Friday, March 7, 2014
By NANCY HEISER
(Continued from page 1)
Fuel at 49 Lisbon St., Lewiston.
Photos by John Patriquin/Staff Photographer
Owner Eric Agren holds a menu and the restaurant’s extensive international wine list at Fuel.
FUEL, 49 Lisbon St., Lewiston. 333-3835; fuelmaine.com
HOURS: 5 to 9 p.m. Tuesday to Thursday; 5 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The bar stays open one hour later. Closed Sunday and Monday
CREDIT CARDS: All major
PRICE RANGE: Appetizers, $5 to $10; entrees, $19 to $26; four-course tasting menu, $40. The bar menu includes soups, burgers and bacon-dusted frites, $6 to $12.
GLUTEN-FREE: Yes. Each plate is made to order. The kitchen can accommodate dietary needs.
RESERVATIONS: Highly recommended
BAR: Full. The international wine list of more than 150 bottles changes weekly, and includes a wide variety of prices. Twenty-five bottles under $25; 30 wines by the glass, starting at $5. The restaurant is a Wine Spectator award winner. Five beers on tap. Large spirits selection.
WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: Yes
BOTTOM LINE: Fuel brings a stylish urban atmosphere, excellent French-inspired food, a strong wine list and upscale customer traffic to the small art galleries, converted mill spaces, an immigrant-owned shop and long-established businesses in an evolving downtown Lewiston. If you're a local who enjoys food, you know about this favorite. If not, gas up and head to Fuel for an evening of outstanding dishes served by skilled, unstuffy wait staff in a warm, fashionable space.
Ratings follow this scale and take into consideration food, atmosphere, service and value:
* Poor ** Fair *** Good **** Excellent ***** Extraordinary.
The Maine Sunday Telegram visits an establishment twice if the first dining experience was unsatisfactory. The reviewer dines anonymously.
The pastry in our tarte tatin dessert stuck together as a pliable unit rather than crackling and flaking, but the peaches and the melting ice cream with candied bacon were ambrosia indeed. A dark chocolate flourless cake was appropriately dense and light at once (both $8). Its house-made ice cream topping bore a tinge of salutary smokiness from the mixture's time spent cooling in an applewood smoker, an unusual step that subtly boosted the dessert's chocolate flavor.
A couple of minor points kept the overall dining experience at Fuel on a high, earthly plane. A kitchen helper brought out entrees before our appetizer plates were cleared, which momentarily turned us diners into dish jugglers. The Caesar salad ($6), fresh, piquant and classic, nevertheless needed a better balance of greens to drizzle (less of the latter). Desserts did not quite deliver heaven on a plate.
But all things considered, we experienced a dinner that ranks among the top few of my last six months as a restaurant critic.
Finally, a word about Fuel's economy. We had three appetizers, three glasses of wine, four entrees, two desserts and coffee for about $40 per person, excluding tip. For food of this quality, that's not bad, mesdames and monsieurs. Pas du tout.
Nancy Heiser is a freelance writer.