The gold and raspberry-rose walls at Tucker’s shelter a lot of secrets and stories — both of the place itself and the surrounding Eastside neighborhood. Jennifer White knows many of them, and she’s slowly learning about more.
Jenn and her husband Jeff White, until recently the chef at Boiler House, and along with partner Jeret Peña have taken over Tucker’s from Chris Cullum of fried chicken fame. And if they’ve left the storied interior, complete with its galley of magazine covers such as Ebony, largely intact, they’re molding the menu in their own image. At a recent lunch launch (lunch is 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays), the kitchen trotted out an insanely over-stuffed sando of pulled pork with cheddar and provolone cheeses studded with kernels of Mexican street corn, all bracketed between slabs of hefty Texas toast. Fries dusted with grated parm and herbs are the default accompaniment, and the combination is quasi-lethal.
The same fries accompany the Kozy burger, an equally over-upholstered affair draped in melty American cheese. There’s more on this burger than I would normally tolerate, especially as it’s a very tender patty, but it all works. Try it (or anything, for that matter) with spicy/salty fried pickles and one of the house’s freshly shaken daquiris ($8). The cucumber (there’s also strawberry and blackberry) was even better than the straight, non-flavored version which arrived a little sweet for me. (A lesson can be learned here at bar partner Peña’s Brooklynite, where the daiquiri is a paragon of tart, limey virtue.)
WTF Spicy Chicken, a fried fish sando, and a San Antonio Philly with shaved prime rib and jalapeño are also available. There’s a daily Blue Plate Special. The same menu plus fried chicken, for those who associate Tucker’s with the clucker, is available at night. Then there's the $5 happy hour snacks which include Frito Pie and a fried bologna burger.
As if the couple didn’t have enough on their plate, they are working on opening another place on the I-35 access road in Government Hill — an historic ‘hood with its own stories to tell. To be called the Eastside Kitchenette, look for it in early summer.
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