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Fuel: time to recalibrate (Vancouver)

Fuel, according to the twittersphere, is closing on Nov 29 to reopen as a more casual and affordable restaurant. Maybe they are seeing how well the Gastropod to Maenam experiment has worked out? Anyway, I'm actually looking forward to this recalibration. Good luck to them - I'm sure it'll be good.

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Fuel Restaurant
1944 West 4th Ave, Vancouver, BC V6J 1M5, CA

Maenam
1938 W. 4th Ave, Vancouver, BC V6J 1M5, CA

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  1. According the press release, they'll be reopening on December 2nd. Quality ingredients and great service are to be maintained at this "neighborhood restaurant and bar specializing in Casual Northwest Cuisine."

    Though I'm really sad to see Fuel go, I think the new concept, based on what little is said in the release, is a place I'd be much likelier to eat at. Best of luck to the crew there.

    17 Replies
    1. re: peter.v

      For sure peter.v. Casual is what this city does best - though I had always considered Fuel to be casual already. If they can deliver Belchamesque food at Cactus Club prices, I'm sure they will get legions of new fans.

      1. re: fmed

        Too bad they had to do this before the Olympics as it will screw up the printed guides big time but in the long run this can only be considered a good move.

        I for one will be happy to patronize a scaled down version of whatever they choose to call the new venture.
        I can only pray that it would be an all pork, really well done ethnic menu of their choosing -along the lines of the Maenam model but maybe Mexican.... I know, too narrow of a focus but a guy can dream can't he?

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        Maenam
        1938 W. 4th Ave, Vancouver, BC V6J 1M5, CA

        1. re: eatrustic

          Yes...maybe a name change is not wise right before the Olympics. Maybe they can call it "Re-Fuel".

          1. re: fmed

            I can't believe you called that one fmed. You have any insider knowledge there? Ha!

            Here's this evening's press release: http://scoutmagazine.ca/2009/11/24/th...

            It's called Refuel. Mains average around the $20 price point. Considering the team behind this place, it will be incredible value. Fried chicken made the mains menu. Foie gras remains on the menu too, which warms my heart, since the anti-foie gras lobby claimed victory upon Fuel's closing announcement.

              1. re: peter.v

                ... and there's roasted bone marrow on the menu!

                I can't wait!!

                1. re: twinkienic

                  Their burger looks intriguing...I wonder if you can order it medium rare.

                  1. re: fmed

                    The Share Plates look great! $55 - probably serves two (to four?) people. The Whole Duck Confit (Polderside) with braised apple and roast cabbage sounds fantastic.

                    1. re: fmed

                      Again, you're onto them. Their twitter posting from a staff tasting tonight mentioned their burger was cooked medium rare. Direct quote, "Dry Aged Beef Burger cooked medium rare on a Scottish Bap with cheddar and house cured bacon. Sweet baby, where have you been?"

                      Awesome.

                      1. re: peter.v

                        There were so many people "in uniform" when I went by last night, I should have twigged it was a staff tasting. The burger sounds great except for the bap -- I'm not fond of the flour dusted on the outside of most baps.

                          1. re: grayelf

                            Grayelf, have you visited John Campbell's Irish Bakery in the outer Richmond on any of your visits to SF. Friends turned us on to the baps there, fantastic! We brought several home and froze them, which may be why I don't recall any or very little flour on the outside. Here's a thread from a couple of years back.

                            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/432774

                            John Campbell's Irish Bakery
                            5625 Geary Blvd @ 20th

                      2. re: twinkienic

                        My thoughts exactly, roasted bone marrow...yum yum yum!

                        And I just booked my flights back for Christmas so hopefully they'll be open over the holiday season. Can not wait to wander over there and check it out.

                        1. re: bdachow

                          Chowdown at refuel over Xmas, bdachow??

                          1. re: grayelf

                            Lol, you read my mind. I've actually already got the sister making reservations there. Hahahahahaha....

                      3. re: peter.v

                        The new menu looks awesome. Really looking forward to eating my way though.

                        1. re: Cancuk

                          Mmmm pork rinds....I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw Scrapple! I will have to make a trip specifically for that. When I saw that on Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives I thought it looked very interesting...now I will know!

              2. I will miss you, Fuel. Hitting up Friend Chicken this friday and the whole hog dinner later in the month.

                1. Although it won't be for everybody, the burger at ReFuel is the best i've had in Vancouver. It's not traditional, especially the patty (ground sirloin served med-rare), but it's also not ridiculous like DB Bistro's. Patty, bacon (house made, i would assume) and cheese. Nothing more. With that said, it's absurdly rich and literally melts in your mouth. This could be a detractor for some, but for me it was heaven.

