Though not immune to minor miscues, servers are cordial when they're not downright charming, and the front-of-house staff ably manages crowds in a town where diners tend to abhor waiting for tables.Buck & Rider seems an attempt to push the LGO group to a higher level of refinement.Shrimp and chorizo skewers () basted with a fiery harissa were twice served tough and chewy.Yuzu-marinated scallops () tasted like they were hooked up to a saline drip, while steak tartare () was chopped finely enough to make it a teeth-optional affair. Crispy brussels sprouts () are beautifully blackened, but served with a goat cheese "dipping sauce" so thick it makes dipping impossible, and they swim in a pool of apple gastrique with a sweetness so overpowering that it knocks out the vinegar's teeth.Meanwhile, lobster roll "Nik Niks" () will satisfy with lightly dressed sweet lobster meat on toasted, buttery bread.So many dishes, however, fall victim to execution errors.Hong Kong-style halibut () is similarly misguided, a perfect piece of fish splashed with a sauce so heavy with vinegar that it makes everything else on the plate inedible.And while seafood is the name of the game, there's no reason a New York strip () ordered medium-rare should arrive medium-well and — no hyperbole — completely unseasoned.
Small plates dominate the menu, and while I'm a fan of the format, I'm less enamored of its execution.Until the food catches up, however, it's a level for which they're not ready.Like the room, the plates at Buck & Rider are gorgeous, but a combination of questionable choices and technical glitches renders the standouts few and far between.But the rice is dense and sticky, on one occasion resembling the texture of fruit leather, and it kneecaps an entire section of the menu. The deviled crab dip () earns its signature status.It boasts a light and smooth creaminess that achieves its formidable heat — huzzah! Salt and pepper crispy calamari () are deftly done (and one of my "dishes to retire" — the irony is not lost on me), and the salty-sour fish sauce dip is a delightful change of pace.
Dropping eight dishes on a table of four within a 90-second window is an impressive feat of logistics and timing.