Located along Route 8 on the right side if you are headed into Connecticut, and near the Farmington River, MJ Tuckers promotes beer and pizza. And Keno. Looking at the logo one may think – American/Italian and English Pub. The interior ambiance owes much more to Southern Country.
I arrived about 1 pm last Friday, when the joint was fairly empty. Crossing the threshold one could scent the unmistakable sweet aroma of yesterday’s hops. Country music played from a box in the corner.
When I’ve passed this place by on weekends, it’s always looked crowded and hopping. A fair amount of motorcycles and 4 by 4’s. I was glad to give it a try on a calmer weekday, since I am not a crowd-scene person, although it was at first intimidating to sit at the bar with all the other customers — simply because many of whom were dining suds-only, without lunch.
I bucked the tide. I ordered water. (I had nearly another hour and a half to drive home. I drink, but I don’t drink and drive…)
MJ Tucker’s promotes their pizza, but not being in the mood for pizza just then, I chose from the other offerings. Ordered their cup of French onion soup, and their hog shank appetizer (which was supposed to come with six shanks). This menu option seemed to fit in with the country decor (which included many taxidermy bucks’ heads) and music, and the idea intrigued me anyway. I had no idea how big a hog shank was going to be — small, large? If large, did most clients share with their companions, like a platter of nachos gets shared, even though that’s an appetizer? I like country music, so I was fine with the ambiance — they didn’t play it so loud that conversations would be halted. Indeed I was able to step away from my seat at the bar to take a call from my veterinarian without having to go outdoors to hear her. (I didn’t want to inflict my bar-mates with our conversation.)
Meanwhile, I could play Keno if I wanted – generous Keno cards and pencils were provided on the counter. I opted to play with my phone instead (neither Keno NOR Pokemon GO)! (I checked e-mail, mostly. Yeah, boring!) I didn’t get a signal that this place was customer wi-fi adapted, but I suspect it’s rather rare to have that in the area I was travelling.
The soup was serviceable but not great. It lacked some in the flavor department, and I think they only used mozzarella as the cheese, and a rather washed-out broth, but there were lots of onions. But this is not the sort of place you want to rely on French Onion Soup to define your menu.
The hog shanks were terrific, however! They’re small, and very, very lightly breaded, with a mildly-peppery seasoning. They were tender and not greasy. They (5, not six, but it didn’t matter, because I was plenty full) came with two mini corn muffins, which were also enjoyable. The muffins were not terribly sweet, as such things often can be, and were just deliciously warmed before delivery. They didn’t need butter, which was fine since butter wasn’t supplied. (I am sure you can ask for it.) The shanks didn’t need the Russian dressing that was supplied on the side — I tried them both ways and I was just as content to leave the dressing behind. Although the dressing does work if you want it.
There is an extensive pizza menu, and noting how many vehicles line up outside here on weekends, I’m guessing this menu is popular. I didn’t see any sign of artisanal beers (I didn’t look, but I did read things readily available), but Sam Adams (this IS Massachusetts) is on tap. Service was friendly.
I’m holding off on rating this restaurant overall, as French onion soup is probably not a main selling point in a place such as this, and there was a big dichotomy between the two items I ordered. I’ll definitely be back, though. So, the below just rates the menu items I ordered.
French Onion soup: I rate this 3.0 (out of 5.0). It is okay, but bland. I’d order it again but I think I’d much rather explore the rest of the menu, first.
Hog shanks with corn bread mini-muffins: I rate this 4.5. I’m so into these!
It appears they are closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.