An edited version of this post appeared on MilkBarMag.com on September 9th, 2013
F.T Tuckshop, a retail outlet of Food Traders Catering Company, offers South Melbourne something that not many other places do: quality lunch food at affordable prices for a working woman such as myself. While Coventry and Clarendon Streets are scattered with upmarket cafes geared towards a yuppy lunch crowd and low quality chains like Subway and KFC, F.T Tuckshop offers the middle ground, and a breath of fresh air.
Find it hidden out of the way on Charles St., and you’ll be met with a simple menu of old school jaffles, a smattering of subs, rolls, soups and daily specials, and, most likely, a crowd. The menu is seemingly ever increasing along with the line to order; on a recent visit there were new jaffles and milk shakes, a welcome addition with warm weather approaching (also a scorned addition, because bathing suit season exists) (On a subsequent visit, a salted caramel milkshake fell a bit flat). Seating is limited to a few sunny tables outdoors, but there are plenty of street benches nearby to compensate. Food can take upwards of ten minutes to emerge from the depths of the kitchen -- savvy eaters call ahead.
The rest of the menu is not to be ignored, however. The Meatball Sub may be the lunch spot’s most famed offering, and for good reason. Tender and moist meatballs are nestled into soft Italian bread with tomato sauce, melted mozzarella, fresh, whole basil, and plenty of mayo. It’s hard to exercise restraint once you’ve had it – rumours of whole offices full of meatball sub addicts abound. But, responsible meatball, cheese and mayo consumption is all about moderation. Intersperse instead with Auntie Elda’s Falafel, obviously made with love. (Chickpeas = healthy, right?) In wrap form, little green falafels are wrapped up in soft, thick flat bread with lots of garlicky sauce. All sandwiches and wraps cost just $8 and offer conscious eaters a choice of whole meal or white bread.
Coffee, cakes and sweet jaffles are available, and daily specials range from one-off jaffle creations and pizza by the slice, to pasta concoctions and lamb souvas. There’s certainly something new to try daily and almost never the obligation to spend over $10 to feel fulfilled. That’s something not many other places in South Melbourne can say, and F.T Tuckshop is all the better for it.
F.T Tuckshop: 2 Charles Street, South Melbourne, 3205, Australia 0497 660 246