Buck’s Fishing and Camping, Chevy Chase

I’ve been to Buck’s Fishing and Camping probably two dozen times since it opened in 2003, but never have I had a meal as poor as the one this past Saturday evening (*).

At 9 PM, the restaurant was surprisingly crowded, even for a Saturday night. I walked past the kitchen twice and peeked in the window, and did not see chef Vickie Reh either time (although I did see 5-6 people in there; when Carole Greenwood was cooking, you’d often see only 2-3).

The service, despite many of the employees having worked here for years, was lacking, with the server often chatting with the person working the host stand rather than surveying the dining room.

A 2009 Fabrice Gaunier Chinon “Les Graves” was served too warm, and perhaps because of its youth, came across as dilute and thin, barely identifiable as a Loire Cabernet Franc.

Three appetizers were all failures. Warm Cheese Fondue ($6) was just awful – warm, not hot, granular in places, and based nastily on a blue cheese. With slices of industrial-tasting baguette for dipping. It was as bad as any fondue I’ve ever eaten (NB I’ve never been to The Melting Pot).

Rosemary Roasted Almonds and Spicy Pumpkin Seeds ($3) seemed like they’d be a perfect foil for a fondue and a Chinon, but they weren’t; they needed a higher almond-to-pumpkin-seed ratio for crunch, and there was too much peanut-skin texture running about.

Worst of all, at least for the price, was the Roasted Marrow Bones ($12) with grilled toast, roasted garlic, and a little parsley-shallot salad. Twelve dollars for one bone, cut in half lengthwise, each half containing about one rounded teaspoon of marrow. The salad was extremely overdressed, with glots of lemon flavor dominating the entire dish. There was one clove of roasted garlic on the plate.

At the end of the meal (and I ended the meal at this point), there were precisely eleven (11) pieces of bad bread, in three different forms, left on the table. Buck’s has always had very mediocre bread, inexplicably.

So why such a terrible night for Buck’s? A hypothesis:

(*) Someone told me, while I was midway through writing this, that Buck’s had a Groupon offer last weekend. This might easily explain everything. I’m not saying it excuses it; merely that it might explain it. I also wish I had known: not because I would have used it, but because I would have gone elsewhere.

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