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Buckhead's is not an every night kind of place, but it's a great choice for a special celebratory dinner.

A Nice Night Out

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Believe it or not, until two weeks ago I'd never been to . I wasn't shunning it for its shopping-center location or carnivorous slant — I just hadn't gotten there yet. Now that I've been, I know what I've been missing and it can be summed up quite easily: awesome service, fabulous food. But I'll give you a few more details.

We had a reservation for 8:30 p.m. on a Saturday night and were seated within two minutes of arrival. With menus in hand, we glanced around at the environs and discovered several buck heads hanging on the walls. Low lighting and cozy seating give it a Greenwich Village chophouse feel, especially with red-and-white checked tablecloths and pine paneling stained a rich walnut hue. Tables are set with linen napkins and steak knives emblazoned with the restaurant's logo on the blades.

Most striking about the décor are the walls and walls and walls of bottles of wine — more than 700, our waiter estimated. This makes choosing one bottle from the six pages of wines featured in the menu a challenge. There are oversized bottles for $1,200 and budget bottles for $19. Our trusty waiter finally helped us make a selection, a $24 bottle of Rhone Lirac, and we did not regret the choice. Fortunately, the dinner menu is smaller. Appetizers include escargot, soups, portobello mushrooms and Bottomless Pitt's pick, shrimp cocktail.

Four chilled jumbo specimens are served with either remoulade or cocktail sauce (BP chose remoulade). The shrimp were plump and flavorful, and the herby remoulade was a nice switch from cocktail sauce.

[image-1](Stacy Warner / richmond.com)Entrees come with salads. I chose the Caesar, a traditionally prepared plate dressed with the usual concoction that was, perhaps, a bit too anchovy-ish for my liking, but I applaud the bold approach — most Caesar dressings these days skip the fish. B.P. had the mixed greens salad that was garnished with the requisite cherry tomato and cuke, nothing special, but greatly enhanced by his choice of bleu cheese dressing. Fresh-baked bread and whipped butter kept us happy during the short wait between salad and dinner.

Though all of the entree options sounded divine — salmon, soft shell crabs, steaks of many varieties, shrimp, etc., all priced in the $25 area — I chose a lamb chop special (which I later found out was a whopping $34).

Yes, it was expensive, but, yes, it was the most wonderfully seasoned and grilled lamb I've had in ages. Hints of rosemary and a perfect medium-rare temperature made this a culinary treat the likes of which I haven't tasted in a while. I reluctantly traded a few bites with B.P., who was supremely satisfied with his 11-oz. filet, a 1*-inch-thick cut that could nearly be sliced with the side of a fork it was so tender. We both chose the Buckhead's special potato cakes (seasoned with nutmeg and maybe a tad too much black pepper) over the plain old baked potato, and we shared a generous side of fresh asparagus served with hollandaise. Sautéed green beans and baby carrots were served with our entrees.

As if we hadn't had enough, we ordered a slice of key lime pie. It was a nice creamy and tart finish to a great dining experience. We could have chosen from the extensive menu of after-dinner drinks — but frankly we couldn't conceive of consuming another thing.

Buckhead's is definitely not an every night kind of place, but it's truly one of the best places for a special dinner in terms of service and quality of offerings. Our waiter answered umpteen questions with enthusiasm, did not rush us and unobtrusively removed courses and replaced them with others. The atmosphere is quiet and relaxing, with Frank Sinatra crooning somewhere in the background. What more could you ask of what my grandmother would call "a nice night

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