An impromptu breakfast for four at the always-busy Tuck Shop on Newcastle Street, Northbridge. I'd line up again, and I can't remember too many other places I've said that about.
We've come a long way since sticky buns and iceypoles.
I'm told that Tuck Shop changes its menu a little bit each day (certainly the menu we had been given listed that day's date at the top) and, even if it didn't, it's not hard to see that the kind of food served is not the chocolate-crackles and lamingtons you might be used to from the canteens of old.
I've said in the past that breakfast gets a bad wrap, as it can be hard to really wow someone with a breakfast dish but a chef can easily disappoint. I think that is true still, but the team at Tuck Shop have shown me it's not impossible to make breakfast something to get excited about.
- I ordered the 'Chorizo with paprika potatoes, peppers, spanish onions and crispy pork belly, fried egg' dish and it was borderline gluttonous. But then, as far as sinning goes, this isn't a bad way to partake. The chorizo and pork belly combine with the fried egg to create what is essentially a decadent bacon and eggs dish, and the potatoes provide a base to soak up excess oil, yolk and anything else available to clog your arteries. The meal was delicious and I don't resent the months (optimistic?) it must have taken off my life.
- Ms Foodie (aka Ms Grey) ordered the 'Warm asparagus, spinach on traditional grain toast w/ poached egg, pecorino, salsa verde' and, in contrast, said it was quite a light and refreshing dish. She spoke very highly of it and said she would happily have ordered it again.
- Mr Foodie ordered another special from the blackboard, being the 'Crumbed pork croquettes w/ cheddar toastie, picallili + fried egg'. Although both he and Ms Foodie agreed the croquettes were very good, the toastie didn't quite hit the mark in the same way the other dishes did. I didn't try the dish, but my own view judging on the photo is that you shouldn't do a toastie with bread that thick. It's going to be incredibly difficult to put enough cheese into the middle to balance out the bread but without becoming overpoweringly cheesey. Perhaps the purpose of the bread was more to soak up the egg, in which case calling it a 'toastie' is just trying to be different for difference' sake.
- These three dishes each show how the chef has really thought through some excellent breakfast options and, to some extent, has put a fresh twist on some classics.
- Madam Rabbit ordered a custom dish, being two poached eggs on toast with a side of beans (you can't see the beans in the photo - terrible photographer). She was very happy with the beans, happy enough with the poached eggs, but a bit miffed that they pre-buttered her toast. Personally I think I would have been quite happy to have had my toast pre-buttered - all the more time for gluttoning - but not everyone wants proper butter on their bread.
- These dishes ranged between $17 and $19.50, which is certainly on the pricey side for breakfast but, given the impressive nature of what Mr Foodie, Ms Foodie and I ate, isn't a terrible price really. Madam Rabbit's dish was $11.50 for poached eggs on toast and $5.50 for a side of beans, and personally I think that's a bit extreme. There aren't schools tuck shops in Monaco charging $5.50 for baked beans..
- Madam Rabbit ordered a pot of tea with honey and I was impressed at the speed of delivery and the presentation. She was happy too.
- Our coffees, however, took a lot longer. In fact, Mr Foodie and I got our coffees at the same time that we got our food, notwithstanding that we had ordered them much earlier and Madam Rabbit / Ms Foodie had received their beverages perhaps 10 minutes before us.
- Service was ok, but not great.
- We were very lucky to get seated almost right away - there seems to be a friendly girl out the front who corrals diners as they arrive and often you will see four or five or even sometimes more groups of people waiting out the front for a table to become ready.
- As noted above our drinks were slow coming out - but our food was pretty quick.
- Not much else to report, really. It was a bit hard to get someone's attention for the bill, but once we received the bill we walked it up to the counter, stood in line and paid. Not a slick experience but hardly a burden.
- The feel of the Tuck Shop is very nice, but in some respects it is hampered by its own success, as the place is packed inside and it can be at times a bit awkward to move around in or even relax and enjoy your meal.
- The furniture and the decor all win points, but they need a bigger venue.
A very impressive breakfast option. I'm dazzled by the menu, and I would even go so far as to say their food probably trumps my darling Gooseberries Cafe (which won the best score of 2014). Their service lets them down slightly, though, and where they really fall behind Gooseberries is the feel of the place inside. It's just too busy for such a small venue. Since we ate the above dishes I've been back to see if take away is a better option and unfortunately that is too slow as well (10-15 min wait for a coffee and a toasted sandwich).
Also - I feel I have to take some points off for Madam Rabbit having to pay $17 for her very modest breakfast. I hope they give the price of that menu combination some further thought.
But this isn't a negative review - not by a long shot. We will definitely be back, and I recommend you give it a go too. This isn't your primary school fete tuck shop - this is a fancy-pants gourmet breakfast joint that deserves your money, even if it asks for a lot of it.
8 pre-buttered slices of toast out of 10
re: the title -