Thursday, March 29, 2012

Goodbye Refuel

All good things come to an end so they say. It is the same with Refuel which has long been one of my favorite restaurants in Vancouver. I wrote about it earlier here, which will give you a bit more background.

Last Saturday, Refuel closed its doors for the last time. This was a sad occasion for me, having enjoyed so many great meals at this place. It has extra special meaning because it was the favorite hangout of Kai and I whenever Connie was out for an evening. Kai literally grew up eating Fuel and Refuel food and as he got older, he really started appreciating what they were cooking. He would devour their risotto and loved their hamburger but most of all, adored their pork belly rack. It was with some pride that I witnessed him eating one of those by himself recently during one of our visits. The other thing I appreciate so much about this team is how down to earth they are. Visting Refuel or the Campagnolos is always like visiting friends with the people in the kitchen and front of the house always happy to see you. Sharing their passion for food is what they love to do and again I very much appreciate seeing this with Kai who I think learnt a lot from interacting with them. So yeah, I am sad this chapter is closing but the Refuel crew certainly isn't out for the count, their other restaurants, Campagnolo and Campagnolo Roma are doing well and they are getting close to opening The Fat Dragon. Needless to say we will be there on opening day.

Refuel's final event was one of their late-night PIG dinners which was hosted by R&B brewery. The PIG dinners are all about the pork, which has always been Refuel's specialty given that they buy and butcher their own pigs from Sloping Hill Farm on Vancouver Island. The location for this event was perfect, we were seated on beer kegs at long tables at the brewery while the beer flowed and the food kept coming.

The menu was a feat of pig-inspired cooking with most dishes featuring bacon or some other form of pig meat. The theme was picnic-styled, chef Jane was inspired by her childhood as well as the necessity of the big sharing plates and having to pre-cook most of the food since the brewery doesn't have a kitchen to speak of.

The table at the start of dinner, with The Cure salamis, prosciutto and pickled vegetables
Devilled eggs!
The amosphere in the room was excited and happy with everyone there fans and regulars of Refuel, knowing what they were in for. It was great to see some of the staff members as well that are so familiar, it felt like a big giant family reunion.

Beer marinated fried chicken
Talk about comfort food and the brilliant combination of bacon, beer and meat. I was very happily scarfing down this feast and slowly but surely reached epic heights of full-ness. R&B also presented their new beer, Darksnout bacon oatmeal stout. Beer with a smoky bacon flavor. What else is there to say?

The Darksnout ready to be tapped
Ridiculously good mashed potatoes with bacon and scallions
Beer braised Sloping Hill pork shoulder...fall-apart tender and oh so delicious
Beer infused maple glazed ham leg
Cheddar bacon cornbread with whipped lard
And finally...olive oil cake with candied bacon and crème fraîche
The table after an hour or so...

Jane Cornborough, the Refuel chef and Katherine Manson, Refuel manager
The kichen crew, happy after a job extremely well done!
Well, this was certainly one evening to remember. Many thanks to the Refuel crew for setting up this great event and to the R&B guys for having us. I hope that the Refuel legacy continues in the Fat Dragon, I wish Rob, Tom, Ted & Katharine the best of luck!

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