Editors' pick

Buck's Fishing & Camping

$$$$ ($25-$34)
Buck's Fishing & Camping photo
(Sean McCormick)

Editorial Review

2010 Spring Dining Guide

By Tom Sietsema
Sunday, May 23, 2010

Some diners heaved a sigh of relief last summer when they heard that Carole Greenwood had left the building. A talented chef, she could be a less than accommodating host, as anyone who ever dared ask for a substitution would tell me (and they did, with regularity). Initially, I was disheartened. Greenwood grilled one of the best steaks in the city and baked desserts that recalled yesteryear with delicious affection. But after eating at the arty, softly lighted Buck's under her replacement, Vickie Reh, all I can ask is: Where was Reh hiding all this time? The former sous-chef at Food Matters in Alexandria and a serious wine student (she tastes with some of the city's top sommeliers), Reh continues the tradition of a first-rate prime sirloin and great desserts. A personal plea: Bring back the tart lemon meringue pie, pretty please? Like her predecessor, Reh knows how to bring out the best in vegetables, pairing heirloom tomatoes with house-made cottage cheese and basil from her own garden, or warding off winter with a duo of salads featuring perfect diced beets and julienned carrots. But she's also doing her own thing. Tasty tortillas might hold lightly breaded catfish. Fresh lemon might zing a plump roast chicken, an entree that uses birds from EcoFriendly Foods in Virginia, raised to the chef's specifications. New to the menu: lower prices, snacks for sharing (dig the fried oysters and pork rillettes) and a hamburger, served with model fries, that could start another burger war in town. The food is serious, but the mood isn't. A Manhattan, glinting with ice, helps. So do red-checkered tablecloths. And fried onion rings dunked in a smoky mayonnaise. Count yourself lucky if you're led to the 20-foot-long communal poplar table that runs down the center of the room. It's the best seat in the house.