Tucker is the kind of restaurant for which you root. The location, just east of Central Expressway on Ross Avenue, is definitely urban, if off the beaten path. It has a funky, nostalgic feel, with a warm and cozy fireplace bordered by shelves lined with books and vintage wine bottles. The long bar is a great place to hang. And the always-rotating menu showcases well-thought-out, upscale dishes, even if the space itself is void of pretense.
Oh how I wish the food were perfect. It started off well. Fried green tomatoes with a refreshingly light crab “salad” (a generous garnish, really) had just the right amount of cornmeal crust. The sound of pizza with mozzarella, ricotta, anchovy, and white truffle oil—one of many fantastic, inspired combinations of toppings—certainly excited my taste buds. But the flaccid crust couldn’t stand up to the weighty cheeses, and I struggled to find a hint of truffle oil. And I have to tell you: it was weird that it arrived on a linen napkin-lined plate.
Syrah-braised short ribs, however, left my tablemate pleased as punch. Meat fell from the bone in strings, as it should, and it had that hearty depth of flavor that you expect from slow-cooked beef. The accompanying mashed potatoes were overwhelmed with chunks of onions, but what’s meat without potatoes?
But here’s why I will return to Tucker: the wine list is chock full of ridiculously well-priced selections, including a $27 Liberty School Syrah that our waiter claimed was marked up to nearly $70 elsewhere. The chocolate-peanut butter crème brûlée was utterly swoon-worthy, arriving in a small ramekin that afforded only a few bites for each of us. Not too big, not too small. It was just right. 3113 Ross Ave. 214-389-1313. $$.
Update: Tucker has closed.