The nursery rhythm goes that Little Tommy Tucker sings for his supper and there were plenty of hungry diners happy ‘to sing’ for their food on the night I visited the new establishment in Fulham, that has been opened by the team behind the critically acclaimed Claude’s Kitchen.
The Tommy Tucker opened its doors in Fulham’s Waterford Road, a good one iron from Fulham Broadway Tube station, in mid-January on the site formerly occupied by the popular with locals Pelican pub. Its name is actually inspired by cockney rhyming slang, Tommy Tucker ‘supper’.
The team behind the venture are Claude Compton, Jim Morris and George McCabe who say their aim is to turn it into the pub they would choose to call their local.
Compton says: "As a chef, people assume you will open a gastro pub. We aim for The Tommy Tucker to transcend this label. Yes, it will have a very unique and strong food and drink offering but we ultimately aim for it to be the best version of what a traditional pub should be, a fun meeting place and the pub we would choose to drink in."
Well on the night I visited – one of the coldest of the winter – it seemed that aim had already been achieved in the few weeks since the doors were open to the locals in Fulham. It was 7pm and the place was pretty much packed, another hour later and it was heaving with people drinking happily at the small bar or eating with not a spare seat to be found in the house, which can cater for 80 covers.
So already Compton must be doing something right with a hearty menu that reflects the imaginative and colourful style of cooking he is renowned for at neighbourhood restaurant Claude's Kitchen, based in Parsons Green, which has won him many plaudits from diners and critics and which I raved about when I visited in 2013 .
Although the smart zinc surround bar with its stools is a feature of the founder's affection and desire to create a typical London boozer atmosphere at The Tommy Tucker, the high ceilinged dining also area stands out in its own right. One part looks out onto the open kitchen while we were seated in a cosy alcove area where candles flickering on the rustic wooden tables created a feeling of warmth and comfort and the wallpaper of assorted sheet music is to be admired as is the mismatch of vintage seating and the wooden tables’ rustic appearance.
Early plus points to our evening are complimentary bottles of water and blue and white tea towel napkins, so much better than those awful paper ones that disintegrate as soon as you even look at them.
The menu is split into sections; meat, fish, fruit and veg and on the side, with starters or sharing plates clearly indicated.
My starter of wood pigeon (£7) was Ok but no showstopper although it was nicely balanced with mixed berries, a bitter leaf salad and tiny hints of lavender. Fiona’s brown crab cakes (£8) sat like three little beauties on the plate, were crispy and bursting with plenty of flavoursome crab and served with a decent roast garlic mayo and lovage.
For a bitter winter’s night my main of cooked as requested flavoursome medium rare chunks of chargrilled Lamb (£17.50) brought a warm glow to the plate. The meat sat well with perfectly cooked earthy root vegetables, which included carrots, beetroot and parsnips, and a tangy mushroom ketchup which helped lift the dish from being just ordinary to a good plate of food.
Fiona devoured her melt in the mouth smoked beef short-rib (£18.50) which simply fell off the bone and was nicely offset by a salsa verde and tasty Arrocina ‘baked beans’. We also enjoyed a side of glowing sprout tops and anchovy (£3.50) which added good texture and colour to both dishes.
Another star of the evening was our bottle of 2012 Crocera Barbera d’Asti Italy (£24.00) – ‘a chunky beast of a Barbera; like a Merlot that’s been on the whey protein.’
We found room to squeeze in a couple of decent puds which both hit the mark. My cox apple quince crispy pie with cinnamon ice cream (£6) was a well-crafted desert and a good way to round of the meal. Fiona thoroughly enjoyed her chocolate, raisin and infused rum choc ice (£6.50) but the real star was the divine salted caramel cream it came with. Not a fan of cream, she let me have the whole lot, yum, yum.
There is a lot to like about at The Tommy Tucker, not least the food and the alert and well-paced service. Its early days but the combination of dining with the pub theme seems to sit quite comfortably together and punters are happy to sing for their supper from the talented Compton and his team.