A common lament of people working in or visiting the Docklands precinct of Melbourne has been the ‘soulless’ feel of the area. Despite the opening of many large corporate offices in the area, the continual increase in the number of apartments being built, and the associated increase in people in the area, there is still a distinct lack of eating and drinking establishments that one would actually want to visit.
Enter Tukk & Co, a new cafe and casual eatery that is looking to change the vibe and image of Docklands. Tukk & Co claims to be the first ‘laneway cafe’ in Docklands, however we question whether you can call the space between the NAB and Medibank buildings past the footbridge on the west side of Southern Cross station a laneway. In any case, it’s a moot point.
It would be easy to miss the simple frontage of Tukk & Co – a single poster in the window is the only indication of the food that might be served within. Apparently this is due to the regulations imposed on traders in the area which restrict the amount of external advertising that is permitted to improve uniformity which we think is a bit of a shame. City planners take note – you do not make an area vibrant by eliminating the opportunity for expression and individuality.
The inside of Tukk & Co is a split-level space – on the top floor is a coffee-shop style setup serving single origin coffee and simple lunch foods such as croissants and salads. One of the aims of the team at Tukk & Co (one of whom formerly worked as an architect) is to create a ‘haven’ for office workers in Docklands with a non-corporate feel and to this end the interior has been designed to be distinct from the otherwise dominant use of concrete and metal. The extensive use of wood and round corners on the benches both creates a warmth that contrasts against the cold feel of the rest of the area and also echoes the Medibank building in which the venue is located.
Angular shapes have been used extensively on the ceiling to reflect the NAB building across the way. We really liked the way that the interior design had been so thoroughly thought out.
Downstairs is a separate counter and a full service kitchen that uses a similar design motif to the upper level. The team at Tukk & Co aimed to create a range of food that can be eaten ‘on the go’ by busy office workers, but which is more interesting than the typical sandwiches and rolls that are available at city cafes. To this end the menu offers an interesting array of Asian buns, burgers and tacos, all of which can be readily eaten with one hand.
For those with the time to sit down and eat there is also a casual dining area. Again the space has been well designed with the use of light colours, soft lighting and plant life creating a relaxing environment to spend one’s lunch break.
Spicy Chicken Taco ($5,50) & Beef Bulgogi Taco ($5.60)
The first thing that we sampled was the soft shell tacos, which came in spicy chicken, bulgogi and calamari varieties of which we tried the first two. The very first thing that we noticed was the heavy layer of parmesan on the tacos which we found overwhelmed the ingredients underneath – we would suggest that less parmesan be used with the option for customers to add extra cheese to taste. Once we got through this we enjoyed the flavours and the combination of ingredients, particularly the spicy chicken – although we thought this could potentially have been spicier (but this might not be to all diners’ taste).
Roast Pork Belly, BBQ Pork & Mushroom Buns ($4,50 each)
Next we sampled three of the four buns on offer (the fourth, in the bottom right, contains lemongrass beef with Vietnamese salad and dressing) which are made entirely in house daily. The roast pork belly was definitely the pick of the lot, the pork was well cooked with the right mix of meat and fat and good crispiness from the skin, the slaw gave extra crunch and the sweet chilli sauce in particular gave the bun a nice subtle kick. The BBQ pork bun also worked well combining good flavour from the pork with an Asian slaw and pickled mustard for crunch and kick. The mushroom bun was disappointing by comparison, we found that there was either not enough teriyaki sauce or that the sauce itself was not sufficiently flavoursome so the overall taste was rather bland.
Single Origin Coffee ($3,70)
Finally, we couldn’t leave without sampling the coffee, which if you look at their website is what Tukk & Co are all about. The team have linked up with some of Melbourne’s best coffee roasters, including Proud Mary and Market Lane Coffee to bring a differentiated coffee experience. On this occasion we tried the blend from El Salvador which had berry undertones and was definitely a step up from the coffee that is more generally available in the city. The custom printed cups were a nice touch also.
Tukk & Co offers good, reasonably priced food that provides a more interesting alternative typical sandwiches in an environment that is a refreshing change from the rest of the Docklands. We would say that the team have made a good start at trying to change the vibe and image of the area and would recommend that anyone who works in Docklands pop down there for a coffee and/or some lunch.
Tukk & Co
8/720 Bourke Street
Telephone: (03) 9642 4724
Coffee, Mon-Fri: 7:00am to 4:00pm
Food, Mon-Fri: 11:30am to 2:30pm