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Dining Dad: The Buckeye Tavern, Macungie

The family goes Pennsylvania Dutch

After a few weeks of hot dogs and fast (but tasty bakery eats), this week, we went a little upscale. I mean, just because you have kids doesn’t mean you have to give up your desire to eat at a place with tablecloths and French food you can’t pronounce, right?

Waving my “parent’s are grownups too” flag high, I bundled the entire posse into the car and headed (on a tip from a reader) to the Buckeye Tavern in Macungie for a taste.

Parking:

It was a dark and stormy night…So DD missed the parking lot the first time around. But once we got to the right place (thanks to my co-pilot/wife) the parking is good. Loads of it, and right next to the door.

 

Family Perks:

#1 The service-Some of the best service I’ve had with kids at a high-end (ish) restaurant. Our server had the Holy Grail combo of talking directly to the oldest child, cooing at the baby, and keeping our drinks filled and food coming out.

#2 The baby food-Yes, you heard that right, the baby food. We went on “Pennsylvania Dutch” night (no, we didn’t eat the stuffed pig stomach), and one of the sides was mashed sweet potatoes. We ordered an extra side of sweet potatoes for the baby, and our server suggested we just make it one of our sides since the portions were huge. Bonus! Honest server!

 

So What Did We Eat?

Appetizers: The Appetizer Sampler, Chicken Fingers, Mozzarella Sticks, Onion Rings, and Potato Skins

Put the word “sampler” with the word “appetizer”, and you can be guaranteed that our family will order it. Oldest child likes crunchy, wife likes cheesy, and I like all of it. The sampler came quickly, which is always appreciated.

The chicken fingers were lightly breaded and could have been a meal unto themselves and came with a overly sweet honey mustard sauce that made my oldest shudder as we “forced” (re: suggested, but in kid-speak) him to try it.

The potato skins were a step up from the TGI Friday’s version, but not really my thing to begin with. The bacon to cheese ratio seemed a little off, according to my wife.

Onion rings were light and crunchy, with a beer batter rather than breaded. Breaded leads to an oil to shirt transfer with oldest kid, so we walked away with less laundry.

The mozzarella sticks became a vehicle for the simply divine tomato sauce. We put the sauce on all the sampler items. A little spicy, very chunky, and just great!

We also ordered a beer with out meal, which was great. The server suggested we try samples of beers we weren’t familiar with to pick one, which was great.

 

Entrees: Chicken Pot Pie, Black Diamond Steak

As I said before, we went on a Monday, aka “Pennsylvania Dutch” night. Try as I might, I couldn’t convince my wife to get pig’s stomach. She did agree, however, to get the chicken potpie. I’m used to a pie crust with a cream-based sauce as the vehicle for loads of veggies and chicken. What came to the table was a giant soup bowl with a pastry round floating on a lighter, soupier base. I have to say, while I’m a convert to the pastry crust version, I missed the thick sauce. The flavor was all right, but I could have used a little punch.

The reader who suggested the Buckeye also suggested the steak. So I was really looking forward to this steak. And out it came. The steak was good, with a nice flavor on the outside. But skirt steak is a fickle mistress. If not loved properly, it can be stringy and chewy, which is why it’s normally braised for a long time and sliced against the grain, ala fajitas. A chunk of skirt steak is not going to be a tender easy cut-through. Adjust your expectations if you’re ordering the skirt steak.

 

Sides: Steamed broccoli, baked potato, salad with hot bacon dressing, mashed sweet potatoes (see below)

The sides were tremendous portions and I’m glad the server warned us against getting extras. The broccoli kept its crunch and was fine. The baked potato was oven roasted in foil, not much to talk about here. The salad with bacon dressing was new to me, so I can’t really say if this is what to expect. First off it was hot. Hot dressing? Is this how the PA Dutch eat it? Second, it was like liquid sugar with bacon bits. Now, I’m a fan of bacon in chocolate, bacon in ice cream. Heck, I’ve had bacon on a stick dipped in syrup, but this was waaaaay sweet.

 

Kids menu: mashed sweet potatoes, Pop Pop’s pizza

We used one of our sides for the baby, since sweet potatoes are his thing. And he did eat some of it. Mr. Cranky-pants took a few mouthfuls of his beloved sweet potatoes, eyed me like I was trying to poison him, and screamed bloody murder. The sweet potatoes do have the normal syrup or brown sugar infusion (don’t worry dentists, it was a dollop of potato and primarily baby cereal and milk) but it turns out that the addition of cinnamon and perhaps nutmeg was, shall we say, unwelcome with baby. So worries, we came with baby offerings.

Pop Pop’s pizza got a solid review from the larger child. The crust looked good, the toppings seemed fresh, and the sauce seemed to be a direct relative of the earlier dipping sauce. But with such an extensive menu, why would the Buckeye only offer fries and salad (Mac and cheese had applesauce) as kid’s sides? And while fries and pizza would have been a hit, we once again forced our drama king to eat veggies. C’mon Buckeye, how about a steamed veggie option for kids too?

 

Total Bill: 57.56 + tip =1 appetizer, 2 adult meals, 1 kid meal, 1 beer

 

 Parking/ Perks: 3.5 out of 4 stars. Good parking, attentive service, easy to navigate aisles.

Grown-up Food Review: 3 out of 4 stars. Huge portions, solid offerings. But lacked a little flavor in some offerings and unremarkable sides.

Kids Food Options: 2.5 out of 4 stars. Few options, even fewer sides, but the flavor worked for our kid, and he loved the onion rings at the beginning.

DAD KINDA DIGS IT!

3 OUT OF 4 STARS

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