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We all shared a thickly dressed, teeth-gratingly sweet apple salad and moved on to our main courses. Bob thought he'd scored another prize with his tender ribeye steak, generously slathered with a Jack Daniel's barbecue sauce. Lou Jane dug her claws into the shrimp combo platter. Half of the fried crustaceans were covered with a crunchy (and sugary) coconut crust; the others were more plainly breaded and fryer-dunked. "I can't remember the last time I ate a plate of French-fried shrimp," she said.
Probably the same day she last played skee ball, I thought as I nibbled on my grilled havarti-cheese-and-pesto sandwich, which didn't taste half as good as it sounded on the menu.
The dessert tray is nearly as large as a Tilt-a-Whirl and artfully arranged with shiny plastic reproductions of the featured Dave & Buster's desserts. The real edible sweets are all made in some big commissary somewhere, but they arrive in Wyandotte County looking very pretty. We shared a slab of the chocolate silk pie and a slice of the fudgy layer cake, along with one of D&B's "signature" desserts: a basket of freshly made doughnut holes, dusted with sugar and served warm with two little plastic cups of dipping sauces, chocolate and mixed berry.
"They don't taste like they were just fried," Lou Jane noted after biting into one of the pastry balls. "Maybe they just microwaved them."
So our meal that night didn't win any culinary prizes. It was satisfying enough, even imaginative in a couple of cases. But it didn't set off any bells and whistles, mostly because the menu was heavily influenced by other midrange, casual chain restaurants, especially T.G.I. Friday's.
A couple of days later, I returned with Rich and Judy. We sat in the less glamorous area off the bar so Judy could puff on cigarettes between the gloppy Caesar salads and our dinners. While she smoked, Rich and I pondered a strange black box that sat on the table. "It's the speaker for all the TV screens in the room," explained our server, pointing out a volume knob and a button that could be punched to display an array of digits. When I asked how many TV screens were in the joint, she just shrugged. "A lot."
Judy had hoped for a ribeye but, alas, another server came out to deliver the bad news that they were out of ribeyes that night. She settled on a peppercorn sirloin, which came out sizzling hot, topped with a spoonful of salty Boursin cheese and a jumble of fried onions. Judy thought it was very good, particularly after she scraped everything off the beef.
Rich, who has a weakness for cheeseburgers, couldn't resist the temptation of "Dave's Cheeseburger Cheeseburger," a double-stacked burger with American cheese and mesquite-pepper seasonings. He eats his meat well-done, so I thought the burger was flavorless but he liked it. At our server's suggestion, I ordered a bowl of linguini dripping with a mildly seasoned "Cajun Alfredo" sauce heaped with chunks of blackened chicken, mushrooms and chopped tomatoes. It wasn't bad (even if fettuccine Alfredo's creator, Alfredo Di Lelio, is probably spinning in his grave) but it needed a little something. Like a Philly cheesesteak eggroll.