Chances are you’ll never see Fuel, 1225 Walnut St. (aka the space formerly known as Philadelphia Home and Garden), featured in an installment of “Eat This, Not That.”
That’s because every dish on its West Coast-inspired New American menu is made fresh and clocks in under 500 calories — and everything’s under $10. One more bonus: All of the items on Fuel’s menu have a Weight Watchers points value assigned to them.
(Note: Those prices and calorie counts go slightly out the window if you start racking up add-ons like chicken, shrimp, tofu, etc., on dishes that didn’t already have them.)
And these aren’t the only things Fuel has going for it. With a sparse and modern décor, an impressive delivery area and a selection of coffee and juice drinks, there’s no reason Fuel can’t be the go-to place for Philly’s health-consciously peckish.
Naturally, we were concerned that such welcome and well-needed constraint meant that either the dishes were going to be small or lacking in flavor, but those fears were put to rest.
The appetizers are particularly exciting. The tomato and goat cheese guacamole ($7.95) was thick, extremely chunky and satisfying. The black bean and tomato salsa ($6.95) was robust and the sweat pea wonton dip ($6.95) was a pleasant surprise, delivering bold texture and flavor. Other must-have appetizers included the hummus ($6.95), which came piled high with fresh, thick-cut vegetables, and the spicy Spanish skewered shrimp ($8.95), which was about as good a specimen as you will find anywhere in town, and served with crushed red pepper and cucumber yogurt.
Without the complex and calorie-laden accoutrements and dressings of lesser salad menus, Fuel does a great job keeping its salads big, flavorful and filling.
The deconstructed guacamole salad had a nice kick with a light citrus jalapeño dressing clinging to the arugula, avocado, red onion and tomatoes that filled the nice-sized bowl. A little more subdued — but no less delicious — was the tuna and arugula salad ($8.95) with white beans, tomatoes, red onion and olives in lemon vinaigrette.
All the sandwiches on Fuel’s entrée menu have the option of being served panini style or in a wrap (whole wheat or white). The closest any diner will ever get to decadence on Fuel’s menu is the high-protein grilled cheese ($6.95). While it isn’t your mother’s grilled cheese, it does impress, hitting all the right comfort-food spots with the inclusion of lemon cream cheese among the mozzarella, provolone, spinach and tomato. The Thai chicken ($8.95) was also hearty, loaded with fresh cucumber, carrots, crunchy noodles and a very-essential spicy peanut sauce that made the sandwich sing.
Even with the impressive food served up thus far, we were skeptical about dessert. And we were proven wrong again. Who needs death by chocolate when you can have an equally irresistible (and far more responsible) pistachio gelato ($4)? Also crave-worthy is the banana whip ($4), concocted of frozen bananas whipped into a sorbet-like consistency and served plain or with Nutella or strawberries to liven things up.
Who knew eating responsibly could be so much fun?