*Fuel is now Refuel*
Quick... When you think of fried chicken in Vancouver, what comes to mind? KFC? Church's? Popeye's? Lee's? LA Chicken? Depending on your preference, you most certainly can get decent fried chicken at these places (well, maybe not KFC). Now I bet not many people would associate Fuel with fried chicken. After all, there is no drive-thru! However, you can get some pretty good fried chicken at Fuel from 12:00pm - 2:00pm every Friday until the end of summer. Mind you, at $19.50 (including beer), it'd better be good! Of course, the fried chicken at Fuel is not something you'd find at the aforementioned restaurants. The organic chicken are sous-vide in buttermilk before they are dusted with seasoned flour and deep-fried (you can watch the video of this here).
I have to give credit to Vandelay for our visit to Fuel. He has definitely been a great resource when it comes restaurants. Rich Guy and Donna Chang joined us for this meal as well. Vandelay and I both ordered the fried chicken, Donna ordered the Pork Schnitzel Sandwich and I bribed Rich Guy into ordering the Confit Albacore Tuna Melt. I promised him a drumstick for his troubles. I really didn't want 3 orders of the fried chicken, I'd have nothing to talk about! Before we got our entrees, we started off with complimentary bread with butter and sea salt. I usually don't talk about complimentary bread; however, the butter was so creamy and tasty. I just had to mention that.
The fried chicken consisted of 3 pieces, one side, a buttermilk biscuit and gravy. The side and biscuit change every week. This week, it was a red onion biscuit and a kale/black-eyed peas mix. The chicken was pretty good. It was very tender and juicy due to the sous-vide process. This involves placing the meat in vacuum sealed bags which are dipped into a temperature-controlled water bath. The chicken at Fuel is cooked for 2 hours in the water bath before they are fried.
One bite into the chicken and I immediately knew this was no ordinary fried chicken. It was so tender and juicy. It was as if the chicken was roasted, rather than being fried. I personally thought that the chicken was delicately flavoured, despite the fact some have considered it salty (have you not tried KFC, that's salty!). One complaint is that the chicken could have been a little more crispy. The biscuit was soft and fluffy with just a hint of red onion. Vandelay and I both dipped it into the gravy and it was very tasty. I didn't like the kale and black-eyed peas very much. It was cooked with shallots and the flavour was light; but I didn't enjoy the texture of the peas. They were done al dente and personally I prefer them a bit softer. However, I'm sure someone else will have a different opinion about them.
The schnitzel sandwich was good, but nothing special. The pork was well-seasoned and it was fried-up perfectly. However, it tasted like any other schnitzel that I've had. The tuna melt was a bit disappointing. The fish was good, but it was overcooked. I'm not sure if it was meant to be this way; but overcooked tuna has the texture of chicken breast meat. If the tuna was undercooked a bit, the melt would've been better. However, the homemade chips that came with the melt were quite good.
We decided to share 2 desserts and that ended up to be quite the gong show. We ordered the Tahitian Vanilla Doughnuts with pumpkin ice cream and house made root beer. Also, we got the Kentucky Bourbon Creme Brulee with spearmint ice cream and cocoa nib biscuit. If you can imagine, sharing the donuts was no problem; but the root beer and the brulee were another matter. Let's just say it was a bit messy in the end. We really liked the donuts, they were crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. There's nothing better than warm donuts! The pumpkin ice cream was dropped into the root beer so it became a float. We thought the root beer was very good, it had lots of root beer taste without too much sugar. The carbonated jelly on the bottom was a treat! The brulee was pretty ordinary; yet the top was caramelized perfectly. We like crunchy, caramelized sugar!
Of course, by virtue of having only one lunch at Fuel does not provide a true representation of the restaurant. However, I did enjoy my visit. I liked the open-kitchen, the decor and the ambiance. Moreover, the service was solid. Our server was knowledgeable, attentive and pleasant. Everything came expeditiously and I noticed the little details such as all of our meals arriving at the same time (with help from other staff of course). Although I wasn't fond of all the food, the combination of service and ambiance made it a good experience.
- Impeccable service
- Modern decor and ambiance
- Good fried chicken (only limited time though)
- Some of the other dishes were average
- Parking could be an issue
1944 West 4th Avenue
12:00pm - 2:30pm, 5:30pm - close (Mon - Fri)
5:30pm - close (Sat & Sun)