Fulham’s always been a slightly funny place to go out for dinner. It’s not that it doesn’t have good restaurants – the Harwood Arms rejoices (in my opinion slightly undeservedly) in a Michelin star for its high-class pub food, Claude Bosi’s establishment the Malthouse is dependably classy and some of the best ockabasi food this side of Turkey can be found at the very fine Best Mangal. But what it’s always slightly lacked is the sort of place that feels on trend in 2015 London, whether it’s a top-notch ramen restaurant, somewhere experimenting with street food and somewhere serving a mixture of sharing-style small plates and unusual, beautifully cooked ingredients to delicious effect.
You won’t find any ramen in the converted pub The Tommy Tucker, run by top chef Claude Compton, James Morris and George McCabe, but Compton’s street food experience, derived from his time running the much-loved Green Goat van, has fed into the atmosphere here, making for a delightful place to pop in for a meal. The name – Cockney rhyming slang for ‘supper’ – indicates what the founders have in mind; something unpretentious, approachable and fun., where the staff (apparently drawn mainly from the owners’ friends) are atypically friendly and approachable. If you wanted to pop in for a pint and some bar food (the scallop & beetroot skewers are apparently especially good), you could have a top-notch meal for rather less than a burger and chips in some inferior establishments.
However, if you’re in it for the full dining experience, then there will be some great treats in store. The menu is divided into intriguing-sounding sections – ‘meat’, ‘fish’, ‘fruit & veg’ and ‘on the side’. All are relatively self-explanatory. Several dishes are marked with an s, meaning either ‘starter’ or ‘sharing’; never having been much of one for sharing plates (innate selfishness or simple common sense? You decide), we went with the more predictable starter-main-pudding option. A dish of scallops and chorizo was served with radish and was very good, as well as being the perfect size for an appetising morsel; my friend’s ‘rabbit & its liver terrine’ was bigger, bolder and better, a feat then repeated by his main course. I stuck to what I knew and sampled the pork chop with charred hispi and bacon; he went off piste and was rewarded with a stunning smoked beef short-rib, the equal of many things I’ve had in considerably more expensive establishments. Washed down with a bottle of Argentinean Tannat (described on the menu as ‘the cooler, older brother of Malbec who left behind the rock ‘n’ roll life for some rural solitude’), it was all exceptionally good.
We just about had some room for dessert, and the choc, raisin & infused rum ice cream caught both of our eyes, and so rather than fight over it we both plumped for it. While ‘plumped’ was probably the right word – on the grounds that our waistlines will probably not thank us for our indulgence – we were relieved that it was of the same high calibre as everything else, and so our departure was a merry and cheerful one. The Tommy Tucker, then, is just what Fulham needed, a jolly and happy place where the food is excellent, the welcome warm and the selfish and selfless catered for in equal measure. I look forward to a return there soon.
The Tommy Tucker, 22 Waterford Road, SW6. Website.