Golden Spoons Review: Tukka

| 14/09/2018 | 17 Comments

Tukka, CNS Local Life(CNS Foodie): One fine Sunday afternoon we decided to travel to the eastern end of the island to partake in the perennially popular ritual of brunch at a restaurant that promised to offer it up with a twist. Tukka uniquely boasts an Australian-Caribbean fusion cuisine not found anywhere else on island.

We were more than ready to sample their take on brunch including such delicacies as kangaroo, lionfish and “tree chickens” (cleverly named to distract you from the fact that it is iguana).

The drive to East End is always relaxing and peaceful, particularly if you are starting at the opposite end of the island. Arriving at Tukka, that tranquility continues as you enter the door and feel the crosswinds that blow through the restaurant from the openings at the front and back, leading onto the outdoor patio overlooking the incomparable beauty of the Caribbean Sea. This backdrop never gets old and Tukka has situated itself to offer diners a full picturesque view from every angle.

The décor is an eclectic mish mash of Australian artifacts gilding the walls and tables, with Caribbean touches throughout, and a strange collection of toy cars that line the top of the indoor bar and arch over the main entrance. There is no real rhyme or reason to the décor; it presents as a museum of collected bits and bobs here and there over the years that had nowhere else to live. Charming in its variegated, higgledy-piggledy allure, Tukka feels like a refuge in the middle of the outback after a long walkabout.

Tukka, CNS Local Life

Sushi selection

The waiters were very friendly, but to our disappointment none were Australian. We passed through the main dining area, which was largely empty, as patrons opted for the patio seating to enjoy the unfettered view. We were given the choice of picking from the menu or proceeding directly to the brunch buffet. We opted for the latter.

At $30 per person ($15 for children 6-12), it is significantly less expensive than the Seven Mile brunches, which did make us a bit wary of what was on offer. (There is also a two-hour ‘Bottomless Bubbles’ option for an additional $22 each, which we did not choose.)

The buffet was set up in a smaller room at one end of the restaurant. There was a carving station with two slabs of meat, a beef and a pork option, as well as several sauces and gravies from which to choose. Large serving platters offered a spread of sushi – tuna, salmon or kangaroo – with the usual ginger, wasabi and wakame salad. A chilling station held bowls of potato salad, pastas and a variety of antipasto ingredients.

Moving around the room, you might find yourself in an awkward dance with other diners, bumping into them as everyone navigates the narrow area. We headed to the hot food section where a sign above two silver chafing pans suggested you ask the server about their eggs Benedict. We didn’t. The pans beneath held bacon, baked beans and small trays of basic breakfast offerings. That appeared to be the extent of it – this was definitely more of a lunch buffet.

Tukka, CNS Local Life

Grilled items

Instead we proceeded to a table of hot sides, uncovering silver lids to reveal rice, vegetables, potatoes, macaroni and other popular options to accompany the pans of BBQ ribs and jerk chicken. A makeshift grill was also set up outside to accommodate a selection of meats: skewered shrimp and chicken, conch fritters and fried fish.

Careful not to overload the plates, we took small portions of whatever looked most appetizing and headed back to our table. Once we were seated, our server arrived to take drink orders. Cocktails and brunch libations were cleverly posted on an empty wine bottle, all at “10 bucks”. I picked the Cayman lemonade: a tall glass of vodka, triple sec, peach schnapps, cranberry juice and a splash of soda.

Unfortunately, the combination of ingredients did not prove pleasant and the very stingy droplet of cranberry juice only served to give the drink a pinkish colour, without leaving any sweetness or flavour. The “splash” of soda overpowered the whole drink. Two sips and I pushed it away, annoyed. The bartender needed to sort his measurements or read the description. On the other hand, my date’s fruit punch was fresh and well blended. He ordered another one.

Back to the food. Being a fan of sushi, I tend to start there and work my way to the meats in between bites of whatever starch or veggie falls in the path of my fork. The sushi wasn’t bad, but there wasn’t anything special about it either. The kangaroo was only a small piece tucked into the wrap of seaweed and rice, so didn’t offer much to work with; I wasn’t sure if I liked it. The tuna and salmon were equally as unremarkable. I didn’t feel inclined to make a second trip, a rare decision for me when it comes to sushi.

