What’s so Famous about Dave?

Famous Dave'sI’ve never heard of him before, but apparently this “Dave” guy is pretty famous when it comes to BBQ restaurants.

Today marked the first day of Open-For-Business status of our Tallahassee Dave’s. All of last week they had a banner hanging out front saying they were in training, but today was the first day open to the public (aka, me).

The decor is your basic fern bar with miscellaneous junk (traffic signs, buckets, engine belts/hoses, surfboards, etc.) covering every inch of wall space, plenty of neon and the occasional sheet metal & oak for accents.

I’m a fan of good BBQ, and I’m happy to say that, in the food department, Dave’s doesn’t disappoint. They have five different sauces on the table: Satan’s Spit, Texas Hit, Spicy Something-or-other, a mustard-based sauce and what appeared to be the Famous Dave signature sauce as it was in a double-sized squeeze bottle.

Sadly, I only know what these sauces taste like on the tip of my index finger, because my BBQ entree came slathered in sauce already. I’d recommend specifying that your dish come not pre-drowned so you can sample the various sauces on the table (cleverly displayed in a cardboard six-pack carrying case).

My friend and I each had the lunch special, which comes with your choice of meat, a cornbread cupcake, a 1/3 corn-on-the-cob and your choice of potato (we both tried fries, which were of the non-standard crinkle-cut wedge variety: very crispy and very tasty). I went with pulled pork and he had the rib tips. After trying both, the rib tips are by far the way to go: lots more meat and much more tender & juicy.

After all of this praise for the food, though, I’ve can’t be so upbeat about the service. Our waitress was a little late getting to the table (understandable for the first day the joint was open), and took our drink order. Gone for five minutes or so she returned and gave us each the other’s drink and asked to take our order. My order went something like this:

Me: “I’d like the lunch special with pulled pork and Famous Fries as the potato.”

Alexandra: “So you’d like a side of fries?”

Me: “No, don’t fries come with the special? It says here that it does.”

Alexandra: “Oh, yes. Okay so that’s the two-meat lunch special?”

Me: “No, isn’t pulled pork just one meat?”

Alexandra: “Oh, OK. I see.”

Alexandra seemed a little flustered (she later explained she was “having a terrible day” — which your guest never needs to hear you whining about) for the duration of our stay. I had to flag down a fellow server to get a drink refill, she never remembered to bring ice my dining companion requested (she got better about drinks later in the meal), and my check & credit card lay on the table for about 15 minutes before I asked whether I was to take it to a register myself or not.

And while she gets a little bit of understanding for it being the first day, other servers seemed to have a cooler head, and some even appeared to have their act together so much that they were standing around idle while Alexandra was scurrying about and looking disheveled. If I were the manager, I’d have been out on the floor for day one ensuring that every patron’s first impression was a positive one. Didn’t see one that I was aware of.

Luckily, the value (about $10/head for lunch), portion size & food quality was enough to bring me back again to roll the dice on a different server.

When you go (and I recommend you do), just remember to tell them to hold the sauce in the kitchen, and find out where Alexandra’s section is and ask to be seated elsewhere.

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