I have been dying to check out Fuel since well before they opened ~ it just looked so cool inside! Then I heard the news around work that it was the work of Tom Doughty and Rob Belcham (C, Nu). I don't usually talk restaurants, chefs and gossip here, because I figure it will bore most people, especially the Non-Vancouverites. Lets just say these are some culinary heavyweights.
The restaurant opened, the menu could be perused online and my coworkers were raving. My wallet not so much (this place is really out of my league!). But wait; there is a lunch menu. So today, I took Rob to Fuel for lunch as Phase II of birthday action.
We walked in and were greeted warmly, seated quickly in a terribly uncomfortable not cosy environment. Oh, the chairs were comfortable enough, but they were packed in there so tight, the only really intimate feeling about the whole place was how intimate you could get with your neighbours! No pictures because of this AND the table to my right was irritating me with their snobiness and general expectancy of premium treatment while still being rude to the waitstaff.
We were served efficiently, but I noticed another couple that didn't get their bread until we were on our main course and they were there before us.
I ordered a lemon-thyme soda and a braised lamb sandwich. Rob ordered crispy pork belly. We were served cute little miniature epi on slabs of polished (granite?) with whipped butter and Maldon salt. Delicious.
My soda was also impeccable and I was tempted to order a second. For the 3.50$ price tag, it was worth every cent.
The food arrived. My lamb sandwich was huge, the pile of red onions rings still managed to dwarf it. The sandwich itself was tasty and extremely filling, but the seasoning was lacking (read salt). I could not stop eating the onion rings though! Lightly battered, almost tempura like, well salted, crispy but soft and sweet...yum**.
Rob, well I could tell he was annoyed as soon as he tried to cut a piece of the pork belly. It was served in a bowl with a dashi, shiitake mushrooms and julienned red radish. The dashi broth, while adding a wonderful flavour element to the dish, completely negated the crispiness of the pork belly. The presentation bowl was shaped in such a way that it was extremely difficult to cut the pork neatly as well. The flavour was good, the dish was rich and meaty, but the presentation left a little to be desired.
Am I glad I went there? Absolutely! Would I go there again? In a word ~no.
**technical culinary term
Wait! Can I change my mind?? I have been sitting here thinking about it... I think next time I will go by myself and sit at the dining bar in front of the kitchen...