Tukka, CNS Local Life

Salads

Next up was the grilled fare. Shrimp is high on my list, so I always grab a healthy serving when it’s on the buffet. There were two pieces attached to the wooden skewer, tails on and wrapped around a cut of sausage. I pulled them off first, removing the tails and prepared to dig in.

Unlike chicken or red meat, I don’t find that shrimp holds the flavour of pre-seasoning, so it’s something you must season as you cook or immediately after. This one appeared well covered in a variety of spices, but didn’t burst with flavour at first bite. The sausage, however, packed a bit of a punch with its spiciness. Otherwise, this item was cold and basic.

I left the rest to move onto the chicken. Strips of breast were woven onto a wooden skewer and cooked on an open flame. Although also cold, they were quite tasty and proved one of the more popular choices of the meal.

Different than most brunches, where the food is served in chafing pans under-lit by Sternos, Tukka’s layout meant that no heat source was available. Bite after bite, we were met with room-temperature food that was either under-seasoned, basic or simply not good.

My lunch date chose many of the same foods as I did with the same reactions. Being a fish person, he went with the fried snapper, which I didn’t try, but said it was tasteless and hard, as if it had been cooked much earlier and left to sit for too long. A few bites in and he gave up.

Tukka, CNS Local Life

Side dishes

He also gave the lionfish kebab a go, and seemed quite pleased with this one, making two more trips to fill his plate once he’d tasted everything else and refused to keep eating what he didn’t like. Simple in its presentation, the lionfish was cut into strips that were breaded and fried and served on a skewer, with tartar sauce as a condiment option.

The conch fritters were more flour than meat and, as with everything else, were cold and largely lacking flavour. Lastly, the red meats. The carvery offered a brisket and pork loin. I chose the former and, although it was a bit cold despite the heating lamp, it was flavourful and relatively tender. The BBQ ribs were pretty good, too, featuring a tangy sweet sauce over a pork rib that pulled right off the bone.

We sat back, plates still quite full of rejected chow in all colours and textures, and representing all levels of the food pyramid. Not surprising, we were still hungry but not interested in attempting to finish what was left to satisfy the emptiness.

The waitress cleared our plates but didn’t ask if anything was wrong with the meal, which I felt was odd since she was collecting dishes still loaded with uneaten food. Either they were accustomed to this outcome, or perhaps people generally just filled up more than they could eat, leaving more waste behind than would be normal with an à la carte meal. Nonetheless, we didn’t complain and they didn’t seem concerned.

Tukka, CNS Local Life

Dessert assortment

But there was still dessert… Trays, platters and mini cups and saucers presented an assortment of sugary treats, including toffee pudding, crème brûlée, carrot cake, brownies, chocolate cake, muffins, fruits, mousse and bread pudding. Of the many two-bite choices, I liked the mousse and bread pudding the most and the cassava cake the absolute least. The latter did not resemble anything close to a traditional cassava cake and left me wondering if they’d simply mislabelled it. But then again, it didn’t resemble anything I have every eaten before either, so I couldn’t even begin to pinpoint what it might have actually been.

Plates with half-eaten desserts before us, we decided to cut our losses and request the cheque.

Tukka would be well advised to re-evaluate their brunch and perform some upgrades. People take food seriously and it’s a long drive to East End, but I’m willing to make the trip for a good meal – and that’s important for a restaurant that would otherwise depend on the nearby residents or tourists, particularly in the off-season.

The total bill for two was $96.03, which included 15% gratuity.

Tukka website

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Category: Brunch, Golden Spoons Review

Comments (17)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    The food has definitely gone down hill over recent years and the brunch more so than other options.
    They’ve taken their eye off the ball and got greedy, along with most food and drink establishments in the eastern and northern districts.

