Southern food in Rhode Island? That may not seem to make sense until one takes a visit to Bucktown featuring fast casual Southern style food. As a lover of good Southern comfort food, I knew I needed to take a trip to Bucktown and give it a try. One fact I’ve noticed, however, is that places serving up Southern food (like BBQ, Soul, or fried food) in the Northeast all tend to throw a slightly different spin on their takes. It’s important to keep that in mind when trying restaurants featuring food made famous in other regions of the country.
471 W Fountain St.
Providence, RI 02903
Service and Atmosphere
Bucktown is a smaller restaurant on the west side of Providence with a clean casual interior. Patrons order items from the large mounted menu at the counter where they can also sit. There are a few high top communal tables as well. The friendly service is easygoing, which matches the comfortable atmosphere where shared tables bring to mind Southern community and hospitality.
Much of the food at Bucktown is fried, which is a delicious choice, but also one that means a filling meal is in store for diners. Many might think that fried food is all the same, but Southern fried food does have a specific style and quality. In order to get a solid sampling of what Bucktown has to offer, I tried the hush puppies, an oyster po boy (a bite of a shrimp po boy too), and a couple of side dishes.
Hush Puppies – The first thing I noticed about the hush puppies at Bucktown were that they closely resembled Rhode Island’s own clam cakes. The big difference is that hush puppies are made with cornmeal as well as some wheat flour and may include items like scallions, peppers, or even cheese. The hush puppies at Bucktown were nicely solid without being too dense or oily and remained crispy on the outside. They’re served piping hot from the fryer with a side of whipped honey butter. They contained a little spice from peppers and went really well with the sweet honey butter, but also with the Crystal brand hot sauce on the table that’s so popular around New Orleans.
Oyster Po’ Boy – I’m always skeptical of po boys because anyone that’s had a truly good one can easily differentiate an impostor. A po boy is more than just some fried or roasted protein in a sandwich. The ingredients and toppings matter, but the bread is possibly the most important thing about a po boy. Bucktown serves a modestly sized po boy. It’s a decent sized sandwich by most definitions, but on the smaller side for a true Southern po boy. The oysters were perfectly fried and maintained a nice crunch. The mayo and pickles along with the lettuce and tomato were definitely reminiscent of the simple toppings of a good po boy. I tasted the shrimp po boy as well and I probably prefer the shrimp to the oyster, but that’s just a personal preference. With all of that said, the one missing ingredient would be the bread. The split top roll is good, but it’s not the same as a true New Orleans style po boy bread.
Sides – Mac and Cheese and Collard Greens – No Southern meal is complete without some delicious side dishes. Bucktown does a nice job with their sides. The mac and cheese was a welcome addition to the meal. It was less on the creamy side and more stringy melted cheese, which is great while hot, but when cool will cause the mac to clump up. The flavors were very good though.
The collard greens were tasty with pieces of pork that really added flavor to the well cooked greens. They also went very well with a little added hot sauce. Many underestimate collards as something easy to make, but excellent collard greens do take some skill.
When it comes to finding good Southern food in Rhode Island, it’s slim pickings. That’s why Bucktown adds something that’s been sorely missing to the area. They do a great job with their mostly fried food offerings. The breadings are light, crispy, and not oily or greasy, which makes what would otherwise be a heavy meal, easier to eat. Chicken and seafood feature heavily across the menu in various forms like sandwiches or plates. The sides add depth to the meal with varying Southern staples like mac and cheese or collard greens. I’ll return to Bucktown the next time I have a fried Southern food craving and I would recommend it to anyone else looking for a similar fix!
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