The Girl Who Ate Everything

Blogging about food and whatever since 2004.

lunch at Tuck Shop

eat pie
eat pie

Sometimes you'll see something out of the corner of your eye, like a car careening down the road (towards you), or a squirrel attacking another squirrel over who can dig a better hole. Other times, you'll see see a chalkboard sign declaring "EAT PIE / FEEL GOOD". Maybe all three will happen at the same time, but in my case, I saw this sign while walking down quiet 1st Street (while lugging a bag of Japanese snacks from Sunrise Mart; I'll have to fill you in on that later) towards Tuck Shop, where I intended to eat pie and feel good. Dammit.

Tuck Shop
Tuck Shop

I found the restaurant randomly looking through Menupages (this is why I don't need television; I have MENUPAGES, along with a neverending hell of blogs to read) and it sounded too cute to pass up. Also, it's cheap. Okay, maybe that was my real reason, but you don't mind many places that sell freshly made meat pies, do you? (looks around) Nope. I also never had "real" Australian food before (figuring Tim Tams don't count), so I wanted to give it a try. I don't know anything about Australian food but certainly one of you do does, in which case you can let me know how Australian this place is.

koala wants pie

Even the koala wants pie! EVERYONE WANTS PIE! So. Onto the pie.

pies pies pies
pies pies pies

Did I mention they have pies? Well, they have pies, all $5 each: traditional (ground beef), chook (chicken, ham, leeks, white gravy), lamb shank and vege, vegetable, vegan, and chook curry. For an extra $2, you can get a "pie floater", aka "drown your pie in pea soup" which I'm sure tastes a lot better than it sounds because it sounds...well. Floater. Actually, next time I go I'm definitely floating mine. "FLOAT MY PIE! I DEMAND PIE FLOAT-AGE."

Wow, that sounded wrong. Or. God, I don't know. "Float my pie"...okay, I'm not gonna say it again.

...floatmypie. [cough]

Since they keep the pies in a hot case by the counter, you get instant pie satisfaction. You can get your pie to go ("Float my pie, TO GO"...oh crap, I said it again) or sit at one of the 6 or so seats by the counter or small table. It's definitely more of a no-frills take-out place, but the warm wooden interior feels homey, with bits of Australian paraphernalia displayed around the walls (like a surfboard, although I guess that's not a "bit") and considering the "freeze your face off" weather, I sure wasn't going anywhere.

cash register

One of the most memorable parts about this place was the guy who gave me the pie. No, not just because he gave me my pie, but because you could immediately tell he was friendly. I know a lot of people are friendly, but there are different kinds of friendly. There's polite-friendly, nice-friend, you're-scaring-me-friendly...actually, I just made those up. I guess this guy seemed warm-friendly, like he really enjoys making pies. I guess he could also hate making pies with BURNING, SEETHING ANGER, but I didn't get that impression.

pie innards
pie innards

Oh, pie! I got a chook pie, which I suppose is a lot like your standard American chicken pot pie. While growing up, I used to eat these a lot, mainly in microwaved form from a bulk pack of frozen pies we got from Costco and were freakishly salty, now that I think of it. It was a random choice as I'd happily try any of the pies; all animal products and vegetables are fine with me!

The pie was packed with chicken, and...chicken. Lots of nice, chunky white meat bits in here. The crust was good, not greasy, not too flaky, perhaps a little tougher than I would've liked but I'd eat it again. I thought the pie as a whole was a little dry (as you can see from the photo, the filling isn't soupy, while the pies I had growing up were basically like creamy chicken stew topped with a crust) but I didn't eat it with ketchup as Australians seem to do. Next time, I'll try that. Or...float my pie.

Overall, it was a satisfying pie that was $5 well spent. I can't imagine that anyone would prefer to eat a boring, cold sandwich, probably for more money, than a personal, warm, golden crusted stuffed pie. Eating just the pie was satisfying enough, considering I wasn't even hungry (trust me, it bothers me when I'm not hungry, but that doesn't mean I won't eat if I have a lunch break), but of know, I like the sugar. I couldn't leave without a dessert.

vanilla slice, splodey
vanilla slice

I asked for a dessert, specifying that I wanted something sweet. The guy went to the fridge and gave me a vanilla slice, aka "Vanilla custard, sandwiched between 2 layers of puff pastry finished with a white fondant icing top." Damn, you can't go wrong with that, can you? NO! Not unless you're lactose intolerant.

