Charleston -- Fuel
My wife and I visited a couple of weeks ago, and we weren't too "cool" with the open door arrangement. You, too, can eat inside with all the disadvantages of being outside! Maybe they are targeting tourists from up north who find our summer heat novel over the course of a week's visit. We have to deal with it on a daily basis and would prefer the option of AC, thank you very much! Anyway, judging by the ductwork, I think they have AC, and they just aren't using it. Needless to say it was quite toasty.
The food was pretty good. I had the fish tacos and the wife had the shrimp curry. We'd probably go back but not until they close the doors or the weather gets cooler.
So I wrote a review of Fuel for the first issue of the semester of the College of Charleston's student newspaper a couple weeks ago and vaguely remembered this post. Since nobody ever chimed in with a review, I figured I'd paste mine over here for those who are curious:
"Students moving back into Cannonborough or Radcliffeborough, the areas just north of campus, after a summer away from Charleston may have noticed they have a new neighbor occupying the corner of Cannon and Rutledge. Opening about a month after exams, Fuel is a self described "Caribbean cantina" making its home in a renovated former gas station. The restaurant's young owners Trevor Whitmire and Justin Broome did many of the renovations themselves, and the result is a building with some serious curb appeal.
On a nice day around lunch, you’re likely to find Fuel’s roll up doors (which replaced the boarded-up doors to the garage bays of the old gas station) open to the top, creating a unique effect that draws you to come in. If you do, you’ll discover a small dining room decorated with gas paraphernalia, like their lights made from converted gas nozzles, and a moderately sized bar. The real place to be, however, is out back. The area behind the restaurant features a bocce court and a covered patio, complete with some industrial strength fans to keep it cool.
The moderately priced menu presents many familiar dishes, each given a bit of tropical flare, as well as some Caribbean specialties which you may not yet have experienced. I recommend starting off with a cup of their chilled gazpacho ($2), a chunky soup of tomato, cucumber, onion, garlic, and fresh cilantro that is tremendously refreshing in the middle of a hot Charleston day. I also enjoyed the Anguillian kebabs ($7), tender pieces of spicy beef served with a creamy mojo-aioli dipping sauce that did a good job of balancing the dish’s heat.
Lunchtime diners will want to focus on the “Tacos, Burgers, & Sandwiches” portion of the menu, which includes unique choices like the chorizo burger ($12) and grilled mahi mahi tacos ($10). My favorite item from this section was the grilled tuna tacos ($12), where seared rare ahi tuna is accompanied by a roasted chile aioli and sweet corn relish. The sauce nicely accents the flavor of the fish without overpowering it. That is more than I can say for the barbecue duck confit tacos with chipotle corn salsa and roasted arugula ($11), which weren’t bad, but didn’t live up to my expectations because the barbecue sauce swallowed up all of the other flavors, leaving what tasted like an expensive version of pulled pork. Each of the dishes in this section is served with a side. Side options range from sweet potato fries and boiled peanuts, to the more traditionally Caribbean sweet plantain fritters, which had a texture and flavor somewhat reminiscent of the filling of apple pie mixed with bananas foster (which may sound good in theory, but I found too sweet to be served with lunch).
As for entrées, the grilled pork calypso ($15) featured savory pieces of pork tenderloin in a wonderful sweet sauce of rum, ginger, and lime. On my next visit, I’m looking forward to trying the tropical seafood bouyon ($15), a spicy stew with shrimp and mahi mahi. For dessert, go with the bread pudding with rum and pineapple sauce ($4); its smooth texture and rich, island flavor will let you know you’ve made the right decision.
Fuel’s bar offers a pretty decent selection of beers, including seven on tap, and a few good happy hour specials, like half price drafts on Tuesdays and pitchers of “Fuel beer” (which my server told me compares to Busch Light) for the price of a gallon of gas.
Service was good enough, friendly but perhaps a bit slow. Overall, however, Fuel dishes out solid food at reasonable prices in a unique setting and is definitely worth checking out. Their bar is going to make for a cool place to hang out on those warm fall nights and their patio is a great setting for a casual date. The place is still young so they likely will have a few more kinks to work out, but I see no reason why they shouldn’t continue to gain popularity and improve with age."
Hope that helps!
http://www.DavidGHeiser.com - One Charleston College Student's Guide to Food and Film