After hearing about Buck's over and over, iEat decided to check it out. This upper-NW establishment, despite its name, is NOT a shop for outdoorsy-type supplies. Sure, there is a overturned canoe resting on the wooden rafters, but that's just part of the fun decor.
J was surprised about the small menu, and seemed to fear for my life. Lest he forget that in my vegetarian days I spent (too) many dinners ordering appetizers as my meal, and am perfectly capable of and happy to revisit the method. Usually there are starter combinations that I actually prefer to real entrees. The entrees were oysters, a whole grilled fish o' the day, steak, and shrimp and grits. If there were mussels I would have been SET, but ah well.
The appetizers are mostly winners, the top pick DEFINITELY being the fried green tomatoes. They were super hot (VERY important in my book), not greasy, and perfectly crisped. I also LOVED the green herby sauce provided and definitely wish there was more of it. The iceberg wedge with bacon and blue cheese is a crowd pleaser, especially because there is a generous triangle of decadent blue cheese just hanging out on the plate. Neither of us were particular fans of the bread--it was cold, and aside from a somewhat mysterious hint of a smoky flavor, it lacked interestingness. Nevertheless, I used some crust to eat the rest of my blue cheese. The woodgrilled eggplant had a good flavor, but the breadcrumbs promised to me were stuck on the tomatoes, which, because of the sheer number of them, almost completely overpowered any hope of tasting eggplant. The dish should have been called BREADCRUMBS SPRINKLED ON A ZILLION TOMATOES, resting on two skinny index-finger-sized slices of eggplant.
J's steak was...huge. Seriously. "Take of $10 and serve half of this." His words, not mine. At a whopping $46, this huuuuge chunk of meat was served practically mooing, so if you are sick of people not serving you properly medium rare-cooked steaks, head to Buck's. Our server did warn us about the size of the steak, mostly to gauge whether or not the rareness would be an issue. The fries were AWESOME, I only wish that there were more of them.
The Very Good Chocolate Cake (I think that's what it was called?) was indeed Very Good. The combo of cold unsweetened whipped cream and warm chocolate sauce was a welcomed contrast, but we were too full to finish it.
The feel of Buck's is dark but warm, with lots of wood, cool glass lamps hanging overhead, and lots of curtains--I wondered aloud if anyone ever closed them to provide more privacy to their table (while also making their table look like a shower). We sat at the furthest end of the loooong communal table that occupies the middle of the dining room. Mid-meal, another couple was seated at the opposite end. Seems like a great table for a large group. For people who say that table is awkward, the only difference between Buck's and Central is that at Central the tables aren't connected--but you and your neighbor are sitting just as cozily. Our server at Buck's was friendly enough, but seemed inexperienced. Service was also pretty slow, considering the restaurant was not nearly full.
Overall, Buck's was fun. Although the options are somewhat limited, the food is tasty and comforting. It's likely that the menu changes subject to season and availability.
Buck's Fishing and Camping
5031 Connecticut Avenue NW
You should drive.