After a long workweek (well this one wasn’t that long) it is easy to fall into a rut on Friday night when it comes to dinner options. There are always the close standards and then there is the obligatory couple dialog (especially for those who have been together forever) of “Where do you want to go?” “I don’t know where do you want to go….” And then you wind up someplace uninteresting and dull.
Not so, this Friday night.
I decided earlier in the afternoon that I wanted to just sit and relax, have some wine, maybe some cheeses and meats (charcuterie), so I went to my friend Google and looked up “best charcuterie in Phoenix” and I was treated to a New Times article where I discovered a place I had seen show up in searches on Yelp and other apps called Tuck Shop. I always thought, “what the hell is that?” and because I was lazy and didn’t want to do any research, passed it up. Boy, did I learn a lesson to stop being lazy… and so should anyone looking for places to eat.
The description in the article and then the website menu and descriptions had me intrigued, and it wasn’t that far from home to boot. Did I mention I had wanted to Uber and not drive so I could partake of some adult beverages and not have to worry about driving? So, I made a reservation and we headed that way when Ben got home from work. (It was a little early celebrating for his birthday next week).
Tuck Shop is located at the corner of 12th Street and Oak on the edge of the Historic Coronado neighborhood in a very unassuming building. But on the inside it is incredible however, relatively small and cozy and seats about 50+ people in a comfortable homey atmosphere. The staff greeting us was very pleasant and cheery, we were seated by Grace (Unger), who I found out in a short bit was the owner. She told us about the menu and the wine selection and generally chatted us up, which is nice. I will say she made the rounds regularly and stopped by and chatted even when it got crazy busy. And she was also called upon to help at the bar (which is stocked with some rare finds – a Yamazaki 18!!!!) and deliver food.
The menu is not huge nor is it small, it is just right, divided into three main sections of Appetizers (5-6), Small Plates (7-8), and Large Plates (6-7), with a couple of Desserts. Of course, I was in the mood for charcuterie, which was available as well as Roasted Garlic. The charcuterie is served on a large board with almonds, Olives, sliced Green Apples, and bread. The meat and cheese selections vary by day but this time we had Smoked Gouda, a Cheddar (I can’t remember what… but it was good), and Manchego. The meats were a Chorizo and Prosciutto (I love Prosciutto) and all was served with some wonderfully toasted Ciabatta and some Roasted Red Pepper Hummus.
The Roasted Garlic was this gigantic bulb of garlic with olive oil and pepper in the dish served with toasted baguette slices. As we were enjoying our appetizers Grace made her way around and I asked for some mustard. She brought mustard and a little concoction she whips up for spreading on bread of mascarpone, olive oil, salt, pepper, almonds, and carmelized onions. Oh my gosh, I thought we had died and gone to heaven. It is the best thing NOT on the menu.
We actually started with some wine before ordering any food, and the selection this place has is beyond belief. There are quite a few on the two menus and a whole back room of off menu wines she saves for those interested in something a little more adventurous. We were able to sample a luscious Austrian Reisling (LETH Felser Weinberge Reserve Riesling 2013) that was delightful and a very unusual Cabernet (Austin Hope Cabernet Sauvignon 2015). This was after I had decided I wanted a nice sparkling Rose, what can I say, and Ben had decided on a POE Cabernet. These both went well with our appetizer selections.
Our intention was to have an appetizer or two and a couple of small plates and come back another time to try the Large plates. I am glad we did. As it was we brought food home. Our Small Plates consisted of a Deep Fried Salt and Pepper Ribs, Medjool Dates stuffed with Schreiners chorizo, and the Times Mac and Cheese with Lobsta. I ordered the dates because I have this love/ hate relationship with them. I love them but I can only eat one or two. They were really good with the chorizo. The Ribs were very interesting being deep fried and then a sprinkling of coarse sea salt on the outside. The hit was the Times Mac and Cheese. I have to say that I am a sucker for Mac and Cheese and am usually disappointed by what is set in front of me. The Times Mac and Cheese was phenomenal. It has Gruyere, fontina, and bleu d’auvergne, as well as what I thought were lardons but if I had paid attention to the menu.. was actually fried Panchetta (even better) and baked. The lobster was added on top as it is served. In the meantime the place got packed and crazy busy, but the staff was always accommodating and didn’t seem to “freak out” as some places do when it gets crazy. That is a testament to how Grace seems to approach managing and running the business; very laid back and everybody does everything, even her.
Did I mention that Grace made the rounds regularly checking on patrons and lavished an enormous amount of time with us? When we were done we decided to maybe try a dessert. I assumed they had Tiramisu since she had Mascarpone in the house, but sadly no. They did have Crème Brulee and of course I had to tell the infamous Crème Brulee story (for another time). Grace suggested the bread pudding, but it had raspberries in it and that is just not a flavor I am fond of. However she said it was her mother’s recipe and there were just a few, so I acquiesced and tried it. It was really quite nice. The hint of raspberry that I got in a few spoonfuls was not off putting and even the whole raspberry I got didn’t kill me and I didn’t gag 😉 . The whiskey sauce was delicate and the real whipped cream was a delightful topping for a great dessert.
So, if you are on the hunt for a nice relaxing, albeit noisy when busy, atmosphere to enjoy some wonderful food and wine, consider Tuck Shop Kitchen and Bar.
This was a great start to a week of celebrating Ben’s birthday and we discovered a new gem that we will be trying again very soon to sample the rest of the menu.
2245 n. 12th street
phoenix, az 85006
dinner | tuesday – saturday: 5pm – 10pm
brunch | saturday & sunday: 9am – 2pm
afternoon tea | saturday: 12pm – 3pm