Tuc Craft Kitchen
60 W Cordova Street
Monday – Friday: 11:30 am – 3:00 pm, 5:00 pm – late
Saturday: 10:00 am – 3:00 pm, 5:00 pm – late
Every day, I hear people say how much they love Vancouver. Between it’s natural beauty, metropolitan lifestyle, and amazing culinary scene, we can see that it’s an easy place to love. What is truly fascinating, is the diversity amongst the people who are eternally loyal to this city; they are from all walks of life, ye, they are all so at home in Vancouver. With so much character in each of our neighbourhoods, there is a place for almost anyone to find their niche in the city. In the case of Gastown, the character runs deep.
Gastown is known for its history, the steam clock, and the cobblestone roads. It hosts a bustling nightlife, a notorious daytime crowd, and tourists, in every direction. I love the energy of the neighbourhood – it can feel like a completely different city. The historic buildings and boutique shops are a picturesque escape from the downtown bustle. When I stroll through Gastown and pop into the cafes and restaurants, I get the same feeling of adventure as I do when I travel. You never really know what to expect when you walk in the door, but you do know that it will be something interesting to experience. It was my first time to Tuc Craft Kitchen, but from the pork belly crackling to the loft ceiling, it captured my attention.
It was a rainy Friday afternoon when my friends and I ventured to Tuc, and I could not think of a better atmosphere for such a day. Tuc was neither busy nor empty; it was like a casual dining room that was expectant, yet comfortable. The wooden shelving, country-style seating, and vintage lighting are reminiscent of something you might see in London. Our waiter even had an accent. And just like that, I truly felt as if we had transported to another city.
We started off with a few things to share. I was craving some steamed mussels and clams to counter the chilly afternoon, but the last plate had just left the kitchen. Upon the house recommendation, we ordered the following:
Orange glazed lamb ribs – Australian lamb, jalapeno pepper, candied orange glaze. This is a hearty way to start the meal. The lamb was tender and juicy. Although the orange glaze covered the dish, the lamb still held a hint of its signature gamey taste. Sometimes this taste can be overpowering or even deterring, so I appreciated the subtlety of the lamb flavour.
Pork belly crackling – Gelderman farms, star anise red wine reduction, coarse salt. I’ve tried a few different versions of pork belly recently, and I think this was one of my favourites. It was not overly fatty or oily, and the pieces were a perfect bite-size. Definitely a fun dish to share!
For my main course, I ordered the Runsas & Soup. I’ll admit, 50% of my decision was to find out what Runsas was, and 50% was because the item involved soup (see: cold and wet day). Hopefully one day soon, someone will write a Wikipedia page about runsas, because right now it’s just a command for Microsoft Windows OS. The way I ate it at Tuc, runsas is a pastry, stuffed with beef and cabbage. I will allude to the ol’ pizza pocket idea, but do not let this comparison taint the sophistication of the dish. The outside was not particularly flavourful, but the fillings were hot, savoury, and delicious. Taste-wise, the lentil soup was everything that I hoped it would be. However, in the words of my foodie companion, it was served at a “don’t-sue-me” temperature. It could have used a little more love on the stove…we can take the heat!
This next one wasn’t my meal, but I did get a little taste-test so I could tell you about it! (You’re welcome). This is the beef brisket & pork crackling sandwich with smashed potato fries – double R ranch brisket, whole wheat french bread, dijon mustard, assorted pickles, salsa verde. The sandwich packed some bold flavour for its modest size. The tanginess from the mustard and the pickles rounded out the meatiness of the beef brisket. It had the same pork crackling as our appetizer, which added texture and decadence. I don’t know if the fries had to be smashed, but they’re fries…so I didn’t discriminate!
“Tuc”ed away on a secluded street in Gastown, this Craft Kitchen was a pleasant surprise. As a dining package – the space, the décor, the staff, the menu, and the flavours – Tuc holds true to the historic character of Gastown that is energetic, playful, and welcoming. I hope it won’t be long until my wanderings lead me back to a cobblestone street; who knows what hidden escape I’ll find next!