With the revitalization of the downtown east side and Gastown new and delicious dining options are open up everywhere. Tuc Craft Kitchen has opened up for business recently and it’s quickly become a bustling space with people enjoying fresh, local ingredients served up in a way that encourages sharing. The space itself had nice high ceilings with big windows with warmth coming from a beautiful wood bar and accents throughout, the restaurant also has an upstairs level so it’s perfect for groups. Seeing the menu is designed for sharing I was joined by Adrian and Jeremy of the Food Gay’s for this dinner.
The cocktail, beer and wine menu all are really well thought out with some inventive selections. I ended up having a Sloe Gin Fizz made with Plymoth sloe gin, Plymouth gin and lemon juice as well as a Figetaboutit made with four roses bourbon, lemon juice, amaretto and fig jam. The Sloe gin fiz was light and refreshing, perfect for a Summer day while the Figetaboutit was more boozy with the bourbon and amaretto being the predominate flavors in the drink.
To start we all devoured the Crispy Tempura Battered Bacon and Eggs ($3 ea). The eggs were cooked to a soft boil stage so the white and yolk were still like velvet. When taking a bite I was hit with the classic bacon and eggs flavor notes then the crunch of the tempura came into play. I’m not a huge soft/hard-boiled egg person and I absolutely loved these so I’d recommend them to anyone!
Next up is the Pork Belly Crackling ($6) made using Gelderman Farms pork, star anise red wine reduction, coarse salt. This is one of Tuc’s signature dishes and a perfect starter to go with some beer. With a nice, crispy outside and moist center with the bigger nuggets and more crispy smaller pieces these really were perfect to pop in your mouth. The star anise and red wide reduction was perfect to cut the richness of the pork and added a completely different take on the dish.
Something that you think would be odd for a seasonal, Summer menu is a hot Fish Stew ($9) but this was perfect. Made with rockfish and steel head, poached in a white wine fume with a spicy rouille on the side. Jeremy and Adrian went nut’s over this item, the fume had a nice light mouth feel despite looking like a heavy creamy broth. The fish was in nice big chunks and the seafood was delicious.
Something that was a favorite at the table is the Orange Glazed Lamb Ribs ($9) with jalapeno pepper and a candied orange glaze. These are one of the must try items at Tuc, they come on a hot cast iron skillet in a pool of mouth-watering sauce that you should slather your chop in when eating it. The candied orange glaze is an interesting combination with the jalapeno to make for one killer combination. I picked up my chop and ate it like a meat Popsicle so I encourage you to get these and dig right in. The lamb itself was full of flavor and nice and tender with a good sear on the outside.
For something a little bit more refreshing the Chef brought out some house made Steel Head Gravlax ($5) with homemade pickled vegetables. The fish was extremely clean tasting and literally melted in my mouth. The pickled candy cane beets on the side were also a favorite of mine.
Moving on to one of the more heartier dishes and mains, the Hanger steak a la bourguignon ($19) is something I would come back for alone, it was absolutely delicious. The braised Okanagan beef fell apart when I went to take a piece with my fork and the gratin potatoes had a nice hint of cheese in them. To compliment the dish they used a nice assortment of glazed vegetables. Overall this dish backed deep, rich beef flavor and is a filling meal for 1 or perfect shared between 2 people.
For our fish course we had the Red bandit Meuniére ($17). The dish consists of Port Hardy Rockfish pan seared with thyme, warm savoy cabbage slaw, crispy shiitake chips and serve it alongside a semolina gnocchi cake. The fish had a crispy skin side and it was nice and moist inside. The semolina gnocchi cake was crisp on the outside with a soft and fluffy center and was a hit with everyone. My personal favorite item on the plate was the savoy cabbage slaw, it had a light cabbage flavor with a delicious creamy dressing on it.
To finish off the mains we had the Pork 2 ways ($19), a slow braised Gelderman farm pork belly and roasted loin chop with an espresso reduction, smashed fingerlings and eggplant relish. The bone-in chop had lots of flavor and with the espresso reduction it was out of this world! The smashed whole fingerings potatoes are something that I’m going to totally make at home, the smashing of them provides more surface area to get crispy yet the inside remains fluffy. Overall this was another winning dish and a fine example of how to do a pork chop right.
For dessert we shared some fresh Benignets with a rum caramel sauce. The deep-fried morsels were a lot more dense like cake doughnuts rather than traditional benignets I’ve had but that was alright-they were delicious. The caramel sauce was awesome and had a nice depth of flavor, the chef nailed the right amount of rum in the sauce so it didn’t overwhelm the caramel.
Overall we really enjoyed the dishes served and the service was there to back up the great food, any questions were answered and we watched the staff interact with every diner in the place. Tuc Craft Kitchen is also open for Brunch and Lunch with a slightly different menu with some great priced items-most under $12 bucks. I’ll definitely be back and it’s on my list for brunch for sure.
**Disclosure-This was an invited dinner, my food and drinks were covered by the restaurant. My opinions and experience are completely my own.**