Wednesday, January 11, 2017
For months, my mother has been raving about a restaurant she and her friend have frequented several times. “I just know you'll like it; you really must check it out.” We finally did go to Tucker's last weekend, and Mom was absolutely right.
Owners Erica and Hale Cole-Tucker have locations in Hooksett, Concord and New London; we went to Hooksett, their first restaurant, on a snowy Saturday a little before noon. There was a 25-minute wait that didn't seem horrid, since we had a really extensive menu to peruse and self-serve coffee in the meantime. When Mom and her friend go during the week, they've never had to wait for a table.
Tucker's prides itself on friendly service, and there wasn't a weak link in that chain to be found. The young ladies at the front door handing out the pagers to those waiting were unflaggingly cheerful and smiling, despite how incredibly busy it was. Neither our server Geanina or any other server we observed looked impatient or harried, and the table turnarounds were done quickly and efficiently. This is a well-oiled machine of employees, and my kudos to the owners on that.
Mom also knew I'd love Tucker's commitment to locavore dining. They have nearly a dozen listed local sources for farm produce and meat, baked goods and coffee. And my other favorite words, “organic” and “gluten-free options,” were also in attendance.
Tucker's is open daily from 7 a.m.-2 p.m., serving breakfast and lunch. I was impressed with the quantity and variety of dishes available.
Breakfast offerings include a half-dozen takes on eggs Benedict, as well as omelets, skillets and scrambles; carbs featured are pancakes, waffles, French toast and steel-cut oatmeal – upgrade those pancakes to “Power cakes,” which are housemade organic, gluten-free pancakes made with eggs, flax seed, ground chia and real NH maple syrup from Fuller's Sugarhouse; and there are many breakfast-stuffed paninis, wraps and burritos, along with parfaits and 10 specialty dishes. Phew!
Lunch runs the gamut of sandwiches, wraps, four daily soups, several grilled cheese variations, and many beautiful salads. There are smoothies and boosters galore, plus tea, chai, and organic, fair-trade, locally roasted coffee. My mother is also happy this is a Pepsi restaurant, which seems scarce these days.
Mom was willing to try something new for the sake of my review, but I told her to get what she already knew she loves: The Parisian sandwich ($9.50). It's a grilled focaccia with creamy brie cheese, sweet fig spread, grilled chicken, hickory bacon and baby spinach. Served with chips and a pickle. I'm so glad she did! I snagged my bite, and that is a perfectly balanced delight of a sandwich. Sweet, savory, soft, crunchy … elevated, but down-to-earth. Home run.
I almost got her friend's recent choice, the toasted berry salad ($9.95): Baby spinach and mixed greens topped with fresh blueberries, strawberries and blackberries, toasted almonds, cucumbers, tomatoes, havarti dill cheese, housemade chicken salad and cranberry vinaigrette. If I can force myself not to get The Parisian, I'll get this next time.
I chose instead to order off the breakfast menu, with a Monterey omelet ($9.50): Three eggs, pepper-jack cheese, pico de gallo, pulled chicken, topped with fresh sliced avocado and a drizzle of chipotle sauce. I also selected a delicious marble rye toast (paging “Seinfeld” fans!). If you're wondering, as my mother was, how pulled chicken tastes in an omelet, let me tell you: it's fantastic. We were blown away at how good it was, in fact.
I looked at the specials menu as well (like there weren't enough options!) and upgraded my hashbrowns to the special red quinoa, spinach and Vermont cheddar ones; they were hearty. I also tried the mocha java coffee special, which featured dark Ghiradelli chocolate ($3.50). There it is in the photo of my omelet; I'm lucky to have even snapped this shot of a half-filled mug, as it was so delicious I could barely put it down.
My daughter got three “from scratch” buttermilk cakes ($6.25), scrambled eggs and sausage patties (less than $2 each). Again I snagged myself a bite, and the pancakes had a great body and chew to them. The maple syrup was also very good. She liked the sausage very much.
They also have sizeable kids' menus for breakfast and lunch. Along with the usual suspects (mac n cheese, grilled cheese, PB&J), they also have a great idea: Tucker's Lunch Box ($5.95) has them choose five of nine ingredient options (e.g., sliced turkey, baby carrots, cheese sticks, blueberries, etc.) to build their perfect meal.
How Tucker's also manages to have a drive-thru window and offer catering is amazing to me. But again, this is clearly a well-oiled machine and labor of love for those involved. And that shows from top to bottom, front of the house to back.
Kathleen Palmer can be reached at 594-1255, firstname.lastname@example.org or @NHFoodand Fun and @Telegraph_KathP.
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