Refuel Restaurant & Bar is located on 4th Ave and Cypress, in Kitsilano. Refuel serves casual Northwest cuisine and encourages diners to relax, have fun and enjoy simple, honest food. We had been trying to dine here for ages, and finally got around to it the other day.
Refuel’s kitchen is at the front of the restaurant, so you can see right into it through the large windows on the sidewalk. This makes for a strange dining experience, as the dining tables are right at the back of the narrow restaurant and there are no windows back there. It felt a tad stifling. The other thing is it seems the kitchen’s storage area and/or industrial fridge/freezers are also at the very back of the restaurant. So every few minutes cooks would walk by us with plastic tubs full of raw food. Not the most professional thing to do in a restaurant – which would make me think the layout isn’t very functional.
My first course began nicely with their Leek Risotto – it tasted really good, creamy, and the rice was cooked perfectly.
Gary had their famous Buttermilk Fried Chicken with Waffles – unfortunately the waffles were cold and the chicken had a peculiar taste (they claim it’s a particular chicken that gives it a unique flavor). The coleslaw almost tasted like it had gone bad. Brown gravy was served although white gravy would have been equally as traditional.
My second course was their Tuna Melt with fries – the fries were excellent, very hot and well seasoned. The tuna melt…to start with, it was raw tuna with pieces of bone mixed in, then on top of the cold tuna was a melted piece of cheese. The bread was extremely hard and difficult to eat. As you can imagine, this dish did not work for me.
For desert, we ordered their Chocolate Pot de Creme – with pieces of black cherry. This dessert tasted alright. Not sure if the cream had been previously whipped but then had fallen, or if it was deliberately runny.
Sadly, our overall experience was disappointing – especially since we had heard rave reviews about their fried chicken. It seemed like they were overly experimental in their delivery. Maybe we just chose the wrong day to dine at Refuel, or ordered the wrong things. Perhaps their dinner menu is better.