I recall the first time that I stepped into the Tuck Shop on the corner of Money and Newcastle Street - it was a rainy, and grey April morning in the year 2012. I was attracted by the iconic Toby's Estate umbrella stationed outside this cafe that was then unheard of. I had an enjoyable morning's coffee there whilst looking over the menu, deciding that I'll be back for breakfast next time. Within the next few weeks and coming months, the Tuck Shop exploded into a city wide name and a long standing Urbanspoon top restaurant. Amongst all the positive feedback, words like "overpriced", "overrated" and "overhyped" have been thrown around too.
A year on, I've visited plentifully and have found myself at this point many times - at the opening paragraph of a review and wondering how on earth do I do justice to such a fond favourite that everybody has an opinion about? Some might say that I'm a little late to the party, and as much as it could be seen that way, I preferred to wait to write this review until I had could form the most consistent opinion possible on a variety of my favourite Tuck Shop dishes.
Last Winter, I noticed two of my favourite words in the food dictionary scrawled on the Tuck Shop's blackboard wall of specials. The use of real Vanilla in the Tuck Shop's Vanilla Bean Milkshake is evident in the authentic tinges of black vanilla beans amongst the thick, white milkshake. On a more recent visit, I also tasted their Caramel Milkshake which harboured simular authentic notes of a rich, dark caramel. It's not uncommon for a lot of cafes to charge "market Perth price" also known as "exuberant", for milkshakes that are created from artificial flavour bases - but this is not the case at the Tuck Shop and I have willingly paid the $7 price tag upon every visit.
Part of the allure of heading out for a weekend brunch is for the sake of relaxing and letting someone else do the cooking for a change. It's a bonus, if the cafe of your choice delivers you an experience that you would be hard tasked to recreate in your very own kitchen. I feel that way about all of the dishes at the Tuck Shop and often tuck into the Mixed Berry Pancakes, which are glorified by the accompanying Vanilla Mascarpone. In all the occasions where I've enjoyed the pancakes, I've only had one experience where they came out underdone. The staff at the Tuck Shop are also a great asset to the cafe and managed this situation really well - the place is nearly always packed and they still always retain a sense of politeness and efficiency. The pancakes were taken off the bill and a replacement was offered, which is a very civil and much appreciated way for any restaurant or cafe to handle any kitchen mishaps.
Another signature Tuck Shop special is their house made pies; if I had a dollar for every time a conversation has lead to the mutual squealing over how delicious they are, it would certainly lead to a lot of pies materialising on the dining table. Each pie has been consistently encased in flaky, buttery pastry and my favourite thus far is the Lamb, Rosemary and Vegetable.
I'm a sucker for comfort foods and can't go past ordering the Hand Cut Chips as a side dish every brunch time. Unfortunately though, I've had a few floppy chip incidents and whilst these aren't the best hand cut chips in Perth, they are definitely served with one of the best aioli sauces! Other notable sides to the famous Tuck Shop pies include their mushy peas ($2.50) and mashed potato and gravy ($4.50)
Meet the elevated, premium version of a Subway Meatball Sub and definitely one of the more filling brunch dishes that I've tried on the Tuck Shop menu. There really is nothing more satisfying than juicy, well seasoned meatballs and mopping up a slightly spicy egg yolk and meatball sauce up with a torn hunk of toasty flatbread.
Unfortunately for me, I hadn't actually experienced the infamous Tuck Shop Pork Belly until my most recent visit. I had sworn off it uncharacteristically because this was the dish that had received the most "overrated" responses. However, personally I thought that this was exceptional and this will definitely be the dish that I order on my next visit. The crispy, deep fried Pork Belly is sinfully moreish and all the components come together for such an exciting, flavourful mouthful. The perfect thing would be for a side of bread to manifest by my side to mop up all the residing oils, uncovered after the main components had been enthusiastically polished off...next time then!
I think a "chedder toastie" takes the cake for the nostalgia fuelled nuances that the Tuck Shop have cleverly weaved in and amongst their comfort food studded brunch menu. But what really steals the show is the Smoked Cod, Potato and Leek Bake - perfect poached egg included.
Dippability wise, the iron cast dish of molten liquid gold is the true winner. The Smoked Cod bake sauce is truly a wonderful thing, that will keep you scraping at the sides with every last toastie crumb, right down to the very last drop. It's my favourite Tuck Shop brunch dish and something that I have consistently been impressed by from the very first time I've ordered it.
The Tuck Shop is well on it's way to receiving over 2000 votes on Urbanspoon and has consistently wielded a line out the cafe door every weekend over the past year...giving an opinion on the Tuck Shop can be very much so be compared to preaching to the choir. I'll also mention that I usually stick to the milkshakes and fresh juices at the Tuck Shop as I've had a few eyebrow raising moments when I've ordered less than satisfactory coffee here. It wasn't until recently upon trying a friend's flat white that the coffee has won my approval again. The Tuck Shop display the name of the barista on duty at the front counter and I can vouch for the fact that June makes a mean Flat White! As far as consistency goes, this place fairs pretty well - there have been some blunders, but nothing so terrible to warrant me to never return again. I think it's worth the wait, but would prefer to cruise in on a weekday mid-afternoon when I can be settled and seated as soon as I walk in. I highly recommend the Tuck Shop as one of the "must go" cafes around Perth, and will continue to aptly bring new comers as well as myself here whenever possible.
Tuesday - Sunday, 7am - 4pm (Kitchen closes at 3pm)