I actually cooked for the second time in as many days. For lunch, I made a broiled tequila-lime marinated arctic char with minced garlic and basil. While last night’s creation was fine, today’s was actually very good. Surprisingly so in as much as I was the one who made it.
After a grueling afternoon of watching playoff football, it was off to Fuel, that new restaurant on West 4th. Unable to access their menu online, I had no idea what to expect. We arrived for our 6:00 p.m. seating and were greeted by a very friendly, very upbeat host who welcomed us, then showed us to our table where we were presented with the menu. Like their neighbor Gastropod, Fuel’s menu is small – about 6 appetizers, 6 mains, and some 5 desserts. You also have the choice of ordering one of the chef menus ranging from 4 to 9 courses. I opted to go for the more modest 6 course chef menu.
First up was a velvety smooth pumpkin soup with caramelized sunflower seeds accompanied by a perfectly cooked whole scallop. It was a truly awesome soup and the gorgeous glass bowl in which it was served (a product of Spain that takes ten weeks to ship) proved equally as popular with my fellow diners. My next dish was a romaine salad with chanterelle mushrooms and a poached egg with a red wine vinaigrette. Perhaps feeling sorry for Fondy and our friend who were looking forward to three courses to my four, the kitchen was nice enough to serve them a dish of tiny gnocchi in a cream sauce with salmon eggs which, I have to admit to enjoying even more than my salad. Next up was a melt-in-your-mouth foie gras and duck confit terrine accompanied by some caramelized shallots and sweet brioche. Fondy and her friend were treated to another little extra from the kitchen, a much appreciated and very much enjoyed prawn with leek and crispy lardon served with a citrus vinaigrette. I was served a very good lemon risotto with crispy capers and smoked albacore tuna, the smoky tuna and tangy risotto complimenting each other very nicely. Finally, it was time for the main courses: Alberta rib streak with rapini and sauteed gnocchi in a Bordelaise sauce that was nothing short of magnificent, and an outstanding pork loin with romaine roulettes (stuffed with delicious diced potates and foie gras). Prior to ordering, I advised our waitress that while I had no food allergies or aversions, I strongly objected to any fruit with my dessert. As a result, my dessert was the chocolate-caramel brownie with vanilla ice cream, a milk chocolate-stuffed circular wafer and cocoa nibs. I found the brownie a little dry but tasty nonetheless. The ice cream was great and the stuffed wafer the highlight of the dish. Our friend had the three tier apple cake (apple cake at the bottom, hazelnut chocolate in the middle, and a creme anglaise brulee on top) served with a shot of apple soda – a fun, creative, and very good dish. My wife went with the pear beignet with sabayon and grapefruit sorbet which, I have to grudingly admit – despite the fact that it was chock full o’ fruit – was the tastiest dessert of the night. An assortment of sweets accompanied our bill including a very good vanilla macaron, and some accomplished chocolates (dark with tangerine, and another dark with anise and coffee).
Service was excellent – courteous, professional, yet friendly and helpful (given the number of times we asked about the minutest details of each dish). The decor is nice and clean, very airy.
I was amazed to learn that Fuel has only been open five days now. They have hit the ground running, demonstrating the inventiveness and polish of a veteran. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this restaurant to anyone and I plan a return visit sometime later in the week.
To top off the evening, we returned home to discover the pugs had broken into a bag of Hershey’s milk chocolate kisses. We spent the rest of the night cleaning up dog vomit.