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The Tuck Box, Carmel-by-the-Sea, California USA

A Great British Tea Room in Carmel Village

Peter and Linda D'Aprix

For the last 70+ years, the Tuck Box has existed as a restaurant in the middle of Carmel-by-the-Sea on Dolores between Ocean and 7th. (Address is as close as you can get in street number resistant Carmel.) It has not always been devoted to British food as it is today, but since the 1940's when two sisters from England opened the tea room which they named "The Tuck Box" after the small wooden lockers English school boys took to boarding school with them to hold their toys, books and food (tuck). The "tuck box" has always had a warm and special place in British student hearts since the food served in their dining rooms was so execrable that the candy and cakes hoarded in their boxes were the only things to satisfy young tastes. This name sake more than lives up to these expectations. I know, I went to English boarding schools in the 1950's and cherished the goodies in my tuck box!


Illustration of this story book, fairy tale tea room and English restaurant.

Front Door


Oat, wheat, barley & rye hot cereal served with pat of butter, raisins, raw brown sugar, Scottish Scone toasted and rich coffee.


© 2000 photos Peter D'Aprix

All of us who have been eating at the Tuck Box owe a debt to Zigmont J. Le Towt and his wife Dianne who saved the Tuck Box from disappearing in 1996 when the previous owners just had to withdraw from the business. They are keeping this living piece of Carmel history and tradition alive and flourishing.

The Carmel incarnation is a whimsical environment more out of a book of fairy tales than the real English countryside. But never mind. It is quaint and has charm. Certainly a better place to eat hot scones dripping with butter and heaped with the Tuck Box Olallieberry Jam, hot cereal, good Ceylon Supreme Pekoe Black Tea, eggs and bacon or Canadian Bacon not to mention the stewed prunes. Breakfast digested, you can then look forward to Welsh Rarebit, Shepherd's Pie, Beefsteak Pie, Meatloaf with mashed potatoes (not a typical English dish but fulfilling in the same "nursery food" way). Or on Saturdays the English Pot Roast steeped in herbs and red wine with mashed potatoes. I love mashed potatoes and would dearly love to have had them in England. In school though, it was usually mushy, gray, reboiled potatoes. An image that came before my eyes when I studied the potato famine in Ireland although the Irish at the time would probably have given their eye teeth for the equally gray, reboiled cabbage that was served with them.

Desserts are listed as "desserts of the day & homemade pies served with real whipped cream". Don't eat here if nonfat is high on your dietary priorities. The pies see service later in the day for Afternoon Tea along with the Scottish scones, cheese and fruit plate.

The Tuck Box does not serve dinner but after what you have just consumed from the time you arrived in the morning, who needs dinner! Besides, English school boys were not served dinner, just late afternoon tea.

Interior Tuck Box

Open beam ceiling of the quaint dining room.

Tuck Box Tea room

Outside sign.

They do serve local Monterey County wines by the bottle or glass as well as Carmel Brewing Co. and English bottled beers.

A note on their Scottish Scones. These are not the small scones one may be used to. These are large, about the size of a salad plate. The Tuck Box recipe is from northern Scotland and is lighter in texture than the scones found in England. Scones trace their ancestry back to the 1700's in England. Their quick preparation in contrast to yeast rising breads and the large number of recipe variations make them eternally interesting. Some, as the Tuck Box scones, are served with butter and preserves. But they can be served with everything from fruit to herbs and cheese. An Italian might make one as a pizza.

For afficiadoes, who cannot get to Carmel very often, the Tuck Box sells their preserves including their famous Olallieberry version, their scone mix that dates back to 1949, their whole grain cereal (oats, wheat, barley & rye) and their Ceylon Pekoe Black Tea. Just call or fax the numbers below or log onto their web site.

The Tuck Box
Dolores Between Ocean & 7th.
Carmel-by-the-Sea, California 93921
tel: 1-831-624-6365
fax: 1-831-626-3939
Web Site URL: http://www.tuckbox.com

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All rights reserved peter d'aprix ©1985-2012.
No copying, reuse or partial reproduction permitted without written permission by the authors, Peter and Linda D'Aprix.

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