Tempting Tuchka

An accomplished bakery steps up its game.

'Tuchka' restaurant (photo credit: PR)
'Tuchka' restaurant
(photo credit: PR)
Tempting Tuchka An accomplished bakery steps up its game • By BUZZY GORDON The slogan on the front of the handsome gray building that reads “Bread, butter and what’s in between” already whets your appetite. Indeed, as soon as you walk through the door of the Tuchka bakery in Petah Tikva, you are surrounded by a tantalizing array of loaves of bread in a variety of shapes and sizes, some glistening with seeded toppings.
And you don’t have to wait to get a taste. On a central counter bearing a selection of seductive stuffed focaccias sits a tray of small sample slices, complete with a little saucer of eminently spreadable butter.
The purpose of our visit, however, was not to shop for bread, cake or cookies, which are all on abundant display, including sugar-free and gluten-free selections. We were there to appraise the bakery’s foray into the restaurant business, starting with its recent launch of a winter menu.
Tuchka is primarily a self-service restaurant, although a waiter will serve you at your table once you place your order at the counter. The menu is not extensive. It is in Hebrew only, and there is not necessarily anyone on hand who speaks English.
There is one soup of the day (NIS 32), and it comes with a basket of freshly baked breads, grated Parmesan cheese and pretzel croutons. That day it was sweet potato soup. It was unusually savory, seasoned with a detectable dose of cumin. With the addition of the cheese and crunchy croutons, it was hearty, filling and very good.
As we waited for our pasta course, we tried one of the four salads, with the unusual name Rosenthals (NIS 56). A whole sliced pear poached in wine sat atop a generous bed of mixed greens. The salad was studded with candied pecans and shavings of blue cheese and dressed with just the right amount of a superb mustard vinaigrette. The disparate ingredients came together in a harmonious symphony of flavors and textures, resulting in the standout dish of the day.
The pasta, too, held out a great deal of promise, especially given the moniker “Pasta with a lot of mushrooms” (NIS 54). It was probably not a good idea to raise expectations in that way, since the dish comes with an ordinary amount of mushrooms, mixed with thick spirals of fresh radiatori pasta.
This unusual pasta is notoriously difficult to cook al dente; and, sure enough, it was a tad on the mushy side. That said, the chunky mushrooms were fresh and meaty, and the cream sauce rich without being overpowering.
Good-quality mushrooms with pasta in an Alfredo-style sauce and Parmesan cheese is invariably a winning combination, and this version did not disappoint.
The roasted eggplant ravioli listed on the menu was not available, but it gave us the opportunity to try one of Tuchka’s stuffed focaccias (NIS 14).
Selecting one from among all the appetizing-looking creations was not easy, but we finally decided on the artichoke. Happily so, as the buttery, crusty, chewy loaf was filled very proportionately with the delicious, tender vegetable.
Tuchka does not serve any alcoholic beverages, but it makes natural fruit juices on the spot, so we had freshly squeezed and prepared orange juice and carrot juice (NIS 11).
Not surprisingly, the dessert options in a bakery are plentiful, so we asked the waitress for her recommendation. She brought us a chocolate log called Pino (NIS 25). Actually, it consisted of praline mousse layered among thin wafers of cake and drenched in a coating of chocolate frosting made with 70% cocoa. It was decadently rich and brought to mind a gourmet version of a Kit Kat bar.
Finally, I couldn’t resist trying a wedge of the cheesecake I had seen in the refrigerated display case (NIS 25). It, too, reminded me of a commercial treat from back home: the classic Sara Lee cheesecake with sour cream frosting. Definitely a pleasurable trip down memory lane, and the perfect companion to the excellent latte (NIS 10/12).
Tuchka, which is open all day until 10 p.m., offers an afternoon deal (12:30 to 5 p.m.): antipasto, a main course and a beverage for NIS 45.
It would be hard to come into this “bakery plus” and not find something to like.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.
6 Derech Rabin, Petah Tikva
Tel: 054-771-7152