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Buck and Honey's

In a word: Quaint and capable's.

The specs: #0675  
Address, hours & details via Isthmus; reviews at Mad City Eats, Madison Fish Fry, everydayrhinestones, Yelp, OpenTable, Trip Advisor, 77 Square, ; listing at Eat Drink Madison; official web site, Facebook, Buck & Honey's on Urbanspoon

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JM ate Buck's Chicken with a lemonade and a brownie sundae for dessert.
Josh ate the cioppino with a Sassy Trio of ice cream for dessert.
Nichole ate the anchovy pizza with pear tart for dessert.
Stef ate the Italian sausage pasta with a banana slamma for dessert.
We split a bottle of red wine (thank you, S&J!)
The bill was about $20/person, plus tip.
JM and Nichole gave Buck and Honey's a B+ (see our grading rubric).

We lost our sheet of notes and our favorite pen*, but Buck and Honey probably would have told us to just take it easy. The story the restaurant tells, of "simpler times," cozy family orientation (albeit in a rambling venue), and the value of friends who have extensive resources at hand, doesn't have room for our kind of geekery or detail-obsession. Plus, they have an arcade game that has over 100 classics in it. (Burger Time! Galaga! Joust!) The moral is - there's no moral. Dig in, be thankful, there's really good ice cream for dessert if you clean your plate.

The menu is vaguely Italian-American with a Dane County twist and lots of tuna. Seared rare ahi salad and an ahi app are popular, we were told, and they looked good but the red sauces were what we were in the mood for.

The anchovy pizza was more than decent by half. Bone-free bite-sized fish came in just enough cheese and sauce to not ruin a thin crust.

Anchovy pizzaPizza crust

The cioppino was a large bowl of rice with diced tomatoes and herbs with various seafood in between. Tuna, a couple shrimp, and a line of mussel sentries around the edge filled it out.

The Italian sausage pasta was somewhat less filling, and oddly arty in its presentation with an obelisk of white bread rising out of a generously sauced pile of penne. The dish was spicy-hot with red pepper flakes, balanced by ribbons of a mild, hard, white cheese.

Buck's chicken, a deconstructed take on a chicken sandwich, followed a standard iceberg mix salad. Sauteed mushrooms and onions simply lay next to a chicken breast topped with Swiss cheese and shoestring-fried onions, with BBQ sauce on the side. The skin-on mashed potatoes wanted only salt. It was yummy without being too filling.

CioppinoSausage pastaSaladBBQ chicken

Dessert was hit or miss; the pear tart was on special but if the always-on apple verision is made with the same raised, yet heavy, batter cake, pass it up for the ice cream. The brownies were mere garnish for the vanilla ice cream on top.

The pastry-rolled, deep-fried banana was the only thing that approached parity with the ice cream. Stef always tries anything banana-foster-like on a menu, and called the Banana Slamma one of the best banana desserts she's had. A halved banana was perfectly fried in puff pastry, wasn't overly greasy, and kept its  firm texture. It was served over vanilla ice cream.

We all eyed Josh's Sassy Trio of ice cream, which today was chocolate, vanilla and orange sherbet, with wistfulness.

Did we mention the ice cream? It's Sassy Cow. It's the best. Get it - Buck and Honey would approve.

Pear tart with orange sherbetBrownie sundaeBananas

*It was a damn fine pen, too. Hefty, silver, the kind that you twist to sheath and unsheath, black ink, with an insurance company logo on the side of the top half opposite the pocket clip. And it was a gift. It's been lost before but this time we think it's gone for good.

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