When kids play restaurant they think that by using pretty plates and tablecloths, describing their dishes in fancy ways, and charging higher than average prices, their establishment is automatically chic, upscale and worth every penny. They don’t usually think about what the plastic food tastes like because in pretend land, food is as good as the imagination. Sadly, reality isn’t quite the same.
Phil selected Refuel Restaurant for this month’s Dinner Club outing. Its website motto is “honest food relaxed atmosphere” and I don’t agree with either of those statements. The restaurant seemed to be suffering from an identity crisis; flipping between glorified dishes that all “taste beautiful” according to our server who was sporting a low-cut shirt displaying her breast tattoo, and over-priced bottled sodas paired with miniature dishes that were either over-salted, over-cooked, or tasted like broccoli (even though there was none in it). Based on taste alone, the dishes should’ve been served in take-out containers and with double the amount for half the price.
We started with seasonal vegetable soups, wild arugula salad, and warm spinach and mushroom salad. The salads didn’t taste beautiful or ugly, but they also didn’t garner much feedback either. They were ordinary salads on pretty white plates. Nobody remembers what was supposed to be in the soup, but nobody could tell either. Phil’s initial reaction was “tastes like broccoli” but we were certain the server did not mention any broccoli. Morten and I thought the soup was too watery and while Ang liked the croutons that garnished the plate, I thought they could’ve been crunchier.
For mains we ordered dry aged beef burgers, mushroom and crème fraiche ravioli, a foie gras croquette, and confit duck legs. Phil ordered the fois gras croquette on top of his burger and was very happy with it. Morten didn’t have a fois gras croquette but burned his tongue on the first bite of his burger when the oil from it squirted out. Ang, Kenny and I all thought the confit duck legs were overly salty and too skinny. It was as if they cooked duck legs in a pan and added salt thinking it would be the same as curing the duck, washing off the spices and then cooking the duck in its own fat (a proper duck confit). These ducks were probably on a diet before they were overcooked. Morten’s taste buds were muted from his cold, but he still complained that his fries were over-salted. For me, the final straw was the pickled apples that were served with the duck but didn’t taste pickled or fully cooked; they tasted like thin apple pieces that were added to a pan as an afterthought and added to the dish as little more than a weak garnish alongside mini onions taken straight from the jar.
There’s not much worth writing about at Refuel Restaurant so I’ll stop here. If you want honest food served with an unpretentious atmosphere, try another restaurant.
Overall Food Group Rating: 2.5 out of 6
The Good: The dishes and décor looked good.
The Bad: Nothing tasted great.
The Ugly: Unless the restaurant is a super casual place with homey hearty food served with paper napkins, or even a really hip joint with fantastic well-prepared dishes that are so great nothing else matters, patrons shouldn’t be able to see the server’s breast tattoo.