Saturday, December 15, 2007


Well, I went to Buck's Fishing and Camping last night, and maybe I need someone to explain it to me. This is supposed to be one of the best restaurants in the city (per Don Rockwell, no less), and I just don't get it.

When you come right down to it I guess I'm a little dubious of comfort food as a haute restaurant concept. Not that there's anything wrong with shrimp and grits, barbecued duck, fried oysters, and so on, but dammit, if I'm going to pay Buck's prices, I want to be bowled over, stunned by the chef's ability and imagination. I could tell right off that wasn't going to happen. It's very unusual for me to go into a restaurant as hungry as I was last night and not immediately see two or three dishes I want to try. What's worse, there was nothing on the menu--really, nothing--that I couldn't make myself. That's a really bad sign.

Since my very cute and friendly waitress recommended the grilled whole branzino with a "winter salad" of baby greens and hazelnuts, I had that. I also had the deviled eggs, figuring (in my innocence) that for seven bucks they must have some cool interesting twist, because no chef would serve plain old church-supper deviled eggs at her high-profile expensive restaurant, right?

Well, the joke was on me, because that's exactly what they were. Both of them. That's right, seven bucks for two eggs. These people are killing on their food cost ratio.

The fish was beautifully done, crisp and flaky and tender, and if you get one yourself, rub it with olive oil, stuff it with sprigs of rosemary and thyme and a slice of lemon, and grill it for maybe 10 minutes per inch of thickness, you can see what it was like for yourself. The salad was very nice, absolutely the best part of the meal. Nothing spectacular, but very nice.

Which probably is the secret of the appeal of the place. It's upscale ordinary. It's a "fine dining" place where nothing will disturb or challenge you. There are no fancy highfalutin dishes you've never heard of before, no fancy ingredients with odd names (well, except for the branzino, but it's not even called that on the menu, it's a "grilled whole fish"). No wonder the place is so consistently packed.

I can't remember the last time I was so flat-out bored by a restaurant. And I'm still pissed off about those damned eggs.


Ed Bruske said...

Since no one cooks at home anymore, it should be pretty easy to bowl them over with food that looks just like it was cooked at home. Who's to know?

Rob said...

Seriously. Nobody who's even a mediocre cook would be impressed by this place. It's like the Colonnade in Atlanta, only three times as expensive and with more attractive waitstaff.

An Briosca Mor said...

From what I've read of this place, and its sister pizza establishment called Comet Ping Pong, the chef has a reputation for prickliness (to put it mildly). So perhaps the experience is intended to be more of a street theater or a performance art thing rather than fine dining, and you totally missed your opportunity. Maybe your order should have gone something like this instead:

I'll start with the deviled eggs. You say there's two of them? Well, I need to save room for dessert, so could I get just one and a half instead? And could you make them with EggBeaters, 'cause I'm watching my cholesterol?

Now, for the entree, that fish sounds good, but I worry about the mercury. So, since I'm on Atkins anyway, could you just fry up a couple of Steak Umms with the same herb mixture instead?

And you say your special is a
salad? Never been a big fan. But hey, you're a cutie. Did I see you dancing at Camelot the other day? No? Y'sure about that? 'Cause y'know, I never forget a face. Although I'm not really lookin' at the faces when I'm at Camelot, y'know what I mean?

I think the deal might be that when you order like this, hilarity ensues, like on the Soup Nazi episode of Seinfeld. That kind of experience might be worth the money you're paying, rather than the food.

Di said...

Comet is right next doors to Buck's, and I've never understood the allure of playing ping-pong outside... a light breeze and your ball will go soaring right into Connecticut Ave.

Every time I've tried to go to Buck's it's been closed... and I've never even seen people entering and leaving. I thought it had closed!

Anonymous said...

I'm amazed by the comment by an briosca mor! Hey, you're a riot! :)