Tuck Shop Take Away takes your local suburban takeaway to a new level and it’s worth a drive to visit.
The owners have transformed an old corner shop into an adorable school canteen themed milk bar and hamburger joint. The decor is nostalgic and depending on when and where you went to school, amusingly familiar. It starts from the moment you jump hopscotch to the front door.
Spot the old cassette player, a cassette case, jars of fantales and a glowing Peters ice cream light above the soft serve machine.
The water comes out from a schoolyard water bubbler with a stack colourful childish cups and a reminder not to wash your hands in the bubbler because, you know, that’s gross.
The food is old school, done with new school twists.
The milkshakes ($7) are a mixture of frothy Schulz organic milk and house made syrups concocted from childhood sweets, melted down. Take your pick from Redskin, Mintie, Salted Fantale and Nutella. It comes out in a cutesy miniature milk bottle and paper straw too and is perfect for sharing. Our milkshake is sweet, frothy and really does taste like a raspberry-esque Redskin. Sodas are soda-streamed to order.
There are just two burgers, each $10. I choose the Minor, which contains 100% beef patty (cooked pink), lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle, American cheese and Tuck Shop sauce, a mix of mayonnaise, ketchup and mustard. The other burger option is vegetarian and they serve gluten free buns but don’t really advertise it, so you have to ask.
They also serve jaffles made with buttered white bread and simple ingredients – pulled pork is as fancy as it gets. The three cheese jaffle ($6.50) is decadent and filling.
I decide to go the whole hog with the ‘School Meal’ and it’s much better tasting than any tuck shop fare I ever had as a kid. For $19 you get a burger, a small side of their hand cut triple-cooked fries, a chocolate crackle with fun popping candy and a house made soda or milkshake (extra $2.50). It comes out in a classic melamine meal tray and the creativity is worth the price of admission alone.
The Minor is juicy and filling and I like the not-to-sweet milk brioche bun by Noisette. It’s a classic not-jazzed-up burger, done really well. I don’t love the fries. For triple-cooked chips they are decidedly soggy though I did appreciate that they kept the skin on.
The last thing to try are the sweets. We don’t have the stomach room for the dessert cabinet (made by one of the owners who’s worked at The Fat Duck) so we order a soft serve instead. It’s again best shared and comes in a sweet paper cup with tiny spoons. There’s a different soft serve flavour every week and this week it’s Jersey caramel, a lolly that I’ve never actually eaten. The ice cream is delicious – creamy, cold and not as sweet as our milkshake.
Tuck Shop Take Away is a great local take away that marries cheekiness, nostalgic charm and a concise menu done well. It’s like being back at school but a lot more fun! Bonus points for the Radiohead soundtrack too (yep, they’re now retro).
Tuck Shop Take Away, 274 Hawthorn Rd, Caulfield North 0431 406 580