I couldn't get a very good photo since the vanilla slice was in a plastic container, but it was really good. I wish I could've shared it with someone else, but eating alone meant "consuming everything in my path like a monster who has to friends because she ate them all". Yeah, I pretty much ate the whole thing, in all its its custard sandwich glory. I was actually expecting it to be sweeter, but I guess my sweet tooth isn't sensitive enough. The sickly sweetness is in the fondant, which you can easily take off if you want (by the last few bites, I did; gimme custard!). I haven't had anything quite like this before, but it reminded me of a napoleon because of the thin layers surrounding the custard. The custard tasted very good, although disturbingly I don't know the best way to describe it besides "not artificial". It wasn't a super smooth kind of custard, as it held up to being sliced, but it didn't have structure like flan, so it was somewhere in between the two. Looking at the photo it seems like there's vanilla bean in it.

makin' pies
makin' pies

Even though the place is small, the pie making area behind the counter is pretty roomy. Roomy...for so much pie making! I felt happy for some reason, knowing that they were making pies while I was eating a pie and the guy next to me was eating a pie. Pie pie pie. Pie pie pie pie pie. They must make a lot of pies.

I've made chicken pot pie from scratch before, but it was kind of a long, annoying, "never gonna do that again" kind of thing, having to make the pastry, cut the chicken, make the gravy, cook the vegetables, and (over) bake it. So...screw that! I'M NEVER MAKING PIE AGAIN! (Although I wouldn't, even if the Tuck Shop didn't exist.)

So check out the Tuck Shop if you want pie. Even if you don't want pie, you should go there because then you will want pie! Nice how that works out, eh?


bowb / December 14, 2005 1:06 AM

oh yes! pie floater!! sometimes if you're lucky they will float the pie in mushy peas and then top it in a scoop of mashed potato, and then. they will make a little divet in the potato and fill it overflowing with gravy. yes!

Mahar / December 14, 2005 8:26 PM

Aackpth! I want PIE!

Filled with meat, swimming in chunks of tender pastry. Dum dee dum.

I like "floating my pie" by not the way some Aussies do it, which is to dump whatever the pie's supposed to float on with the pie. I like my float-soup, separate, thank you very much.

Something like...chew-on-meaty-pie-while-still-in-your-mouth-then-sip-on-hot-soup and let your get very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very happy.

Especially nice when pie is kinda tough and suddenly soup softens everything up; I equate it to soup and crackers. (Giant sized meaty crackers, I know.)

Lisa / December 14, 2005 9:01 PM

Yuck! We don't eat CHICKEN pies with tomato sauce (ketchup)! That would be gross! Just the beef ones (including the pie floater) and sausage rolls. And the shop calling them 'chook' pies is just plain wrong. I would call an actual alive chicken a 'chook' as a sort of endearment like 'kitty' for cat, but I wouldn't say we are having chook for dinner or a chook pie. Just thought I'd share. Vanilla slice yum!

Amy / December 14, 2005 10:29 PM

"float my pie" shall be my new catchphrase. In fact its already on my blog under Current Status

eastsidegirl / December 15, 2005 9:01 AM

This place sounds amazing--I'll have to check it out this weekend.

Have you been to Le French Diner on Orchard yet? I'm planning on going soon and want to get impressions from others.

Robyn / December 15, 2005 3:48 PM

bowb: Ooo, that would be fantastic with mashed potatoes! FLOATER AND MASSSHH!

Ani: Thanks! Foodies unite!

Mahar: Float-soup....mmm. I definitely like crackers in my soup. The only soup I really liked growing up was clam chowder and I'd dump oyster crackers in it. Good stuff. I can see how alternating soup and pie would be yummy.

Lisa: Ohh, I don't think ketchup and chicken would be that bad? I've had chicken fingers and ketchup many times, ehe. I didn't know chook was a term of endearment! :O Definitely not in my vocabulary, hehe.

Amy: All the kids will be saying it soon.

Marvo: Yeah, you're right. He looks kind of insane/dangerous.

eastsidegirl: Oo I haven't even heard of it before but I looked it up and MMM, TRUCK STOP FRENCH FOOD! I totally want some now! Let's go! Or I'll go...survey the premises first...and go to Sugar Sweet Sunshine...and...CUPCAKE (whoops, kinda drifted off there).

lori / December 16, 2005 5:13 AM

God, with that kind of sign, I'd probably camp out beside it or something. Eat pie, feel good. Ain't that the truth!

jo / July 5, 2009 1:12 AM

I found this page while looking up a definition of a pie floater... and I'm Australian. It came up because another Australian was telling my English husband about them, and thought they were English. The moral of the story is, they are not actually very typically Australian. Maybe in the 70s. But not anymore! Still, glad you enjoyed the pies.

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