Since they opened their second location in the old Fuddrucker’s building near the intersection of Broad and Parham, we’ve been wanting to try Buz and Ned’s. So today, after standing outside a crowded Tae Kwon Do studio next door while my son got his red belt, I kept smelling the great aromas coming from Buz and Ned’s huge cookers next door. We gave it a try.
Sadly, we were underwhelmed.
The Boulevard location of Buz and Ned’s has been a Richmond favorite since they opened in 1992. I’ve heard nothing but good things from friends and family who have been there.
Maybe some of it can be chalked up to the fact that they’ve only been open in this location a little more than a month. So there’s no permanent sign. I’m sure it’s coming. So the table for the ice tea looks a little temporary. So, the tables are sticky. Wait. What?
After we placed our order and took our seat, we hoped a server would soon be by with a wet cloth because we were literally sticking to the table. Unfortunately when a server came by, who incidentally and also unfortunately did not turn out to be our server, told us that “he ordered the wrong sanitizer.” Apparently the sanitizer reacted with the polyurethane finish of the tables and they are all sticky and in need of re-sanding. Okay, things like that happen.
The interior is simple, brick walls, concrete floors and an industrial feeling. Somehow, they’ve opened it up and made it feel smaller than Fuddruckers. But it’s an okay atmosphere. On a night that’s less warm, we might have enjoyed the patio.
But, what about the food? The menu is on a huge chalkboard as you walk in. I saw some people holding more permanent menus, but I couldn’t figure out where they go them. You stand in line to order and pay, then give your name to the cashier. At your table, your server takes your ticket to identify your meal. Your server gets your name and it’s called out over a very loud intercom when it’s ready. Okay, that works.
Well, it works when they get your order right. My son got the beef brisket sandwich with fries and mac and cheese. No problem. He enjoyed it. I got the BBQ chicken sandwich. The meat and flavor were good, but not outstanding. My wife got the chicken skewers. She liked them, except for the fact that everything is served in plastic baskets with wax paper liners. With the chicken and the sauce she found out herself peeling paper off the chicken before she took a bite. When she casually mentioned that to our server, he said “oh, they’ll wash that off in the back.” Um, no, she meant that she was afraid of eating the paper.
The biggest mix up came with the side orders. My wife and I both ordered the cucumber and onion salad and the apples. My wife also ordered an extra side of hushpuppies for our family to share. When the meal came, my wife’s plate was correct. Mine, however, had the apples and the hushpuppies, but no salad.
It’s not so much that our waiter was clueless when we tried to explain what was wrong. It’s that he was rather belligerent in arguing with us. We finally got him to understand what was missing, but not before he brought a copy of our order receipt over and said “see it’s not on there.” To which I replied, “then they got it wrong.” He wasn’t really concerned about that nor was he going to do anything about it until we insisted. He finally agreed to bring me a salad and a container for us to move the hushpuppies from my plate to a convenient sharing place on the table. The salad came. The container never did so my wife got up and got it herself. Maybe taking it up with a manager would have made a difference. Maybe not.
While it wasn’t a bad meal, it wasn’t the greatest experience either. And, when I’m paying $42.00 for just three people, I expect better service, and maybe some real plates. There are other barbeque places in town where I can get that. And will next time.
Maybe Buz and Ned’s just needs some more time to get settled in to a new location. Sure they had to hire new staff and are in new surroundings. But after 20 years in one location, you’d think they’d be better prepared to expand.
Thankfully, Q is on my side of town.