                  Very, very good.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: Cancuk

                    Just a couple of things on the burger....it can be cooked any way you want not just med rare, (finally).
                    And for the moment the meat is hand chopped while they await a part for the grinder which makes for a slightly different (but equally good) texture. They were selling a bunch of them when I was in.

                    1. re: eatrustic

                      The burger will be the first thing I order. (Perhaps this week!)

                      1. re: fmed

                        Chowhound has been super flaky on my home computer so haven't been posting much lately but on the way home from work Thursday, I had the bright idea to call the SO and arrange to meet at refuel for a taste of the new menu. We had a mix of the snacks and shared a main and a dessert as follows:

                        spiced pork ribs and bits (naughty bits -- apparently they chuck whatever is left from making the charcuterie in the deep fryer -- I want to be buried with those bits)

                        refuel potatoes (think whipped with strands of cheese curd that slowly coalesce back to curdiness as they cool)

                        Swiss chard (very simple but tasty with a hint of smokiness -- SO thought it was a mite bitter but I disagreed so that is a matter of taste)

                        roasted yellow beets with goat cheese drizzled on top -- simple and delicious

                        bread and butter which somebody ate all three pieces of... and it wasn't me.

                        the gnocchi which was our favourite dish of the night, and the best gnocchi I've tasted -- super light and pillowy but still rib-sticking

                        apple/pear crostada with sour cream ice cream -- I usually avoid ordering anything with a pastry crust for dessert as I am often disappointed but not tonight -- pear flavour could have been stronger

                        We really enjoyed everything and couldn't find anything to complain about. There were a ton of servers which seemed a bit odd but was not a problem, quite the opposite. The new room is quite inviting, with I understand even more "warming" elements to come, though the light is still too low for decent photos. Tab for the above which left us very satisfied was $75 before tip and including an R&B Pale Ale and a Pear and Vanilla Ricky (excellent suggestion from our main server Emma).

                        I'm looking forward to trying the f--- g--- poutine which is not on the menu and of course the burger which I would have had tonight but I had indulged in Salade de Fruits poutine for lunch and thought I'd better cool it on the fries. Cheese curds twice in one day is my idea of heaven... but I digress. We'll be back to refuel our tanks v. soon.

                        1. re: grayelf

                          Droooooool....
                          I can't wait to go.

                          Now I'm hungry... why don't I have snacks in my house?!

                          1. re: grayelf

                            Ohhhhhhh...swoon, sounds absolutely divine, I can not wait until I'm back to try it.

                    2. Made it out to ReFuel on Friday night. Having never been to Fuel, I didn't have any real major expectations to live up to, aside from all the reviews.

                      We started with the Croquettes and the Creamy Onion soup. The Croquettes seemed a bit soft at first, not as crispy as I would have thought; though the moment you bit in, you realize why. Creamy, salty foie gras. Ensure you eat these in a single shot, they are not meant to be bit. Unless you want to spray liquid Foie all over your dining partner.
                      The soup was also quite good. Great balance of creaminess and onioniness with wonderful garlicky croutons.

                      For the main, we had the friend chicken and the pork. Having heard lots about the friend chicken, I had high expectations. While it was still quite good, I did find some of it fairly dry. In addition, I also found it to be fairly greasy. I would prefer a larger portion of gravy along with it also. The jalapeno biscuit on the other hand was very good.
                      The pork though, I found to be wonderful. A good serving of porky fatness, set overtop creamed potatos and slow cooked fennel. There was enough contract in texture between the pork/potato and the fennel, so it was not too creamy/mushy.

                      Generally, we do not order much for dessert, usually just something light like the creme brulee. Though all night I kept seeing the amazing look peanut and chocolate parfait go by. Ended up ordering both. The creme brulle was good. Nothing wild or amazing, but would easily order again as a nice light dessert. (Plus the candied lemon and lime peel is great!)
                      The peanut and chocolate parfait...First few bites were amazing. Basically a DQ Peanutbutter parfait, just so, so much better. Nice light peanutbuttery icecream, sweet chocolate and honeycomb. But, about half way though, I was done. Just way, way to sweet. Sure, I managed to power through most of it, I would have much prefered to share this with someone.

                      3 courses each, 2 drinks each, and tip $135.00. Well worth the money!

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: CdnLifeguard

                        Whoa...liquid foie. Thanks for the report CdnLifeguard.

                        1. re: fmed

                          The foie gras croquettes sound exactly like the foie gras cromesquis I had at Au Pied de Cochon earlier this year. If so, I can't wait to have them again at Refuel! Deep fried foie - what's not to like?

                          1. re: intemperategourmande

                            Yes, it does sound like it. I have a friend who keeps telling me about the melting cube of foie from Au Pied and if it doesn't melt properly, they send it back. Molten foie...hmmm...hopefully it's not too much like cubes of melted butter, that would definitely set me back again after I reacquired a taste for foie.