story + photos by kendra pearce
Fuel Bistro and Wine
109 S. 65th Ave., Ste. 108, Ridgefield
Fuel Bistro and Wine has cut its teeth and is embracing its second autumn tucked away in the unlikeliest of places, the Ridgefield Junction. Although the location is peculiar, the menu and chef are remarkable.
Sebastian Carosi is exactly what one would expect from a man who has chosen local food as his life’s path leaving a wake of national and international accolades behind him as he moves toward new food passions, projects and continued community activism. Unapologetic for his beliefs, unflinching in his choices, and nearly unequalled in his talents for providing inventive local food, Carosi has provided yet another affordable place to enjoy the best of the region.
The menu, a simple piece of paper, the Slow Food Snail and Monsanto Skull and Crossbones in the corner (a direct reflection of the tattoo on Carosi’s wrist), and a wine list that showcases Fuel’s understated yet consistent message to their patronage – eat local. “Every wine served here is from Oregon and Washington; I know the winery or I won’t sell it” is Carosi’s philosophy and reflected in his staff’s ability to discuss the wine and food at length.
The fare is more than one expects from the minute kitchen – salads, soups, single plates and sandwiches, but the ingredients are what make this place work. A thoughtful seasonal menu reflects Carosi’s foraging passions and his ability to seek out the best regional ingredients, including salt from Jacobsen’s, cheese from Cascadia and Rogue creameries and bitters, nettle and mushrooms from Carosi’s forays.
While the summer menu boasted tomatoes from Ridgefield’s own Northwest Organics, the autumn menu focuses on heartier flavors. Carosi has brought back a favorite: the slightly spicy, incredibly flavorful vegetarian Farmhouse Soup, as well as new additions – mushroom strudel featuring foraged chanterelles in a mustard cream, and the smoked salmon club with applewood bacon, smoky mayonnaise on pumpernickel served with a side of lemonade vinaigrette dressed greens or fresh kettle chips.
There are many places that have jumped on the local food bandwagon; Fuel Bistro and Wine has the unique fortune of having a man behind the food that is a true pioneer in the concept. You won’t find artificial sweetener for the tea, you will pay extra for bread and fat, and you will find that Carosi and staff truly believe that “food and wine are a passion-driven business; it comes from your heart and your hands.”