    Time for a re-boot people. Let stop patronising expensive ordinary and insist on good quality affordable local food, reasonably priced drinks and true Caribbean vibes. Personally, I find the whole fine dining/ fusion thing over rated, over priced and worse, over here.
    And don’t fall for the local lion fish tacos or kebabs crap, they are imported fish because they have found it’s cheaper than paying a local supplier.

  2. Sharon says:

    Thanks for the reviews was planning on taking my family there for brunch but now I’m not sure. Don’t have $$ to waste on bad food.

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    • Anonymous says:

      These comments are confusing. I been there many times and always enjoyed my meals. Tukka has fantastic reviews on Tripadvisor and FB. Very strange indeed…

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  3. Anonymous says:

    Terrible menu and horrible food! They rely on their frigate bird feeding gimmick to get customers in the door!

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  4. Anonymous says:

    Probably my favourite restaurant on Island – don’t do brunch so cannot comment on the food from there – but from the menu always great, and the staff are fantastic – efficient, friendly and kind to my family. Looking out to the reef and the remains of the Ridgefield and Ten Sail beneath, with Frigate birds wheeling around and tarpon and nurse sharks lazing away in the shallows, makes you think about where you are in this world.

    Plus it is basically as far away from the 7MB BS as you can get.

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    • Anonymous says:

      If you want to get out of SNB try Italian Kitchen across from Morrit’s. It doesn’t disappoint.

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      • Anonymous says:

        I don’t think I will drive an hour just for a plate of pasta or a pizza in a closed space. Tukka has amazing view with a breeze, frigot bird feeding, baby sharks in the water and great food (my humble opinion which is not Golden enough).

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        • Anonymous says:

          Shark feeding is 100% illegal! and Frigate bird feeding should also be illegal! Will DOE ever step in and do something about this!?!?

          This place is changing the behavior of wild animals to try and get people to eat their crappy food!

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  5. Anonymous says:

    maybe we should stop eating animals for food?….disaster for the environment, animals and peoples health….

  6. Anonymous says:

    The food there has been growing steadily bad to the extent that even the burger and the bangers and mash are just not good anymore. Waste of time and money.

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  7. Anonymous says:

    I’m not a buffet person, so can’t comment on it, but the ala carte food at night is not very good and there are often strange breakdowns in service. At the beginning it was pretty good, but it suffered a sharp decline over the last two years and we have crossed it off our list.

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  8. Europian says:

    I love Tukka reataurant . Great menu, uniquie food, friendly staff, Amazing view . Love going there

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  9. deni says:

    i went to Tukka for brunch.was amazing.staff is great…food is delicious… great view…its a great deal. deffinately comming back

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  10. Anonymous says:

    Tukka has been a monthly destination for me and my friends. After a relaxing long drive there is: great drinks, good value for brunch (plus a la cart available-many restaurants do not allow that), AMAZING view, promptly service…I don’t think you should expect amazing sushi in an Australian restaurant. Those shrimps with sausage from the BBQ and lion-fish fillet is my favorite so we must have very different taste buds. If you prefer a Ritz Carlton type of set up you should avoid brunches priced $30. You must assume by the price that it is not gonna be satisfying for your palate. We do not agree with your opinion or “review”

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    • A Golden Spooner =0) says:

      Valid point re expecting amazing sushi in an Australian restaurant…however, if you are going to add it to the menu, then be sure it is decent, or don’t serve it…whatever your ethnicity, cuisine or taste.

      The lionfish was very good…we do not differ there.

      Good food doesn’t have to be expensive…I do not have expensive tastes and enjoy a $10 meal at a local hole in the wall as much or more than an overpriced one.

      In asking people about Tukka before I went, I received a 100% thumbs down rate, with the same sentiments as some of the comments here – that there has been a noticeable decline in the quality of their food over the years. I went with an open mind but I am I am honest about the way I feel about food and think it serves the restaurant a disservice not to let them know where they can improve.

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    • Anonymous says:

      I have had two (2) bad experiences here. One when doing a staycation – we went to dinner way before the restaurant closes and there was NO ONE there. The “hostess” was upset that we showed up when we had a reservation.
      The second was a brunch that I recommended to friends and I was so embarrassed that it was so terrible after the drive

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