Thursday, 12 September 2013

Tuck Shop Take Away, Caulfield North

Instagram: @joicejlau

Today I was in the mood for some lunchtime vegicurean exploration, so I made a trip to Caulfield North to test out this cute new eatery which a friend had told me about the day before. I did some pre-dining research, and learned that this is a new project started by husband-wife dream team Clinton and Katrina, who have honed their craft with the likes of Heston Blumenthal (The Fat Duck), Ben Shewry (Attica) and Shannon Bennett (Vue de Monde).

Tuck Shop is the epitome of what I view as one of this year's culinary trends: childhood food made good (remember that LuxBite lolly bag cake on Masterchef!). It reminds me of one of my fondest memories of New York, Momofuku Milk Bar. Americans reminisce over their milk bar snacks...we Aussies reminisce over our good old school tuckshops. I've long craved for a place in the same vein as Momofuku in Melbourne, and at last I've found it.

The eatery commands a prime position at the corner of Glen Eira Rd and Hawthorn Rd. It's a lovely spot to enjoy a bite while sitting at the window, watching the world go by, with Glen Eira Town Hall in the background. This was my view from the window seat:

The menu is approximately 50% savoury and 50% sweet. When I visited today, there were about four vegetarian options among the savoury items: a gourmet veggie burger, hand-cut chips, creamed corn-caramelised onion jaffles, and baked bean-double cheese jaffles. For such a small tuckshop-type place, that's plenty enough to keep vegos satisfied. Bring a meateating friend along to enjoy their regular burgers, which are already getting plenty of buzz around town!

I went for the creamed corn and caramelised onion jaffles as my savoury choice. Freshly pressed with a hint of melted cheese inside, these were very, very tasty and the flavour combination was excellent - "classic with a gourmet twist".

I'll confess that the vast majority of my visit was spent sinfully devouring sweet temptations. With my jaffles, I enjoyed an absolutely divine salted caramel milkshake. Yes, you heard that right! Other flavours on the milkshake menu include Nutella, Redskin and peanut butter, so it's safe to say I'll be coming back for some more taste-testing!

My second round of ordering consisted of a nutella soft-serve plus a redskin tart. Yum!!

There were several other sweet items which I didn't get around to trying: sweet jaffles, holey donuts, redskin-chocolate brownies, and huge choc-potato chip cookies. I'm also keen to try a few more of their constantly rotating soft serve flavours. Next time ;-) Side note: I'm an ex-Caulfield Grammar student - at the other campus out east, but I was often at the Glen Eira Rd campus for activities - and I'm unspeakably jealous of this generation of Grammarians who now have a "second tuckshop" just down the road in the form of Tuck Shop Take Away!

A lovely quirky little lunch or snack spot which is reasonably priced for the quality you get. The only thing is that the shop is really small and it's pretty hard to get a seat, so you'll just have to be a bit patient if you come in wanting to stick around and taste test instead of taking away ( me!). Overall, a highly recommended spot for both vegetarians and omnivores with a sweet tooth, which manages to successfully mix childhood nostalgia with gourmet grown-up cooking.

UPDATE Wednesday 18/9: I went back with a friend today on a food run after a long day and finally came with enough appetite to try the veggie burger plus a few other things, so I thought I'd add these comments to my original review. Tired and hungry while waiting for our burgers, we started with dessert, opting for their brand-new concoction, the toffee apple crumble. Big thumbs up - I loved the interaction between the apple pie crumble, ganache icing, apple cream cheese and the sponge cake.

Then, along came our "mains", and we both thought the high-quality, mildly sweet brioche buns matched up so well with the savoury patties. The fries were also beautifully done, with a texture which is soft but lightly crispy on the outside. Alongside our mains, I tried the peanut butter milkshake while my friend followed my recommendation to try the salted caramel; both of us agreed that although both were great, the salted caramel is the better of the two from a milkshake perspective. Finally, I finished our sneaky little food run with a very, very more-ish Redskin-chocolate brownie to take away...well, truth be told, it only got as far as my car before we just had to devour it. By the way, we got the owners' tick of approval for splitting our dessert-eating between before and after mains ;-)

Rating: A+
Vegetarian Friendliness: 8.5/10
Price Range: $
Tuck Shop Take Away
273 Hawthorn Rd.
Caulfield North, VIC
Tuck Shop Take Away on Urbanspoon

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