On the day of the marketmanila “eyeball” in Vancouver, we got up early, passed by the train station to check on our passage to Seattle, and headed straight to the rather interesting district called Kitsilano. Apparently, nothing stirs there until about noon, so we walked around and window shopped, waiting for one of two well-regarded restaurants o open… Mae Nam, a thai place, or Refuel, just next door. Refuel opened half an hour earlier, and we were starving, so we decided to eat there. Prior to lunch, we hit a lulu lemon shop (had just learned it was a local brand gone global) and picked up a couple of their incredibly comfortable shorts, more for lounging than working out, as the latter is done less and less these days… :)
We were the first guests into Refuel as they opened for the day, and we opted to sit at the bar, which had a good view into part of the kitchen, where we could watch our lunch being cooked. Apparently a reincarnation of an earlier restaurant, FUEL, it had an interesting menu posted outdoors and we decided to try several of their dishes. First up, the Manila clams with fennel sausage and chili. Prepared before our eyes, the incredibly sweet and fresh local clams were doused in a heady broth flavored with sausage (pork and shellfish are a wonderful match) and just a hint of chili. I could have used a bit more chili, but I suspect the average diner would have found this just right… Served with a slice of bread brushed with olive oil and flavored with a scrape of garlic, this was just want I was looking for.
An open kitchen, a small to medium sized dining room that sat perhaps 40 or so, and nondescript interiors…
Mrs. MM ordered non-alcoholic ginger beer that was extremely refreshing.
The amiable chef that day was quite chatty, and we got to watch him prepare all of our dishes, without any assistance from the rest of the crew, who were just arriving… It’s fun to watch a chef in action, and how they engineer practical uses for all kinds of equipment… pans to cover stock pots, fingers instead of tongs, etc. The amount of stuff or components of a dish that were already made in advance and simply waiting to be used in plating was a revelation… the pickles for one dish, the chopped garnishes, etc. The food all came out hot and fresh looking, yet it had several components that required a lot more time than we were there. It looked quite effortless, with delicious results.
Mrs. Marketman ordered this crispy pork cheek terrine that was rich and delicious. A nice twist was the quick fry to crisp up the sides of the slice of terrine. It came with a selection of lightly pickled vegetables.
A second look at my manila clams, with a lot of the shells cleared out. I had that, the broth and the remaining bread, completely cleaning out the bowl… :)
I ordered a salad for my main course, with hanger steak, arugula and radicchio, blue cheese and garnished with deep fried capers, a really nice piquant touch I have never come across before. Perfectly dressed, tossed lightly by hand, this was a light but substantial dish, and would tide me over until the likely massive dinner with readers a few hours later!
Mrs. Marketman ordered a special salmon burger, made with roughly chopped fresh salmon and sandwiched between bread with tomatoes onions and mayonnaise. Some fries accompanied the dish. We were too full to order dessert, but overall a nice meal at Refuel.