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Refuel Neighbourhood Restaurant and Bar – Vancouver, Kitsilano

February 10th, 2010 · No Comments

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Piggy puffs – that was the first thing that caught my eye on the menu at Refuel and so I made my mind up to go there. We have been fans of Chef Belcham from the beginning. We loved Fuel when it first opened but our recent experiences had been more disappointing. With the revamp of Fuel into Refuel – a more laid-back comfort food concept with good food at a reasonable price – we are again fans. In fact, I went there two days in a row – at brunch and at dinner. Both times, I was impressed – particularly with the quantity and quality of food with respect to the price.

For starters, we had the ox tongue salad, bone marrow (a huge split roasted bone with toast and a delicious green apple salad), pork cheek terrine (a large slab of terrine on toast and covered with a fried egg and the fried humboldt squid with coriander, green onion and jalapeno (the favourite of the bunch). The house-made charctuterie is also supposed to be excellent although we will have to save that for next time. The piggy puffs – a name which intrigued me – were perfectly fried and crispy pork rinds accompanied with a chili vinegar. The mains included the buttermilk fried chicken ( 3 pieces of chicken, coleslaw, biscuit), the sloping hill farms pork (we had the leg but apparently the cut of meat changes), and the ling cod with swiss chard. Another dish which also looked appetizing was the hangar steak salad. We sat at the counter for dinner (these seats are first come first serve) so we could watch the dinner preparation.

Interestingly, all the meat and vegetables are cooked sous vide. ” Sous vide” which is french for “under vacuum” was a cooking technique developed in France in the 1970s for foie gras. It has become increasingly popular with North American chefs. The is vacuum packed in plastic and left immersed in a hot water bath kept at 55-60F degrees. This type of cooking allows the food to cook in its own juices and leads to tender meat due to slow-cooking at low temperature for hours. In fact, the food apparently can be kept in the water bath for hours without overcooking due to the low-temperature. Whenever a dish was ordered, one of the blue-apronned staff would pull out a bag, snip it open and finish off the meat or vegetable – usually by either grilling or deep-frying it. The meat does not look appetizing as it comes out of the bag but there is a magical transformation that occurs with the grilling or deep-frying before it is plated. The meat comes out tender and tasty.

Although we were full after the large starters and mains, we couldn’t resist sharing a dessert both times. At brunch, the peanut and chocolate parfait with honeycomb was small yet rich and hit the spot – not sure whether the little crispy bits were partly honeycomb but who cares, it was delicious. After dinner, we still wanted something sweet to finish off the dinner but all of the desserts on the menu seemed a bit too rich. The kitchen was happy to accommodate with their homemade coconut lime sorbet which was delicious – a great combination of sweet and tangy – and surprise, surprise we finished that off pretty quickly too.

The service is friendly and attentive without being intrusive. One of the waitstaff even recognized me from the day before. The decor is slightly warmer and more casual than its predecessor Fuel and the overall ambiance is relaxed and comfortable. This is definitely one of our new favourite places in Vancouver.

Refuel on Urbanspoon

1944 West 4th Avenue
Vancouver, BC V6J 1M5, Canada
(604) 288-7905
Cost: good value given the portion size and the quality of food
Verdict: one of our new favourites, portion size is generous for the starters and mains

Tags: Favorites · Inexpensive · Vancouver

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