TUC is a new'ish restaurant near Gastown on West Cordova St. (they've just marked a year in business). Sandwiched in between the Army & Navy and the Woodward's condos.
The space is very "loft" feeling - with high ceilings, exposed pipes, reclaimed wood and neon sign art (think cool, partial cafe sign, not eye-rolling MillerTime).
A bench runs along one wall with suspended padding, in a striking red, making for very comfortable, and unique, seating.
The typewriter font menus are simple in both appearance and selection - eight starters/sharing plates and eight mains. Great pricing too - one main (a 12oz dry aged rib eye) is over the $30 mark - all the others congregate in the high-teens, low-twenties. Accompanied by a wide drink selection - rotating taps/curated bottle selection, classic & unique cocktails, wine, scotch and whiskey.
I was in a simple mood - so I wet my whistle with a French 75 and was kept company with a pint of Howe Sound Brewing's Diamond Head Oatmeal Stout (which, having never tried, we were given a small shot of, prior to committing on the full 20oz).
It was a toss up on starters, but the lamb ribs will have to wait for a return visit. This time around we ordered the albondigas (beef and pork meatballs). They were served nestled in piping hot tomato vodka sauce, in a petite cast iron pan. These were delicious. Moist, meaty, flavourful and tender. A couple slices of bread and I could do this for dinner, easily.
For mains we had the Clam & Steelhead Bake and the Pork 2 Ways. The bake was excellent. A lovely seared piece of trout sitting atop clams, mussels, diced chorizo, roasted butternut squash and new potatoes. As it was being placed before me, the server said he liked to lightly mash the potatoes, so they could soak up more of the silky white wine sauce. Good advice!
The pork was equally as delicious. A large, thick chop served perfectly prepared (moist and still a touch pink inside - yes!) drizzled with an espresso reduction (rich, almost chocolate-like flavour without being overpowering). Served with smaller pieces of seared pork belly, baby veggies and, wait for it, the best potatoes. Smashed fingerling potatoes. Boiled, flattened, then fried. Oh my.
We opted to share a dessert, but couldn't make up our minds - but our fabulous server was quick to suggest a small bowl of the caramel popcorn ice cream alongside the full order of fresh donuts with spiced rum caramel sauce.
The ice cream was nice, with a soft hint of the caramel popcorn taste. The donuts were at the other end of the scale - bam! A big hit of hot, crunchy, sugary fried dough, to which we drizzled (yes, generously) the infused sauce. So. Good. And popular - we saw a few tables imbibe in just drinks and an order of these delicious, decadent, dough drops. Sometimes it's the simple things.
We really loved our meal at TUC Craft Kitchen and we'll be back next time we're in the big smoke. And though dinner was amazing, I'd love to try their Saturday brunch menu (lamb shoulder & eggs, wilted kale & buttered leek frittata…).
I wish TUC luck in the tough Vancouver restaurant scene - but they had it all when we were there - an interesting & comfortable setting, well prepared & priced food, and some pretty amazing service (professional, friendly & helpful).
TUC Craft Kitchen
60 West Cordova St.
Lunch (M-F) 11:30-3pm
Dinner (M-S) 5pm-late
Brunch (Saturdays) 10am-3pm
Facebook: Tuc Craft Kitchen