A night out with MP took us to Gastown for a pre-concert dinner. After much research, we decided on Tuc, a relatively new restaurant in the area.
Somehow we couldn’t make up our mind on what to order — that’s usually a good sign. We ended up ordering a whole bunch of dishes to share. First, the closet bacon lover in me had my eyes set on the Pork Belly Crackling even before we set foot in the restaurant. The bite size pork belly was perfectly fried to crispy on outside, yet the fatty part still melts in your mouth. The sweet yet sour star anise red wine reduction cut through the richness in the pork belly, while giving you an Asian touch to the dish. Although you practically can’t stop popping these in your mouth, there’s a generous amount of pork belly pieces, and I highly recommend that you share this with someone. Share the love.
The Orange Glazed Lamb Ribs was probably our favourite of the evening. The sweet orange glaze had a nice hint of spiciness thanks to the addition of jalapeno pepper. The lamb ribs were juicy and tender, and worked very well with the glaze. Don’t worry about double-dipping, because you would want to keep going back to the sauce. I can probably eat a plate of this on my own.
Mussels & Clams were not bad. It’s a standard white wine sauce, but with more of the pork belly crackling that we already indulged a whole bowl of. The use of stecca croutons was interesting because the bread was relatively harder than most croutons so it took awhile to soak up the goodness from the broth. I would’ve liked more broth and bigger mussels (they weren’t nice and plump even though they were Salt Spring mussels).
To go with the Mussels & Clams, I added a side of Smashed Potato Fries. Yes, smashed. They are blanched potato pieces, then smashed and deep-fried. They’re more like potato chips than fries, in my opinion, and it’s a bit too thin for my liking. You almost can’t taste the soft, fluffy potatoes from the blanching process. But the star of this dish is in the Coriander Ketchup. It’s so good that we have suggested the restaurant to consider bottling it and selling it on the side. I know MP would be getting some!
The last savoury dish was the Hangar Steak à la Bourguignon. We knew this was supposed to be a twist on Bourguignon so you can’t judge it by its authenticity. Gosh, it’s sooo tender. The meat just melted in your mouth, and the sauce was just luscious and rich. It was really delicious on a hot, summer day, but it would be an even better match for a cold, winter day — perfect choice for comfort food. By this point, we were quite full, yet we couldn’t put our fork down and we kept digging for more.
As you all know, girls have a separate compartment for desserts, so of course we didn’t give up the opportunity to try Tuc’s sweets. We asked for a customized order of Doughnuts with just one scoop of the Caramel Popcorn Ice Cream (half the price on the ice cream, regular size has 3 scoops).
The Doughnuts were a bit greasy and dense, and they just fell apart when you took a bite. That being said, the Rum Caramel Sauce was to die for! It was creamy, nutty, not too sweet, and you can taste the rum in it. The Caramel Popcorn Ice Cream was pretty good, with a subtle flavour from infusing with the popcorn. You know we invented a way to enjoy the best of these two desserts: drizzling the rum caramel sauce on the ice cream. It was just excellent!
The servers were friendly, checked on us very so often without being overly attentive. The chef did make a round to say hi to every table, which I thought was a nice touch. We found out that the staff must talk among themselves, briefing each other about the customers. When the chef came by our table, he acknowledged the fact that he knew we were going to a concert. We only mentioned it to our server! You can call it great hospitality, or creepy, depending on the mood you are in. I seemed to be in a good mood on that day so I didn’t mind!
Overall, the food was great and reasonably priced. All the plates above plus two beers, including tips and gratuity, came to around $80 in total, which isn’t too bad considering the type of food and location. Being east of the Woodward Building, Tuc is slightly away from the busy core of Gastown, but its food and service is worth walking the extra blocks.
Tuc Craft Kitchen
60 West Cordova Street, Vancouver