Buckley’s Tavern, Centreville, Delaware – A Review

by artfuldiner on August 27, 2013

in Artful Diner Review, Review, Wining and Dining

Buckley’s Tavern

5812 Kennett Pike

Centreville, DE 19807

(302) 656-9776


After taking in all that art at the Brandywine River Museum (as noted in yesterday’s post just below), your stomach may be telling you it’s time to ingest a bit of physical sustenance. If that’s the case, just five miles away, in the tiny hamlet of Centreville, Delaware, you will find Buckley’s Tavern, a great place to enjoy lunch, dinner, or a leisurely afternoon snack & liquid libation.

Buckley’s, which I’ve mentioned on previous occasions, has a rather interesting history. A popular happy-tappy and dining spot for decades, it closed its doors on January 15, 2012. The locals mourned – this writer included. Fortunately, however, it reopened under new ownership on Tuesday, October 30, 2012, after undergoing 3 million dollars’ worth of renovations. The changes are striking; the entire restaurant is brighter, beautifully appointed, and yet still manages to maintain its original rustic charm. The tavern is especially attractive, sporting comfortable booths, high-top tables & chairs, and a cozy three-sided bar.

The big difference, however, is the food. Under the previous administration, the “pub grub” was always passable, though hardly the stuff of which memories are made. But with the new ownership, it has obviously taken several giant steps forward. And since one of the partners, Tom Hannum, is the former executive chef at the Hotel du Pont, you can be certain that the quality of the cuisine here is taken seriously.

Appetizers include many of the usual suspects… but with a number of interesting twists. The crispy calamari, for example, isn’t teamed with the usual marinara; rather, it is presented with a pungent cilantro aioli and pickled red onion. Then, of course, you have the first-rate panko-crusted onion rings… But forget the ketchup, these are companioned by a zippy red curry dipping sauce.

But if you’re just in the mood to share a mid-afternoon snack, the roasted garlic hummus served up with pita chips and dollop of garlicky pesto is an excellent choice. Even better, though, is the incredibly delicious – and photogenic – tomato bruschetta mix. This includes perfectly crunchy French bread crostini circumscribing generous portions of seasoned chopped tomatoes, honey goat cheese, and more of that absolutely dynamite pesto. This luscious combination of flavors & textures is both cleverly conceived and artfully presented. Highly recommended.

For a light lunch, Buckley’s presents a number of greeneries that are certainly worth considering. The house salad combines mixed greens, grape tomato halves, and cucumbers with a choice of dressing. Feel free to add either grilled chicken or salmon. There is also the ubiquitous Caesar, as well as a highly recommended Greek salad that incorporates kalamata olives, feta cheese, and a lemon-herb vinaigrette. The top of the line, however, is undoubtedly the crab Cobb salad, presented on a bed of mixed greens embellished with portions of lump crabmeat, chopped egg, bacon, avocado, tomatoes, and red onion. An excellent ranch dressing is served on the side.

On the other hand, if you’re craving something a bit heartier, the sandwich/burger route has a great deal to recommend it. The chicken salad, for example, contains tender chunks of white meat combined with walnut morsels & dried cranberries bathed in a tantalizingly spicy mayo-curry dressing.  This generous apportionment is then stuffed between layers of a huge flaky croissant. You’re not likely to go hungry. And the same may be said for the hot pastrami – lean slices, caramelized onions, Gruyère cheese, and coleslaw all tucked between thick slices of marble rye.

I’ve sampled both of the above, and they are excellent. On the other hand… call me old-fashioned, if you will, but I think I still prefer Buckley’s version of the turkey club. Here you have slices of house-roasted white meat turkey breast, applewood smoked bacon, and lettuce & tomato arranged between three slices of gently toasted white bread. Perhaps its taste memories of childhood, but there’s just something incredibly comforting about digging into this classic triple-decker. However, in lieu of the traditional mayonnaise, the chef has substituted an irresistible tarragon aioli, which propels this presentation into an entirely new dimension.

Last, but certainly not least in the sandwich department, we have the Buckley burger. Yes, I know… Every hash house, greasy spoon, and fast-food chain going turns out a version of the great American hamburger… What’s so special about this one? What’s so special is not its uniqueness but the quality of its ingredients. For starters, it’s 100 percent sirloin; then we have a blanket of sharp English farmhouse cheddar, strips of applewood smoked bacon, lettuce, tomato & red onion all wrapped in a soft brioche bun. And it arrives cooked to a perfect medium, precisely as ordered, accompanied by a gaggle of fabulous hand-cut beach fries. An additional plus… the leftover portion is just as flavorful the next day – either heated up or cold – which is quite a feat, indeed. I rarely order a burger out… but I’d certainly order this one again.

From 5:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m., Buckley’s also serves up its “Large Plates” and “House Specialties.” These include items such as fried chicken with mashed potatoes, grilled 10-ounce NY sirloin steak, pan-seared salmon with dill cream sauce, and various stir fries. Of particular note is macaroni and cheese casserole with roasted tomato jam. A bit on the bland side, but still quite good. After numerous visits, the only entrée that left us disappointed was the fish and chips. The malt vinegar aioli was wonderful… ditto the hand-cut fries. The batter on the fish was very good… although quite greasy, and the fish itself was decidedly mushy.

One final note: If you’ll pardon the obvious pun… “Everybody comes to Buckley’s.” And I do mean everybody! In the parking lot, it’s not at all unusual to see old pickup trucks sharing space with the latest luxury cars. This place is the great social leveler. It was always popular with a wide-ranging clientele, but especially so since the change in ownership and extensive renovations. Reservations are accepted for the restaurant’s two dining rooms; the tavern, patios, and roof top dining areas are first come, first served.

Bon Appétit!


{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: