American and Italian fast-food comes alive at an eatery that blends the best of pop-culture with service to match.
It’s the most berserk ideas that go on to spawn successful businesses – being a bit bonkers can go a long way in setting you apart from the rest of the world.
And, fitting into the realms of berserk – or even fashionably quirky pop-cuisine, (if there exists such a thing) – is what Fuel Café does best.
This new pop-up in the heart of up-and-coming Baushar won us over with a striking Instagram page – one that revealed pics with those tasteful angles, contrast, and everything a foodie could ask for.
It’s a social media campaign done right. So, there’s was level of distinction it had moulded in us even before we even walked through the door.
Walking in, however, was an affair by itself.
For the most part, Fuel Café is an experience – the restaurant packs bold pop-culture themes with some truly whacky wall-art. There are life-sized go-karts dangling on the wall, while graffiti livens up the nightclub-like colour palette. It’s a fun place to hang out with your mates. A business lunch, perhaps not.
The waiters at the restaurant were quite busy on the Friday evening we walked in; tending to tables occupied by what seemed like young college groups in search of a fun setting to relax.
Still, we were seated quickly on one of the (dusty) sofas. Our other seating options were car racing-inspired revolving and reclining seats, which seemed a bit too over-the-top for our liking.
The (tablet) menus came soon after, pre-loaded with a slick yet intuitive layout to describe the list of options – which ranged from Italian all the way to American cuisine.
The burgers looked enormous from the pictures in the menu, while their versions of dynamite shrimp, pastas and sushi looked delectable enough to warrant a taste.
That’s exactly what we did – starting with a plate of their signature Maple Buffalo Prawns and Alternator Fries, along with glasses of Vimto, orange juice, and a Lotus milkshake.
It must’ve taken only five minutes for the first of the dishes to arrive. The Maple Buffalo Prawns – which were essentially dynamite shrimps – were brilliant. Crunchy on the outside and fresh on the inside, we devoured the platter in full before licking the plate clean.
The Alternator fries were loaded with chicken and cheese and, yet again, crafted to perfection. Tangy on the edges with a hint of jalapeño and doused in thick layers of mozzarella, and whole shebang was drenched with mayonnaise and ranch sauce and struck all the right (calorific) notes.
On the drinks front, it was the crushed Vimto that stood out from the rest. The blended bevvie fused ice with the syrupy-sweet yet refreshing grape-based Vimto to cleanse our palate. The Lotus shake was sweet and refreshing, though not worth writing home about.
For mains, we asked for an order of Cajun shrimp pasta and a Fuel Burger.
We found the service to be quick: all dishes made their way from the kitchen to the table in just over 10 minutes.
But what it made up for in time, it partly lost in flavour – at least in the case of the pasta.
Watered down a bit too much by the (overly) peppery base, the pasta didn’t do justice to the generous serving of Cajun-tossed shrimps.
The zest just didn’t taste right either, with a base of overpowering Cajun spices creating a run-of-the-mill dish – the first of its kind after the chefs pulled a stellar show with the entrées.
This setback didn’t last very long: the burgers that soon came in were simply spectacular, with the Fuel Burger coming in to save the night.
Each bite revealed a burst of flavours emanating from the beef patty, while the patty itself was flawlessly grilled – with just the right amount of char to give it a hint of smokiness. Couple that with a generous dose of cheddar cheese and their secret Fuel Café sauce, and our craving for an authentic American burger was more than satisfied.
Fuel Café puts on a great show for the most part; everything from the overall ambience to the dishes and even the service is designed to bring out the best of what Oman’s roadside dining can offer.
A simple idea that’s been tweaked to create something truly stunning. This is Omani entrepreneurship at its very best – and at price-points that would have you asking for seconds… and thirds.
Al Maha Street, Baushar
Opening hours: 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 midnight
Contact: (+968) 9356-1619
(A heavy) Supper for four: RO32
The best of modern fast-food crammed into a setting that aims to capture a pop-culture theme that sets this eatery apart from the rest.
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