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Love her or hate her, Carole Greenwood is a kitchen talent as inseparable from the Buck’s Fishing & Camping brand as Michael Landrum is to the Ray’s empire. Or so I thought. It turns out that Buck’s is a concept flexible enough to accommodate multiple visions of it. Vickie Reh, a former sous-chef at Food Matters in Alexandria, is now the chef at Buck’s, and her menu fits comfortably into the original vision for the place: rustic American food prepared with seasonal ingredients. The revamped Buck’s carries few traces of Greenwood’s old tastes save for the wedge salad and the signature slab of dry-aged prime sirloin steak, whose retention was a smart move. I would have called for a military tribunal had Reh killed off that gorgeously charred piece of meat, intensified through time, seasoning, and the hot, smoky flames of a wood grill. Indeed, the grill flavors many of my favorites at Buck’s, whether the trout-spread “snack” or whatever veggie happens to be featured on the seasonal menu. I’d even go so far as to say that Reh has an uncommon command over fire and smoke. Take her wood-grilled lamb. You can almost taste the New Zealand grasses through the char. That’s a trick I’m not sure I ever witnessed from the great Greenwood.
5031 Connecticut Ave. NW (202) 364-0777
Photo by Darrow Montgomery