I like BBQ. I like a sharp smoke flavor. You can slice it, shred it, make it so tender that it falls off the bone, and I’ll eat it up. Dry-rubbed, sauced-up, spicy, tangy, sweet. You name it – I like it. If you do it right, present it right, and give me a good atmosphere to eat it – I’ll be sure to sing your praises. If you don’t, then you’re likely to get one of these; as it is with Fat Daddy’s, the new BBQ restaurant that’s opened up in Conway, Arkansas’ downtown area. Fat Daddy’s comes to us from Russellville where they’ve enjoyed some success. It was on the advice of an extended family member, and resident of that town, that I found myself trying it out. I had previously thought it was just Yet Another BBQ Place. But, having been regaled with a recounting of the deliciousness of several of their dishes, I thought – what the heck. We’ll give it a try to see if I was wrong.
Alas, I was right in the first place. While I’m sure the decor, the location, and the prices will ensure that the place will get packed once everyone really knows, we stopped by on a Saturday afternoon for lunch, and the place was about a third full. We were seated, as you do, right on the sunny window-side.
Two things make a good dining experience; the food and the service. I was immediately unimpressed with the service. They certainly did not appear to be happy we were there. The reception was luke-warm, and our waitress had as much urgency about her as someone half-asleep.
When we asked about the special, the waitress had to look it up. From the sandwich board at the hostess station, we knew the daily special was the ribs. But, it didn’t say if it was a 1/2 rack or full; or what the special pricing was. We did get that all straightened out. The full rack was around $20 and was 12 bones and two sides.
We had heard good things about their fried pickles, so we asked to start with those, for the full rack with their “Almost Famous” baked beans and their Smokey Cheesy Potatoes.
Well, the fried pickles lived up to the promise and honestly, is the dish that stood out. The batter was crisp and hot around a dill spear which was also crisp. That is the way fried pickles should be rather than soft and mushy.
The ribs came out overcooked. They were tender but dry all the way through. The beans tasted as if they came from a can. It is no wonder that they’re not good enough to be famous.
What was truly disappointing was the Smokey, Cheesy potatoes. I wanted them to be good. I wanted the smoky flavor.
It came out in a small ceramic dish (as did the beans) done like a casserole. Both dishes were merely warm – not hot, and there was a distinct lack of smokiness to the potatoes. Instead, they were kind of sweet and, though loaded with cheese; it was so mild that it I wouldn’t call it cheesy. I started to wonder why they were called Smokey, Cheesy.
I’ll have to give the mopey service a pass. You’d think that the managers would hire people who could pretend to be happy to be there. But, with an obviously inexperienced staff, that can only improve.
I cannot pretend to be excited to see a new BBQ place in town. There are already several. They do well, and they’re tasty. I’m not sure we needed another one.