BBQ heaven in Abu Dhabi - Famous Dave's, Abu Dhabi.

Abu Dhabi residents are always on the look-out for the next thing as far as restaurants go. The casual dining segment is a very competitive one, with quite a few foreign brands arriving in the nation's capital. The recent arrival of Famous Dave's, the multi-award winning BBQ restaurant from the U.S. at Abu Dhabi Mall is a testimony to this. I braved a mall on a Thursday night to see how it compared with other American casual dining restaurants. 

There is a quirkiness about Famous Daves that will make you want to go back. There are little things which make it a different experience compared to their rivals. Our waitress introduced herself and talked about why she was famous - a tag line at the restaurant. In turn, we had to tell her why we were famous. I like it. A natural ice breaker and creates a connection immediately. 

Famous Daves has a very southern feel to it. Wooden floors are just part of what give sit a rustic feel. 'Half completed' barns give the feeling that you are, as my 9-year old put it, on a farm. Make sure you sit on the wooden benches to give it that extra charm. There is no place like this in Abu Dhabi.  And this is just the decor.

This is a big part of their success. The staff is young and a cut above the rest in terms of Famous Daves' competition. The floor boasts 15 different nationalities, and I commend them on this. People want diversity. Staff have a youthfulness about them, ensuring you have a great time interacting with them. Our waitress on the night, Buken, epitomises what I like about the staff - warm, friendly and knowledgeable - the latter reflects the immense training staff have undergone. 

Jean Strauss, the Brand Chef, hails from South Africa, and if there is one thing you need to know about South Africans it is that they are passionate about their meat. Chef Jean brings that passion to the fore as he treats us to a visit to the huge smoker, showing us how he creates Famous Daves' distinctive flavours. By the way, I am not saying what they are , but he has some exciting additions to the Ramadan menu coming up. 

The meat, yes the meat!

I start with the Roasted garlic-chipotle hummus. While the menu at Famous Daves is what you will find at every Daves elsewhere in the world, this item is rooted in this region. So many highlights in this dish, with the pickled black and white mushrooms soooo good. The fire grilled flatbread is equally tasty, seasoned just right. Finally, I love the smoothly textured hummus. Chef has also managed to get the balance right. A must try. 

For my main I go with the Beef back Rib-n-meat combo. It is a winner. Beef back rib is accompanied another choice of meat, and I go with the Brisket braised for 10 hours. The two offer something very different, keeping my plate and indeed palate interested. I love the firmness of the brisket, which nonetheless breaks effortlessly as I cut it. The ribs, on the other hand, are juicy and throughout my meal, the smokiness lingers - wonderful. It is accompanied by two sides - Grilled pineapple  and Baked beans. What I find quite extraordinary other than the taste, is that the combo costs under 90AED! It could easily have fed two people. 

My guest has the Short ribs and it too is perfect, as suggested by the smoke ring on the outer part of the meat - the smoke ring is a layer of pinkish red that is a tell tale sign of a piece of meat that is beautifully smoked. 

Kids are not left out, as they have a choice of meaty options too, and my daughter tucks into the Kids beef ribs dinner. Places like Famous Daves are ideal for families wanting to hang out in a  mall, and based on my daughter's reaction, I can say it is now her favourite casual dining restaurant in a mall. 

We end off dinner with dessert, and we end up trying tasting portions of a few desserts. The desserts are hearty, with the Bread pudding,  in particular, full of all the homeliness you sometimes seek in a restaurant in a mall. Of course, there is a Hot fudge chocolate brownie, balanced by vanilla ice cream, described as  'super-rich' by my daughter and finally my favourite, the Down home Banana pudding, which has all the flavour of banana without the feeling of bloatedness that usually accompanies a banana-based dessert. 

When you are in a restaurant and notice people standing in line, offered a courtesy drink (nice touch), waiting for a table, you kind of feel all these people cannot be wrong. I like everything about Famous Daves. One of the things I was worried about was that it was in a mall like Abu Dhabi mall which can get so full on weekends, but the restaurant's location in the mall meant this concern was moot. There was no need to navigate to the bowels of the mall. It is on the 3rd level just above the entrance. Nice. I liked the diverse staff and the way they have been trained. It is value for money and at a time when people are really watching their spending, this is important. Abu Dhabi Mall has just become more alluring to me!

The Essentials

Famous Daves Legendary Pit-Bar-B-Que
Abu Dhabi Mall,
Abu Dhabi.
Saturday – Wednesday : 11:00 am - 11:00 pm
Thursday & Friday : 11.00 am - 12.00 am

+971 2 6587863


Brandon Stoltenkamp

Disclaimer: I was invited to try Famous Daves courtesy of the restaurant.