Fine Dining in Lewiston? Try Fuel

When we first heard about Fuel, we have to admit we were skeptical. Fine dining? In Lewiston? On Lisbon Street?

But the menu won us over, as did positive reviews from some of our favorite foodies. Since we live in Orono, it's not exactly a quick trip for dinner, but after making — and canceling — reservations several times, we were finally able to experience Fuel.

And it is an experience. Owner Eric Agren has created a chic oasis in the heart of downtown, reviving a historic theater without sacrificing any of its charm. The warm, terra cotta walls and cozy seating make this a place where diners want to linger. And linger we did.

There were four in our party — the entire Maven team. One of us had special dietary needs, another is very particular about meats, and our server and the kitchen were incredibly accommodating. As we perused the French, bistro-style menu, we had a hard time deciding what not to order. Chef Justin Oliver clearly knows his way around the kitchen, and his attention to detail shines in each dish.

We've long thought that the soup course will tell you evErything you need to know about a restaurant. Often, it's an afterthought or a way to get rid of leftovers. At Fuel, soups are made to order — and made well. We loved the rich, complex onion soup with Gruyere, and the Truffled Corn Bisque was like velvet. Really buttery velvet.

The salads are sublime — we ordered watercress with blue cheese, paper-thin radishes and apples from the nearby Nezinscot Farm, along with a composed salad of olive tapenade, shaved fennel, arugula and roasted red peppers.

One surprise, which was not unpleasant, is that the main plates here are huge. As in, ginormous. The potato-encrusted salmon that came to our table was about three times as large as we were anticipating, and the Steak Frites was definitely enough for two meals. We also ordered a selection of appetizers as a main meal — Applewood Grilled Escargot, Steak Tartare, Frites. There was no room for dessert.

We'll be back. And next time, we'll order "Feed Me Justin," a four-course tasting menu tailored to the individual diners' tastes for a shocking $35 — pairings from Fuel's extensive wine list are an extra $15. We may even consider reserving the chef's table — in the kitchen — just to watch the drama unfold.

After all, Fuel is energy, and we want to be in the middle of it all.

Fuel is located at 49 Lisbon St. in Lewiston. For more information, visit Image credit: Fuel restaurant.


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