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Fuel: Lewiston ME

They say, Dual, that you've lived in Lewiston too long when you start thinking of Brunswick as a good restaurant town. And I have my favorite Brunswick spots -- and my favorites in Boston, Portland, NY, Washington, etc. I am lucky to be able to travel in my work and eating in a variety of restaurants is a habit and a joy.

Eating at Fuel, so close to home, is a wonder. There I have enjoyed full course meals, as well as meals comprised entirely of delicious and varied "sides." My favorites include the sublime salads, the steak frites (gorgeous), and yes, the coq au vin. The food is just plain tasty, and if there's too much of it, I take it home to relish later. (Come ON. I know you fancy Brunswick folks believe in doggy bags, just like the hoi polloi here in L/A.)

I do have two complaints about Fuel, both of which, tellingly, revolve around cheese. First, the Caesar salad used to be served in a bowl of crunchy parmesan -- absolute heaven. A few weeks after opening the sublime cheese bowls disappeared. We questioned the waitress and discovered that fussy chef Justin wasn't sure that his crew could always produce the same perfect product -- so he took them off the menu rather than serve an imperfect version. I wept, but understood. My fantasy is that someday I'll eat dinner in the kitchen and he'll make one just for me.

Hey. A girl's gotta have fantasies, right?

My second cheese complaint involves an apple tarte I had a week or so ago. It was served with a crust of cheddar. AND ice cream. Choose one, dear. We don't need both and cheese ice cream is just plain weird.

That said, fried green tomatoes, crisp haricots verts kissed with shallots, and leek and potato gratin -- yum. The gratin, with a glass of wine, would be dinner enough for a less greedy gal.

Oh, and by the way Dual -- Lisbon Street hasn't been "one of the state's principal commercial avenues" since Pica was a little girl, many moons ago. (When her mom used to bring her to Lewiston whenever she needed a 'dress up dress'.) But dude, Lisbon Street has improved mightily over the past decade -- you may see Somali grocery stores, but I see evidence of a vital new culture taking root in our city. And you may not have noticed that Lisbon Street is home to much development -- banking centers, a college, law offices and professional buildings have joined the beautifully revitalized Lewiston Public Library and the courthouse. Oh, and that big building across the street? That’s the major call center for LLBean. Open your eyes -- it is a vital neighborhood, albeit not an itsy-putsy cute college town like Brunswick.

I guess the biggest sign of Fuel’s success is that I frequently can’t get a reservation for the weekend if I call after Thursday morning. Can you think of a restaurant in Brunswick – maybe since 22 Lincoln closed nearly 20 years ago – of which you can say the same?

Kudos to the Agrens and to Chef Justin. Oh, and work on those parmesan bowls, would ya?

Sep 26, 2007
pica in Northern New England