Friday, March 4, 2011

Montreal: tuckshop

a bright spot in nowhereville
:St. Henri on Notre-Dame:

Catch of the Day special...omg sauce...see it?  Ridiculous.

What exactly is a tuckshop? I frankly didn’t know. I can admit when I don’t know something. You simply live, Google, and learn. So after consulting Wiki, I discovered a tuckshop is “a small, food-selling retailer…”. Such a simple concept but one that has made for a very buzzworthy restaurant. I had to sit on the idea of trekking to nowhereville, but ultimately decided that if the Gazette and the Mirror both gave it glowing reviews, little nobody me ought to.

With its rustic finishes and modern lighting, it feels more like a bistro you might find on King West in Toronto. I was particularly fond of the life-size chalkboard menu and the glass jars encasing sand and tea lights. It’s always about the details. And, unlike most open kitchen layouts, the restaurant didn’t smell – which is a deal breaker for me, because the last thing I want is to go out to eat and leave with a little eau des boeuf et poisson.
The gossip about tuckshop all hit the same notes: 
  • The first is that it’s in an area where one might not find fine dining. No problem, we live in the age of automobiles.
  • Second, the service is often slow. Service is also slow at Tim Horton’s and all they do is pour.
  • Third, and most important, the food is fantastic. Even when seated to capacity, they serve delicious food. While not everything on the menu was novel and exciting, there were little things that made the dishes stand out. 
  • And lastly, the sign outside needs to go. I concur, it’s ugly and doesn’t do the interior justice.

The starter of roasted beets, arugula and goat cheese is a classic combination. Tuckshop’s take on this common dish is to make a puree-like vinaigrette of goat cheese. The other starter I had was seared tuna over a bed of fennel and blood oranges. While seared tuna is ever present in so many restaurants, Tuckshop’s masterpiece is quiet – no funky loud sauce or fancy accompaniments, just fresh tuna with a lovely crust and a tiny dollop of olive tapenade.

The mains were just as delicious. The daily fish was a tile fish with calamari sitting in a bed of omg sauce. (Sidebar: omg sauce is sauce so good you want to bathe in it). The lamb shank was fall off the bone tender and rich. It all sounds pretty fantastique, non? Oui. Si, réservez une table maintenant.

Make that trip to nowhereville.

Tuck Shop on Urbanspoon

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