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Couldda been a contenda Chowfind -Tucker's Marketplace - but still worthwhile lunch buffet.

polishjeweatswonderbread | Jun 11, 201608:48 AM

Tucker's Marketplace
15 Carlson Court – Hwy 27 & Dixon Road (off Attwell)
(Also a location in Burlington and in Ottawa)
tel: 416-675-8818
Lunch: Monday to Friday: 11:30am – 2:00pm
Dinner: Monday to Friday: 5:00pm – 9:00pm
Saturday: 4:30pm – 9:00pm
Sunday: 4:00pm – 9:00pm
Brunch: Sunday 11:30am – 4:00pm

Buffet. I go to Mother Tucker's for lunch when I crave a burger.
Lunch is $12.99 and very good if you follow my advice.
Supper is $21.99; $25.99 on weekends. No burgers, but they have additional items. No way at the price!
The problem at lunch isn't that they don't have enough items nor do they scrimp on ingredients. At supper, they don't offer the one item that I want that is very good, the burgers. I have never been here for supper; I should stop off just to have a look.
From memory from many years past, the head office Burlington location was markedly better than the others.

A year ago Mother Tucker's Etobicoke was on the edge of excellence. Well, close to the edge. Since then it has taken a large step backwards. You can still get a Chow-worthy lunch there, but do you ever need to be disciplined!
It is essential to follow the four big rules for success at the Tucker's trough because so much is not good. (a) Take a normal meal. Do NOT try a bit of everything. (b) Don't take what you like, take what is good. Unfortunately, you need to go through a couple times to figure out what is good. (c) Unless you have good reason to believe otherwise, the less cooking the better. (d) Avoid items based on an expensive ingredient Something's gotta give at the low price that they are charging.

This is my standard Tucker's lunch, and it is very good.
(a) Burger, sauteed mushroom and sauteed onions topping, a tomato slice or pickled beets on the bottom Try to get the burger chef to cook it a bit less (he has a thermometer!), ask him not to dump on the patty the salt - spice flavouring and to toast the bun on both sides, especially the outside.
(b) Baked chicken. Backs and drumsticks, tasty and meaty. There are two different preparations.
(c) Salad vegetables, but without dressing.
(d) Dessert - watermelon or the like.

Yum Yum. But now a tour of the rest.
I avoid the dairy items. (I observe kosher lite, real lite.) They have a quiche at the burger station that would be worth a try. The ice cream with accompanying toppings is a happy dessert. The ice- cream is London Dairy. I don't know it and I should try. Ibid., the rice pudding. At supper they have the pasta station, pasta made to request. I would have a veg- dairy meal at lunch if I could find happiness in the salad bar, but this trough is a vale of tears.

Executive management has a very good concept. They get excellent ingredients and have set simply prepared items. Unfortunately, the preparation is bad. Try a bit of the coleslaw or cucumber salad, (miseria in Polish). Virtually unpalatable. These items are representative of anything that is actually cooked, anything that requires any talent in preparation. So the forager's guide to the food is this. The more preparation, the worse it is. In particular, anything that depends on marinating or seasoning is a loser; or for that matter, anything that requires balance.

The tour.
1. You walk in. Flatbreads, which can be quite good. Trays of baked beets, sauteed onions; great idea, but presented so cold that they are spoiled. Nobody takes them- the mounds on the trays stay undisturbed.
2. The burger station. Good burgers, see above. Far better than the Toronto average particularly with the sauteed onions and mushrooms. The roast beef is eye of round and the cooking treatment doesn't work. Inoffensive fries, quite OK sweet potato chips, battered onion bits overwhelmed by the batter. Take some of the excellent corn chips instead. They are part of the taco section on a self -serve island.
2. Soup. The "prize winning" chili is too hot for me, but I can't handle heat. The other soups all sound good, but they are always screwed up. Too sweet, too salty, both, too mucky., too much of something else. Someone is sort of trying to follow a recipe but who has no cooking ability and doesn't know what the result is supposed to taste like. Indeed, a lot of the cooking is like this.
3. Breads are good as these things go, but who needs bread?
4. Cold salads. Take only what has not been processed in the kitchen. Pickled beets are an exception.
5. Other hot items. Some can be OK I suppose, if you get them when them when they are first put out, but what's the point? The burgers and chicken are very good, and they are enough. You are not here for what you would like, but for what is good.
6. Desserts. They have a good concept at the corporate level, but chose bad recipes. The desserts are too sweet, too soft, too oily; spineless. A perversion of comfort food. My Rosie "Julia" child, 13, does far better. They do have little butter tarts, (that's not Rosie) which are OK; they are fresh and it is hard to make them bad.

The kitchen brigade needs a leader but not a general. It needs a sergeant to kick the items - and staff - into shape. A good home cook, a French saucier, an army cook, anyone who knows what demands to make of the dish and has food sense. This person has to go through the offerings item by item.
Until such a person takes charge, the buffet will be (a) an exasperating disillusionment to the owners who do try so hard for their customers, (b) a frustration to customers who want a good meal and usually are not buffet gifted (c) a waste of good ingredients.
And much worse. A good idea -buffet- badly executed is worse than no idea at all because it discredits the idea.

Yum Yum Restaurant,
Tucker's Marketplace
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