If there’s one thing I can tell you about The Tuck Shop in Northbridge, it’s that from my first meal there, I experienced love at first bite. Let me tell you, a year has passed since then and there have been ups and downs. The ups are those incredible flavours and wonderful service. The downs being that this place is just too damn popular! It means that when I go here, I usually grab a pie as take away rather than battle the lines for a meal.
But in saying that, those pies are not a consolation prize at all. They are, to quote my partner Jeremy, “the best damn pie he’s ever eaten”. So good that he and I are all too happy to do our grocery shopping in chinatown, then grab a take away pie from Tuck Shop that we sit on a corner in the heart of bustling crowds and chomp away happily. No shame here eating with gusto because they require your utmost attention.
Think flaky pastry – buttery and rich and so generous. The fillings on offer are hearty and delicious. My personal favourites are the chicken, leek and white wine (so amazingly tender and creamy) and the beef and stilton (the best blue cheese for beginners). Jeremy’s partial to the latter and the moroccan vegetables. But whatever pie you get, guaranteed it’s going to be amazing.
However every now and then I crave the actual menu offerings at this crowded hotspot, and so it was last weekend I found myself arriving there at the obscenely early 7.30am to meet my friend Jay for breakfast. It was a great plan because I ended up getting a table (I may have cried if not) and I also had an extremely productive day after.
The staff here are so lovely, so while I wait for Jay to arrive I order a freshly squeezed orange juice (sweet but tart at the same time) and chat to some of the staff members. It’s always nice to know that not only is the food great, the service and atmosphere is too. When Jay arrives we order and our food is with us before we know it. Being up early is paying off and my stomach is rumbling from the amazing smells around us. I have to admit, I know I’m in for a great treat.
Jay’s ordered the Chilli Con Carne, which comes out beautifully presented on a rustic looking board. It’s a steaming bowl of minced meat in a thick chilli sauce complete with kidney beans (which I personally love!). There’s a poached egg on top, a salsa salad on the side and two thick cut pieces of toast.
He dives in and with a smile of appreciation, offers me a bite of his chilli which I happily accept. It’s wonderful! Full of aromatic spices and the texture is thick but not cloying. The sauce has a hint of sweetness and the slightest kick of heat. Perhaps not a traditional breakfast dish, but I know I will probably order it next time I’m back here dining in.
I order my go to dish here, which is the Bruschetta – avocado, tomato, basil and goats curd atop toasted ciabatta. Normally this comes with grilled bacon but for some reason I’m a little off bacon these days so I omit this ingredient much to Jay’s horror.
It’s as good as I remember. The bread is crisp and a perfect vessel for the other ingredients. The goats curd is dreamy creamy, slathered atop for combination with the fresh basil and the zingy tomato. I love the smooth velvet quality of the avocado and the portion given. I add a poached egg on the side to this as suggested by our waitress and it’s cooked just right (which needs to be said because too often this isn’t the case at some places). The yolk spills out as a vivid orange river and I mop it up with the other ingredients on the plate.
As usual, I’m pretty full by the end of our meal but I can’t stand the thought of wasting any of this great dish so I pick away until I can’t anymore. But I put in a great effort! And so I should because the produce here is just so amazing, it has to be raved about. While getting a table can, on occasion, put you in line for a long time, the meals here are something special. Nothing pretentious or showy, just really clever pairings of ingredients and respect for produce. It’s what every breakfast place should aspire to be. I love it!