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Monday, April 3, 2017

Great grub at this grill in the Applegate Valley

Great grub at this grill in the Applegate Valley

Story by Lynn Leissler

Photography by Ezra Marcos


A drive through the Applegate Valley knows no unpleasant season, excepting snowy or icy roads. Whether you go out of Grants Pass or Jacksonville, the lush, pastoral setting lends an air of refreshment. That’s where you will find Buckboard Grill, off Highway 238 on Murphy Creek Road. What you might spend in gas you will more than recoup with the restaurant’s reasonable prices.

Rod Barth, who has owned the restaurant for eight years, capitalizes on the idea of something for everyone, from appetizers to soups and salads, to chicken fried steak or beefsteak. Items in the barbeque section— chicken, pork, beef, and ribs—are prepared on the onsite chuck wagon grill. The menu could be considered down home with serious hints of gourmet.

You might fancy a pizza from the menu or choose to create your own, each made on a hand-built crust. If it’s a burger you crave, they’re on the menu, basic choices with add-on options. But if you’re feeling adventuresome, consider an alligator or wild boar burger. The gator in your burger won’t be from the swamp out back, but for $11 it’s worth the try, an experience to add to your list of unusual meats eaten. Beer, wine (many local vintages), and cocktails provide added refreshment, with sodas and milk for the “young ‘uns” and others. Coffee, tea, or hand-squeezed lemon/limeade are available. And of course, dessert to round out your meal.

I asked Barth why people would want to visit Buckboard Grill. He laughed as if to imply, Why not? Then he said, “Because it’s good,” and added, “Generous portions, fair pricing, and high quality products.” In our fast-paced world of technology, instant food, as many shortcuts as we can muster, Barth is a little old school. He feels that the food he serves should be prepared from scratch, which he does. He even cuts his own meat, one of his several brags about why people should stop by. His kids help out in the kitchen. Emily makes the cheesecake and other desserts, as well as whipping up mounds of whipped cream—no frozen cartons or aerosol cans. Jake is the bread man, butter knots and pizza crusts his specialty.

If you aren’t permitted to be messy at home, the Buckboard Grill allows you to toss peanut shells on the floor. No one will scold you and tell you to pick up after yourself.

The restaurant is open seven days a week, 11:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. (9:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday). On Sunday stop by to enjoy a champagne brunch. The long spread offers eggs cooked various ways, French toast, meats, and more. Brunch is served from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. 

The restaurant is housed in a simple building, no fancy architecture there. But expect the best, step inside, and you won’t be disappointed. Knotty pine walls, fireplace, artwork, spindle rails, and red-checkered tablecloths hint at an Old West saloon, toned down to family friendly. And many families sat enjoying a meal. When I walked in, I looked down at my ballet flats, thinking I should have worn my cowgirl boots.

My granddaughter, Renee, and I decided to try the Sunday brunch. Barth gave us a tour of the buffet bar, filled with the usual fare and then some. He serves small bites so you really can take “a little bit of everything,” then go back for more of what pleases you most. The champagne is also a small serving, but a bottomless glass. His eyes shone with pride as he showed off a sampling of the homemade offerings—salsa for the breakfast burritos, mac and cheese, biscuits and gravy, caramel sauce and candid walnuts on the French toast. The waffles and hash are fresh, as are the shrimp, fruit, and puddings. One serving of the tri-tip sent me back for seconds. So did the trademark Buckboard cheesy potatoes. 

Renee filled up sooner than I did, or at least she knew when to stop. She especially liked the whipped cream—she’s ten—and asked Emily for the recipe. We left satisfied, glad we’d taken the time to try it out.

Whether you are out for a drive, want a meal after wine tasting, or headed that way intentionally, the Buckboard Grill is worth the trip. They are the only full-service restaurant and bar in the area, and Barth guarantees you won’t leave hungry.


Buckboard Grill

100 Murphy Creek Rd., Grants Pass


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