Fried bologna: it's the specialty at the Buckboard Bar & Grill

Written by David Green. Posted in Feature Stories

By JEFF PICKELL

Few may have known that last Tuesday was National Bologna Day, but for Fayette residents Debbie and Gary Ragsdale, every day is bologna day.

The owners of the Buckboard Bar and Grill in downtown Fayette, their Red Burger—or fried bologna sandwich—is a hit. People have come from Toledo to sample the restaurant’s signature item, which includes a nearly half-inch thick quarter-pound slice of bologna topped with cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, onions and mayonnaise.fried.bologna

The Red Burger—named after Red Keller, the bar’s fried bologna-loving former owner—sells just as well as the hamburger, said Gary.

“Most fried bologna sandwiches contain stacks of individual slices. We give you the one thick patty,” said Debbie.

Not a burger or bologna fan? There’s a sandwich on the list for almost everyone—the rueben with homemade sauerkraut, the steak sandwich, the breaded pork sandwich.

Gary, who considers himself a sandwich artist, often receives comments about how his sandwiches look like they come right out of a TV commercial.

“I put plenty of tender love and care into making them,” he said.

The Buckboard has been open for lunch for nearly a year now, and the sandwiches are a takeout favorite for workers downtown. Still, many local residents aren’t aware of its menu. Fayette resident Mike Figgins, who hadn’t been to the restaurant, was surprised to see Gary making sandwiches when he stopped in last week.

Now, with a newly installed fryer, the Buckboard’s menu has grown even more comprehensive, featuring appetizers and other fare.

That’s not all that’s new at the Buckboard, which takes its name from a wagon used during the 19th and early 20th century.

When the Ragsdales bought the bar —formerly called Harry’s—from Red and Artie Keller two years ago, their goal from the outset was to transform it from a generic establishment to an authentic “country and western” bar and grill.

Both Gary and Debbie spent years in the country music industry. A guitar player and singer, Gary has played in a number of bands, including one headed by Merle Haggard’s son, Marty. He was once so involved that he played five to six shows a week in addition to working a day job.

Things have slowed down since the move to Fayette, but the Ragsdales still host jam sessions at the Buckboard beginning at 2 p.m. Sundays.

Anyone who can play an instrument is welcome to attend, said Gary, but it helps to have a taste for country music or southern rock and roll.

The Buckboard Bar and Grill opens at 11 a.m. Tuesday through Sunday.

    - Nov. 15, 2006 

It's actually Italian sausage 

What exactly is bologna, anyway? A common joke is that it’s a combination of whatever a butcher sweeps off the floor after carving the choice cuts. In reality, bologna is just as noble a sausage as any other variety.

Technically, bologna is a version of mortadella, an Italian sausage comprised of finely hashed pork sausage combined with lard pieces, typically from the pig’s neck. However, in addition to pork, bologna can be made from chicken, turkey, beef and soybeans.

The sausage takes its name from the Italian city in which it was popularized, but no one knows when people first started making it. Some food experts claim bologna was around as early as A.D. 500, while others think it didn’t appear until after the renaissance.

Traditionally, bologna consists of cured beef, cured pork or a mixture of the two that is seasoned with salt, pepper and sugar. Various regional recipes also add seasonings such as cayenne pepper, coriander seed and garlic, but, as with many foods, there’s no one way to make bologna. Bologna recipes exist that make use of venison and moose.

While mass producers of bologna puree the meat so that machines can pour it into synthetic collagen sleeves, the experts say a good gourmet sausage is best served chopped fine and stuffed in sleeves made from the gastro-intestinal tracts of cattle, sheep or hogs.

If you’re particularly bonkers for bologna, you might want to plan a trip to Newfoundland, where the inhabitants are known to serve up a tasty cut of barbecued bologna, referred to as a Newfie steak.

Finally, don’t be fooled. Spelling bologna “baloney” is a bunch of baloney. Coined by the French, “baloney” refers to the incomprehensible legalese for which graduates of the University of Bologna law school are known.

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