Tuck Shop Matakana

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Tuck Shops don’t always conjure up memories of exceptional food, but this one will dispel any lingering aftertastes. You can’t miss Tuck Shop Matakana, the new eatery outside the Matakana cinema. It’s a very deliberate green – owner Dan Paine says, “We wanted it to stand out! It’s a fresh take on a classic colour, and we wanted it to evoke nostalgia – school canteens, uniforms and diners.” Inside, there are other greens: the British Racing Green of the menus and powder-coated coffee machine; the forest green (and fresh white) tiling; the lime pop of the stools and the soft duck-egg of the banquette seating. Vintage metal school chairs outside came from Java – sourced by Old School Inc. in Matakana. They’ll soon be joined by green bean bags which can be reclined upon outside in the cinema courtyard.

Anna and Dan haven’t mucked around with architect Noel Lane’s existing design of the space, which was initially envisaged as a nod to a tram-car (check out the interior ceiling). ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’, was their philosophy. This applied to other things too. “One of the first decisions we made was to retain both the OOB icecream brand and the OOB shop manager, Nadia,” says Dan. “She’s such a people person, and gives the whole place an incredibly welcoming feel. Lindy Neumann is in charge of the food overall – she’s a passionate food professional who’s been working on refining the Tuck Shop menu for months.”

Co-owner Anna Didsbury says, “We’ve been amazingly lucky with the people who’ve been involved in the start-up of the Tuck Shop. Nadia and Lindy threw themselves into it with such passion. Our friends Tana Mitchell and Emma Kanuik of Akin Design too – they were responsible for the aesthetic, and they had a great time with it.” The logo says it all.

There’s a small and crafted menu of wittily-named classics with a twist. There are New York-style pressed sandwiches (The Rube, the Cube – Reuben and Cuban), great burgers on demi-brioche buns with vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options. They do a range of interesting salads, and plenty of yummy stuff for the kids, too.

Sweets can be raw and sugar free: a raw blueberry cheesecake for example – or you can go all-out and create your own outrageous decadent chewy cookie and OOB ice-cream sandwich. And nothing on the menu is more than $15 – burgers are $13, kid’s meals (Tiny Tucks) are no more than $8.

It’s nice to know that everything is free-range and locally sourced where possible. And all the packaging (including the Eighthirty coffee-cups and lids) is plant-based and compostable. Anna is keen to initiate sustainable waste disposal so they’re also supplying their own compost bins.

These two have an earnest and utterly sincere desire to be as good as they can possibly be. Their aims are modest: “We want to be the best cinema and hospitality experience in the country,” says Dan. “And to be the best employers, too,” adds Anna. Their ambition is most definitely our gain.

2 Matakana Valley Road | Open 8am-4.30pm seven days, till 8pm Fri-Sat