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Fat Daddy's sauces the Springs in something different




Other than the obligatory bayou sports swag dotting the dining room, it's not clear why Fat Daddy's brands itself as Louisiana barbecue, a nebulous style if style it even is. Ask the waitress and she'll tell you, "I'm not 100 percent sure, but it's good food." Owner Richard Kennedy does hail from Shreveport, but if you ask him, he says the difference isn't in the meat — it's in his soda-based sauces.

It doesn't really matter because both are right: The food is good, and the sauces are noteworthy. In fact, the sauces are straight-up gangster.

Corn-syrup opponents might balk at bases of A&W Root Beer and orange Crush, but each of the four — medium-thick, tomato-centric and, in one case, Broncos-themed — brings it. The regular is sweet and clean; the medium, very peppery with a kick harder than a drunk Matt Prater; and the hot a viscous black-red that oozes from a squeeze bottle marked with three Xs, before punishing you with habañero heat. One taste and you're riding a wave of panic that crashes on rocks of pain before salvation arrives via endorphin euphoria. It's fantastic.

We first encountered the restaurant on a clear day, full of sweet-smelling smoke pouring from the heavy, black, dual-chimneyed rig out back, where you also find a sprawling pile of hickory logs. (I think Kennedy's using only those logs to smoke, but he didn't return calls for comment by press time.) Peek over and you'll see tools of the trade: a hatchet next to a spray bottle. At night, the adjoining trees, which are home to at least one speedy cottontail, charmingly come alive with strings of lights.

However, the operation is far from tight, which can become pretty annoying. Beyond a lack of curiosity about fundamental restaurant facts, our servers at various times ignored us; passed us off to other employees before sitting down with a raucous table a few feet away; casually empathized over the eight flies buzzing first on the window next to us, then around our food; failed to drop, or notice the lack of, silverware, plates and napkins; and generally took a laissez-faire approach to our coming and going.

But, it being a TV-filled, sports-bar kind of place, maybe that's OK to the demographic. Plus, ultimately, outside of the generic fried foods — okra ($5.99), pickles ($5.99), mozzarella sticks ($6.99) and chicken strips ($6.99) — the smoked stuff at Fat Daddy's is worth the risk.

Actually, it's probably worth the risk of cursing Drew Brees to a Cajun just to down Kennedy's smoked chicken wings ($6.99), which come with a sweet-and-spicy rémoulade thing that's completely unnecessary — the crisp, pebbled skin yields to succulent, smoky meat you swear you could get drunk on.

Shredded pork is also impressively moist. Get it on the three-meat plate ($17.99), where your brisket might run fatty, under-smoked or just perfect; or your ribs, to my taste, a little soft at times, but with good bark at others. The flavor comes correct at all points, however, continuing with sauce-on sandwiches like the chopped beef ($4.99). Even the smoked baked beans and smoked macaroni-and-cheese taste stellar, though the latter gets a little mushy.

So forget about the fact that Fat Daddy's, like many restaurants before it, is seemingly randomly attached to a car wash in Briargate. If you want to call this Louisiana barbecue, I'm sold.

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