving on to what Famous Dave’s is actually famous for – their ribs. Hand-rubbed with a secret blend of tongue-tingling spices, pit-smoked for 3-4 hours, slathered in sauce, then flame-kissed on the grill, you can’t really go wrong here can you? The best part might be that they are served in a metal garbage can lid. With plenty of paper towels of course. And the side dishes are worth a little extra time on the treadmill – you can choose from Wilbur beans, potato salad, sauteed apples, macaroni & cheese, mashed taters, french fries and cole slaw. Don’t skip that slaw – it is sweet but also tangy and not too wet. Although it might seem like the corn bread is thrown on your plate as an afterthought, it is extraordinary. The macaroni and the baked beans have a little pep in their step, so children might not like them.
If you aren’t in the mood for ribs, you can always get a burger, chicken sandwich, steak tenderloin, citrus grilled shrimp, pork sandwich or beef brisket. The list is endless so hopefully your appetite is as well. My nephew said that the burger is the best one he has ever had. Now granted he is only 11 years old, but I still believe him. The Ultimate BBQ Burger is described as a juicy ground beef patty beneath a pile of Georgia chopped pork with two strips of jalapeño bacon, melted Cheddar cheese, and our signature Beam & Cola BBQ sauce. Again, make sure you order that beer! Unless you are 11 of course.
After a night of catfish, ribs and all the sides, I’ve never had room to try any of their desserts. Next time I will get some to-go because I’ve never met a bread pudding that I didn’t like and theirs sounds delicious. It’s served with a pecan praline sauce and vanilla bean ice cream. You can also order the pecan praline sauce on an ice cream sundae. A Hot Fudge Kahlua Brownie or Pecan Pie round out the dessert list.
The only thing consistently wrong with Famous Dave’s is the corn on the cob. Being born and raised in Maryland, perhaps I have become a “corn snob”, but I refuse to eat frozen corn! It just ain’t right.
If your name is Dave (or even David) stop in on August 14, show a photo I.D. and you will get a free entrée up to $15 ($7.50 if your middle name is Dave).
Now that your mouth is watering for barbeque, think about checking out the Barbeque Bash in downtown Bel Air on August 12 from 4 p.m. – 10 p.m. and August 13 from Noon until 10 p.m.
615-B Bel Air Road
Bel Air, MD 21014