The Fuel House
53 Clinton Street
In her opinion:
The first time I walked by the Fuel House restaurant on our way to dinner at Acadia, I knew I wanted to eat there. It didn't look fancy, it didn't look super upscale, what it did look was welcoming. It looked like the type of casual neighbourhood spot that is cozy and fun with that promise of good food.
Having spent a foodie day in Toronto, we wanted to finish our day with lighter fare and Fuel House's sandwich heavy menu was perfect. Owner Mackenzie sat us and took care of our orders. What a super nice guy. He complements this casual and cozy place perfectly by making you feel right at home in his house.
I ordered a pint of Beau's to start. This beer is excellent. It was the first time I had it and I really enjoyed it. We ordered a couple of appetizers/snacks to begin. The "Pork Belly Confit Cubes" and "Fried Calamari" were our picks. The pork belly was served with a hoisin sesame sauce. The calamari was served with a remoulade sauce. The pork belly was delicious and the addition of the sauce added the right amount of sweetness. The calamari was ethereal. Not the least bit greasy. Light and delicious.
As my main, I ordered the "Calamari Po'Boy" - fried calamari, pickled onions and remoulade. It is served with a side of coleslaw.
I thought this sandwich was outstanding. The bun was perfect. The calamari is the same ethereal perfection as the appetizer. The sauce is an excellent balance of flavours. Finally, the pickled onions add the right amount of crunch and sourness. I haven't had such a good sandwich in a long while. Even the coleslaw was good.
My only regret about the experience was the fact that we had no room for dessert. But, I hope to be back to this awesome place and enjoy more of their menu including their dessert menu.
In his opinion:
Fuel House is the type of place I wish I had near my house so I could kill my cravings of good drinks and great food in one place. It's where inviting meets Irish Pub and good bistro food, all in a casual setting. It's almost like going to a friend's house for amazing food and drinks.
From the outside it looks like any other converted Victorian home but the owners have meticulously maintained that "at home feel" throughout the place. The owner Mackenzie is very helpful, engaging and quickly made us feel at home by taking immediate care of our drink and food needs.
I started off with a Stella Artois beer while I perused the small but very inviting menu. It is heavy on the sandwiches but every item looked great, so decision time got harder as I read on.
Finally, because we were still full from lunch and the Pie Shack mid-afternoon snack, we could not try as much of the menu as I originally anticipated. I saw it as a way to come back to Fuel House again soon (always glass full here).
I began with the Pork Belly Confit Cubes, served with sesame hoisin sauce. I personally love pork belly anyway I can get it but this one was extremely good. The Chinese sauce Hoisin (Haixin) that oddly enough translates to "seafood" but contains no fish, is a great pairing to the confit. Not traditionally used in pork, hoisin works very well with this dish and kudos to the chef for trying it.
Along with that we ordered the "Fried Calamari". Golden, not overly crispy and softly battered (just how I like it), it was complimented well by a pinkish Remoulade sauce. Remoulade is a common theme throughout quite a few dishes on the menu. The calamari was soft and very tasty on it's on as well.
We followed up with the "Fish Tacos 2 ways". These are served on a soft but crispy tortilla and with remoulade, pickled onions, lettuce and cilantro on one and the other with pea sprouts, pickled ginger and wasabi mayo. I prefered the first myself but would be happy eating either, any time of the day.
The "Calimari Po'Boy" sandwich was the last choice for the evening and it was very good. The type that sometimes you can't even describe and one needs to experience for themselves. The coleslaw gets a special mention due to its subtle flavour and lightness of the vinegar.
This place has a lot of charm and is very cosy and inviting. During the warmer months, the backyard patio surely must take centre stage, adding to the seating capacity and providing a great backdrop to an afternoon/evening of drinks and good food.
Let us not forget that Fuel House has a lot of competition for good food in this street and neighbourhood but stands very well on its own, as a definite must try.
Special mention to the pig roasts starting in May. Mackenzie showed us the pictures from last year's pig roasts held in the outside patio and I wanted to make my reservation right there and then. It requires a minimum reservation for 8 people and a whole suckling pig is roasted and served to your open air table. Whereelse can you get this type of experience in TO's down town core? So, go make your reservations now, while you still can.
The Good: Unpretentious good food in a home setting with a pub feel. Simple but genial combination.
The Bad: Why isn't it across the street form my house. Limited seating inside.
The Verdict: Definitely above the usual pub food grub and a great place for drinks. The service enhances the great atmosphere and there is a patio both in the front and the back for the great Summer days and nights
I give it a 3 1/2 Olives out of 5 as rating