Saturday, March 14, 2015

'FUEL'ing Up (Clarion, IA)

Pizzas from L to R: Pesto Chicken, Carnivore, Loaded Spud
After spending a day in Mason City with my baby sister, she invited me and the boys to join her at Fuel in Clarion to watch the Iowa State game. Having heard great reviews by multiple people in the last couple weeks, we agreed to come check it out. As you may remember, we're all about "experiences" in my family, and I heard they had some different kinds of coal fire oven pizza that I thought we'd enjoy.

A couple blocks north of the "main intersection" in Clarion, we found it easily, and noticed there seemed to be patio seating. On a beautiful day like this that probably would have been my preference, but remember, we were there to watch the Big 12 Championship game (ISU vs KU). The first highlight was not even anything restaurant related, but the clientele! Dinner time on a Saturday night, they had a steady crowd, and as such the 5 of us were going to pull two small high top tables together. If you have ever traveled with a toddler you know this isn't ideal for corralling your kid, but we wanted to watch the game, and we wanted to eat there, so we made it work. Immediately a group of 3 who had a large table offered to move so we could all sit. Now I definitely call that #iowanice!

After delightedly discovering that they offered both Coke AND Pepsi products, as well as an extensive line of specialty beers and flavored Moscow Mules, we perused an varied menu of sandwiches and pizza. Wanting a large sampling of the menu, I took charge of ordering! For starters, we needed the beer battered, pretzel crusted cheese balls, and hey, since we're splurging on that diet anyway, let's add the spinach and artichoke dip with pizza chips. J and A chose an all meat pizza, the Carnivore, Michelle opted for a lighter option, the Pesto Chicken, and I went for the "unique" Loaded Spud.

The pizzas were excellent. On the Spud I expected something a little more... Rib Crib baked potato? And it was more of a fine dining type, with rosemary (which I obviously should have guessed, from the description on the menu. But you can't go wrong with bacon and sour cream, so I was pleased with my choice.

I'll be honest, I didn't try the Carnivore. In my world, an all meat pizza is an all meat pizza, and I wanted to save room, but Je and the boys enjoyed it, for sure. The Chicken Pesto was also very good. The pesto was subtle, but very tasty, and the tomatoes kept it very fresh. The only thing I found strange about the pizza was that they were cut in weird shapes and sizes. That's okay by me - it meant if we wanted to try a small piece, we could!

Now you'll notice I skipped the appetizers. That's because I am the kind of girl that can go out and only order appetizers. They're kind of my jam. If people still say that, that is. The cheese balls had a great crunch, and a hint of salt (the pretzel crusted-ness part, I imagine), and the dijon mustard they were served with totally made my night. However, the highlight of the evening. That artichoke dip, though! HO-LY COW. The pizza chips are what you would imagine, bite sized bits of dough, oven roasted. The dip was incredibly creamy and cheesy, and had enough of a kick to make you sit up and take notice. I could live on this dip. I won't, because I don't like to work out enough to make it all balance out, but I will definitely put that on the order every time we go - and we will definitely be back.

The atmosphere definitely played to the "Fuel" name, with an old school rustic fuel station kind of vibe, they have entertainment some nights I noticed, and tasting nights for their specialty beers. The service was impeccable. Even though almost all the front tables were full, as well as a couple in back, our server was still incredibly attentive and helpful.

And so, the damage: I thought it was really reasonably priced. We ordered 3 small (10") pizzas, 2 appetizers, 2 sodas, 2 domestic beers, and a Mango Mule, and came in under $70 (before tip). We also brought home the equivalent of a full pizza after feeding 3 adults and 2 kids to capacity.

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