Here we have a bit of a shift of gears from our dinner at La Ferme in Chevy Chase.
In our continuing exploration of Southern Maryland restaurants, Michael Boyd, my son-in-law, and I decided to go out for a burger and some wings while the ladies went to see the film, Lyle, Lyle Crocodile. We settled on Buckets Bar and Grill, a local sports bar with an enthusiastic local following. It can’t hurt to check out a place before taking the little ones along.
The biggest problem on your first trip to Buckets may be finding it. I drove past it on the first try. I saw a blur of beer signs one the verge of the road
and what appeared, as I drove by, to be a mini-market set back from the road.
I assumed that Buckets was on down the road. Bowing to the greater wisdom of my GPS, I turned around and went back. Sure enough, there was Buckets occupying the rear half of the building.
I drove in and parked, and we entered.
Buckets is indeed a bar, very much a bar. It’s dimly lit, with a good bit of the illumination coming from the many TV sets and neon signs. There were tables of people enjoying lunch, a table of two couples with four small children, and a leaven of day drinkers. It’s roomy place, with a mix of booths, high top tables, and stools at the bar. Michael and I chose the bar stools. We sat down, and Michael ordered a draft Yuengling. I saw a Dogfish Head tap and asked, “60 or 90 minute Dogfish Head?” The bartender said, “Pumpkin Pie Spice” with a grimace. I shuddered and said “Yuengling.”
We got our beers and checked the menu. It turned out to be far more extensive than we had imagined. I subsequently learned on their Facebook page that Buckets has been upgraded, with a sophisticated cocktail menu. (They have a spray bottle of vermouth for martinis.) And the food options are much more extensive than before. In addition to wings, burgers, and pizzas, there are several entrees, a number of salads, and a wide assortment of sandwiches and subs. In addition to the predictable options, there was a muffuletta, a Cuban, and a Chicago beef, all totally unexpected. There was even a vegetarian sub. Is nothing sacred?
We started with a small order of wings (10 wings), traditional Buffalo with blue cheese rather than Ranch.
The wings were well cooked and nicely sauced. They were very tasty, but you can get tasty wings at a lot of places. What you can’t get anywhere else, as far as I know, is real blue cheese. Everyone has blue cheese dressing, generally with a few lumps of actual blue cheese. Buckets kicks it up a whole bunch of notches with a very lightly whipped blue cheese, and a good blue cheese at that. Just look at it. It’s great. It utterly transforms the wing experience.
After agonizing over the burger vs sandwich issue, we decided to split both a muffuletta
and a Cuban sandwich.
The muffuletta was very tasty. It wasn’t a New Orleans muffuletta, the bread and the relish were both very different, but it tasted quite good. The meat filling was good quality and well selected for balanced and pronounced flavors. I don’t know where you can get a better one within a few hundred miles.
The Cuban sandwich was good, with good texture and flavor, but it was more a good sandwich than a good Cuban sandwich. The mojo was barely there and the sour orange was missing. It was a nice sandwich, but not one of the great Cuban knock-your-socks-off sandwiches.
As you can see, one sandwich had fries and the other onion rings, and we split those as well. The picture tells the story of the onion rings. Overcooked. We could have sent them back, I suppose, but neither of us needed the extra food. The French fries were excellent, and there were plenty for both of us. They had a seasoned crust, one that actually formed a crust, and a good soft-textured center with potato flavor.
All in all it was a fine lunch, and Michael and I plan to go back and try the burgers. It’ll probably just be the two of us. The bartender was nice, and maintained good cheer while she struggled with an unexpectedly busy lunch hour. Everyone is understaffed these days — The cause, I presume, of the overcooked onion rings — and I admire people who can stay pleasant in the face of stress. And at least one of the customers had an entertaining gift for metaphor. If you haven’t been, you should give Buckets a try. And let me know how their pizzas are.
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