When I signed up for an Instagram account, I did it for sharing photos among a few friends who were not on Facebook. Over the months, I started getting requests not only from other foodies and food bloggers, but also from a few restaurants. When I received a request from Buck’s in Chicago’s Wicker Park and I started seeing their photos, I realized that I had a drool problem. I had two options: keep a handkerchief at hand in case I pulled up a photo by Buck’s or go to the restaurant and see if it was drool-worthy.
I met with my former flatmate and a mutual friend at the restaurant, at 1700 W. Division Street. After a brief deja vu, it dawned on me that Buck’s had taken up residence in what was once Carriage House. Having never been to Carriage House, I only hoped that Buck’s would be a better replacement.
After looking at the menu that we were thankful wasn’t a booklet, we settled on a bucket of chicken, a few sides, biscuits, and liquid love. Buck’s has a bit of a comfort food effect, which lends itself well with the whole atmosphere of the restaurant. Nothing is fancy, but if you were to close your eyes, you would certainly think the food was chic-chic. For instance, the macaroni and cheese was not Kraft macaroni and cheese. This version was creamy instead of cheesy. Whatever else they did to the recipe resulted in us getting another order of it.
In keeping with the whole Southern concept, we had an order of collard greens. They were good and tender, but seemingly had a bit more vinegar in the recipe than our palates were accustomed to. Unlike some restaurants that use smoked turkey or ham hocks in their greens, these came without those meats to flavour. We devoured them just the same.
Where Buck’s makes the grade are with the biscuits. I won’t rattle off the cliché that no one bakes biscuits as good as my grandmother and since my mother doesn’t bake biscuits, I certainly can’t use her as a disclaimer for baking the best biscuits ever. What I will say is that I used to have a craving for Popeye’s biscuits to the point of going to any Popeye’s location for an order of a few biscuits and red beans and rice. I will now make Buck’s my go-to location for biscuits until I perfect them in my own kitchen. The biscuits at Buck’s were so good that all we could do was hum.
Then there was the main reason we went. Fried chicken brought to the table hot from the grease — but not greasy. We had nine pieces and none of them were of the puny or growth enhance variety. While I would have indulged the chicken in spicy fashion, my friends were more for regular. Nevertheless, it was seasoned well enough that there was no need for kick in each bite. And the spritzers we all had with the right amount of alcohol in them made it all right. And by the way, I ordered some spicy for take-away and it was worth it.
Buck’s feels very much like a pub — for those who have ever experienced British pubs. It’s not a sports bar at all, but a space for gathering, having fun, and enjoying some damn good comfort food. You get table service and what we received was as good as what I’ve had at any restaurant with white table cloths. I have yet to meet the social media person who started following me on Instagram but I must say to whoever it is, “Your photos got me hooked and the actual visits — there have been several more since — have me drooling with a foodie addiction, and I’m okay with that.”