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Our Gourmet: Big servings, smiles at Tuckaway Tavern and Butchery

58 Route 27, Raymond NH

Earlier this year, the Tuckaway Tavern and Butchery opened in the big, barnlike former Yankee Market building in Raymond. Not only is the place large, but the portions are as well. You will have plenty for dinner, and for lunch the next day. If you live in the big city, it's worth the 20-minute trip east to Raymond. It's a great place for a casual date or for a quick bite after work.

Menu: 8/10

Compared to the menus of other restaurants in the area, this one doesn't have a large quantity of items, but it features a variety of burgers, sandwiches, salads, seafood, beef and chicken; basically what you'd expect to find in a tavern. What you notice right away when you start looking at the menu are the creative names for some of their dishes. We chuckled as we read through some of them like Chicken Toes, The Fried Chick and Crabby Patties. They definitely grab your attention.

Appetizers: 15/20

Our Gourmet: Not one to shy away from food with a funny name, I ordered the Rooster Balls ($8), fried spheres of shredded chicken, cream cheese, blue cheese and vegetables and Buffalo sauce, and drizzled with cilantro ranch dressing. The appetizer was all the best parts of a Buffalo chicken appetizer minus the need to use a bunch of napkins. They had a noticeable kick, which I enjoyed. The chicken was a bit stringy but overall the Rooster Balls were a great way to kick off a meal. For smaller appetites, this could be meal in and of itself. 8/10

TDC: I decided on the Clam Fry (market price). The clams were served in a cup-like dish with a side of Peppadew tartar sauce. Peppadew is a sweet pepper that added a flavorful yet mild zing to the tartar sauce. The clams were lightly fried (resulting in a softer breading), big in the belly and, while they were a little chewier than I like, they were a satisfying starter overall. 7/10

Entrees: 18/20

OG: Sticking with the theme started with my appetizer, I chose The Drunk Chick ($14), a beer-brined half chicken, served with smashed potatoes and mixed vegetables. At first glance I was impressed and overwhelmed by the amount of food on the plate. The stars of this dish were the potatoes and vegetables, which I kept eating even after I should have stopped. The potatoes were creamy and the mix of sautéed peppers, onions and squash were perfectly cooked and seasoned well. The chicken was moist as I expected it to be, but the skin of the chicken had an overly sweet note, which surprised me given the menu description. I was left longing for a savory, crispy skin. 7/10

TDC: I gave The Big Baked Pig ($13) a try. The dish is served in layers in a huge oblong bowl and comes with a choice of two sides. The layers are comprised of scallions, cheddar, mashed potatoes and barbecued pulled pork on the bottom. The pulled pork was tender with the barbecue sauce soaked into the meat giving it a perfectly subtle flavor. What's better is that it was practically just as good the second and third time I reheated it. Did I mention that this was a big serving? 9/10

Desserts: 15/20

OG: Because the kitchen closed while we were dining, our choices for dessert were limited. I opted for the Almost Better than Sex cake ($6), a huge slab of brownie-like cake partnered with butterscotch topping, Cool Whip, Heath bar and sweetened condensed milk. I liked the somewhat wacky combination of ingredients but because of the large meal and the sweetness of the dessert, I had to stop eating halfway through. 7/10

TDC: I picked the Jumbo Whoopie Pie ($8.50), and when they say jumbo, they're not kidding. The pie barely fit onto the full-size plate that it came out on. It was served with a steak knife, and you need it; this thing was impenetrable by fork. The dessert tasted like your standard whoopie pie with creamy frosting sandwiched between two gargantuan pieces of chocolate cake. This is the type of dessert that begs for a prize if you can eat the whole thing. 8/10

Final thoughts: 24/30

The bar and seating area at The Tuckaway is larger than it would appear just by looking at the building. There's plenty of space to stretch out at your table, a luxury you don't have at all restaurants. The interior is so new you can still smell the new wood and the restaurant is incredibly clean.

While overall we had a pleasant experience, we were left wondering if we had a new server. She was noticeably nervous and barely gave us any time with the menus. When we went to order dessert we found out the kitchen had closed at 9, which explained the rush. We wish she had told us the kitchen was closing so we could have had a shot at ordering our choice of dessert – come to think of it her oversight probably stopped us from fighting over a dish.

Next time we are out in that neck of the woods we may just have to stop in to share the S'more Sundae.

Total: 80/100

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