THIS DINER ROCKS!
The music and the menu are winners at the newly opened Tuck Box, says Lucinda O’Sullivan, who enjoyed the school-room style and fantastic food
‘Y ou were always on my mind, you were always on
my mind,” crooned Elvis Presley, followed in rapid succession by Diana Ross rolling up with Ain’t No Mountain High Enough. “Well, the music’s a winner anyway. Young rockers and old rockers are going to love this place,” I said to Paul, my dining companion. We were at the new Tuck Box in what is now ‘dining destination Dalkey’, a village whose repertoire is multifarious and interesting, but did not, until now, have what is known as an American-style diner.
Set in the former Nosh premises on Coliemore Road, it is the latest venture of Rachel Clancy who, a couple of years ago, created The Magpie Inn, the hugely popular gastropub just around the corner.
Tuck Box feels like being in an old-style school room, with its small, school-style chairs, wooden-topped tables, blackboard-sided walls, and a long ‘teachers’ communal table — but no school room was ever this much fun. Water comes in a retro milk bottle, the ketchup bottles are on the table, and the drinking glasses and sundae dishes are a real throwback.
Teacher is not going to cry over the prices here, either, with a menu that includes big homemade burgers — classic; hot-spicy; or burger-in-abowl with all the trimmings and no bun — all costing €9 each, plus a great fish-andcrab burger with lettuce and sauce gribiche at €10.
Classic crispy, fried maize tortillas, guacamole, hot tomato salsa, sour cream and chive, black olives and melted cheddar are €8, while an open, grilled, marinated hanger steak sandwich with Portobello mushrooms, tomato relish and rustic sourdough bread is €12.
Slow-roasted baby back ribs in a smoky barbecue rub are €8; and a baked potato with spiced beef and chorizo, sour cream, grated cheddar and spring onion is €9.
Pasta-lovers are not ignored, with tagliatelle Alfredo, featuring roasted pine nuts, sun-dried tomatoes, arugula and goat’s cheese, at €12.
Paul kicked off with a Texan-style melange of tender pork belly pieces tossed with organic quinoa, sweet pumpkin, pickled red cabbage, and presented in endive leaves (€6.50). Very tasty indeed. The tart endive leaves provided that sharp, crisp, crunch contrast with the almost sweet pork mix.
I had the aptly named Firecracker Gambas (€14), which consisted of three large, chunky, spiced black tiger prawns; flash-grilled, and retaining a great bite, they were split and served with greenery, and pineapple and lime salsa.
We followed up with Tuck Box Southern-fried chicken for Paul, which had drumsticks, thighs, leg and breast pieces, and a hot-spicy burger for me. The crisp, lightly coated chicken (€11) was moist and delicious, while my big, hot-spicy burger (€9) was voted one of the best ever by both of us. Paul had a side of skinny chips (€2.50), while I had sweet potato fries with Parmesan (€3.50), which tasted even better mopped up with my fingers.
Sweets included New York baked Maltesers cheesecake; Mississippi mud pie; fresh yogurt and crushed Amaretto biscuit, winter fruit compote and pistachio crust; or the wonderful Gathabawn Farm ice cream. We shared a slice of addictive, gluten-free carrot cake (€5), and a scoop of fab peanut ice cream (€2) — absolutely sinful.
The wine list is chosen with a nose for individuality, and includes 500ml carafes of Cantina Frentana Montepulciano d’Abruzzo and Coocciola d’Abruzzo at €15. We enjoyed a bottle of Monte la Reina Naire Verdejo 2012 (€25), which brought our bill, with optional service, to €86.50.
The Tuck Box will be well-filled, no doubt, with local Dalkey celebs chowing down — after all, who doesn’t love a good burger, and who doesn’t love a rocking, American-style diner?