Sunday, November 15, 2009

Buck's Camping

With our friends Jeremy and Jennifer, we tried to visit the new bistro Acacia, conveniently down the street from our house, only to find to our dismay that it was closed on Sundays. We'll have to try another time and will give you a full report. Meanwhile, we decided against the old standbys in Cleveland Park and went up to Buck's, which Jeremy and Jen had been wanting to try. We hadn't been to Buck's in about 18 months...our last visit was memorable for a wonderful white gazpacho and generally enjoyable, so I'm not sure exactly why we haven't been back since, but we were happy with the idea.

The room was about half full when we entered a bit after 7, although most of that was occupied by an enormous birthday party. We were seated promptly and courteously. Service following was quite prompt and attentive, if not exactly warm. The menu is very short...five or six "snacks", a couple of steaks, fish tacos, and Sunday night specials which this Sunday night were turkey and white bean chili (with or without salad) and ribs. Not a lot for a vegetarian (Jennifer) but as usual she managed with a salad and some toasted almonds for a snack.

I opted for the ribs and Michael and Jeremy went for the turkey chili. We finally managed to select a wine from a very interesting and unusual, fairly priced list...we went for a Vouvray which was a good choice, nicely minerally without being mouth-dryingly acid.

Afterward Michael reported that the chili ($16 with salad) was "ok" but not exciting. The portion, attractively served in a metal camping-style bowl, seemed a bit skimpy. My ribs ($21 with potato salad) was a half rack. They were beautifully cooked and very tender. The sauce was a bit overly tangy for my taste and could have been commercial. The portion, like with the chili, left me wanting more, and I don't mean that in a good way. The salad consisted of a large portion of very fresh and tasty mixed greens, very (as in barely) dressed with some sort of lemon dressing. The quality of the greens was flawless.

Oddly, there was no mention of dessert on the menu nor were we asked whether we wanted coffee or anything else. The main courses were delivered, eaten, and removed and we then sat until we asked for the check. Given the small size of the portions, dessert would have been welcome.

All in all, not a meal that is likely to make us enthusiastic about a return visit any time soon. The food was tasty but not exceptional and the prices were fair. But portions were small and service largely unsmiling. I have heard the chef/owner, Carole Greenwood, has a reputation for being a little eccentric and this seemed to be consistent with that.

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