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Fuel (Lunch Review)

By Brian Cross · May 13th, 2009 · The Dish

I recently read an article about making biodiesel fuel out of spent coffee grounds. The grounds yield stable oil that can be extracted and converted into a roasted-smelling fuel.

Well, cars don’t run on coffee yet, but there is a place in Greater Cincinnati that exemplifies a kinship between cars and coffee. Fuel (2726 Riverside Drive, East End, 513-533- 3835), a new coffeehouse in the former Koka location, makes use of a former gas station lot during their Car and Coffee Saturdays. Between 8 a.m. and noon, car enthusiasts and collectors roll in to chat and show their vintage, muscle or just plain badass rides.

My girlfriend’s gold Hyundai was welcome as well but didn’t attract much attention. (It’s what’s on the inside that counts!) It’s a fun scene if you have a sweet ride or if you just want to look around and have some coffee.

But this is no gas station coffee. Fuel serves a good strong cup o’ Joe (a few blends available each day) along with specialty drinks, fruit smoothies and pastries.

With little room inside to enjoy your tasty snacks, Fuel isn’t the place to bring the ol’ laptop and camp out for a couple hours. But it is the place to hang out on a sunny morning and enjoy the view of the Ohio River and downtown.

And that’s exactly what I did on a recent Saturday. I was happy to find that they serve iced coffee, which I’m basically addicted to during the warmer months. I was also happy to find that it was good and strong and not watered-down. Ah, there’s nothing better.

I also enjoyed a couple of pastries, which are supplied by a one-woman company out of Anderson called Flour Power. The first was a quiche with asparagus and leeks ($4.50). The flavor was mild, but it was good nonetheless.

The Morning Glory Muffin ($2) is where it’s at. A perfect blend of carrots, raisins, cinnamon and more makes your morning glorious. It was sweet, crumbly and soft and went great with the coffee.

Other pastries available include quiche Lorraine, brownies and scones. My girlfriend opted for a delicious Very Berry smoothie ($2.95) made with fruit juice and ice that hit the spot while we wandered between old cars, feeling nostalgic.

Co-owner Michael Defallco recommends the Buckeye Mocha, which he says tastes a bit like Reese’s Pieces. Fuel also offers its own “power bar” made with rolled oats and apricot. Pair it with a cup of Energy Iced Tea for a boost any time of day. Chili or soup are also available for takeout.

Maybe one day we’ll be able to get good coffee and fill up our cars with biodiesel at Fuel, but for now we’ll just fuel ourselves there.

CONTACT BRIAN CROSS: letters@citybeat.com



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