Refuel – Vancouver, BC


Refuel
1944 W 4th Avenue
Vancouver, BC
(604) 288-7905

[This report is from an outing from this past fall – it had been sitting in the incomplete queue for a while, various travels led me to leave this aside until now, apologies.]

Putting on special events is something that a restaurant can do to draw some attention to itself and cut through all the clutter of marketing hype and word-of-mouth buzz generated among regular patrons and prospective new customers.  With so many ways to do this, I think a lot of them are really lost when it comes to pulling off a creative concept. Refuel, with its strong pedigree from its previous incarnation as Fuel, and the strong reputation of its lead man Rob Belcham, have found a way in recent years to conduct an annual event that has now led to a trio of seatings in a single night to commemorate a pig-fueled anniversary celebration.

This year for the Whole Hog Dinner, they brought in a partner to compliment their set course, family-style meal by adding some cask beer creations from the local R&B Brewing Company.  This even involved the participation of some of the brewers themselves who were responsible for concocting the brews that were on hand this particular evening.  They were as follows and recommended pairings with each of the three food courses that were served.

1. Lemongreass sungod ale

2. Oaked raven cream ale

3. Bacon stout

The experienced beer drinking fellows in our group had favorable comments on the course one paired lemongrass ale.  In fact, many noted they wished they’d just stuck to that for the other two pints they had instead of following the recommendations and falling victim to the curiosity factor.  Especially when it came to the bacon stout, which had a hint of the pork product, but frankly felt weak overall.  The thoughts on the cream ale were that it wasn’t creamy enough too.

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Fore Street – Portland, ME


Fore Street
288 Fore St
Portland, ME 04101-4109
(207) 775-2717

The wave of public opinion is an interesting thing. You see it all the time, especially on public forums and boards like chowhound or egullet. Someone posts about a new restaurant – usually it’s very positive, and people get excited. They want to go and experience it for themselves. They all go in a flood, and validate what the original poster stated. “Nice service, great command of ingredients and technique, wonderful meal”. More people visit, and more people enjoy.

After some time, a few negative reviews come up. Natural, since it is hard for any restaurant to maintain their game day in and day out. But with the really popular restaurants, you start to get this negative backlash. A push. The term “overrated” is thrown around a lot. People go in with very high expectations, and come out disappointed. More pushback. More negative reviews.

Has the quality at the restaurant changed that much? Honestly, it’s hard to tell. I’ve been to some universally lauded restaurants that I didn’t like for one reason or another. I’ve been to some restaurants that have been criticized heavily, and found it to be very enjoyable. It’s why I always reiterate to people to “taste what’s in front of you.” Think about what you’re having, and actually taste it. Don’t assume that what I had tastes the same when you have it. Don’t automatically assume something will be good, or bad. Having an open mind is the most important thing when trying to qualify a dining experience.

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