The Reveal – Fuego Tapas Bar
After a revolutionary trip to Barcelona last year, “The skies opened; the angels sang,” and Chef Stephanie Brewster decided to open her first restaurant in downtown Oakville, with husband Shawn.
The first Chopped Canada winner and chef instructor at Fanshawe College, with more than 25 years of experience in the industry, has created a unique spot that feels like a traditional Spanish tapas bar found on a narrow, cobbled Barcelona lane.
“My menu is about experiences and memories,” Brewster says.
Offering both traditional and contemporary tapas, she has created almost 20 dishes for the dinner menu. The lunch menu features $5 dishes, as well as other tapas fare and three desserts, all designed to be served alongside lively sangrias and Spanish wines.
There’s a modernist bent to her food – all meats are cooked sous vide and she has a modern presentation style, too.
Dishes are uniquely plated in Brewster’s signature swirls and dots that she’s been developing for the last 10 years, and now sees copied elsewhere. She won’t send out a dish unless she’s happy with the presentation.
Only one dish comes in at $25. Otherwise, it’s $19 and under, making it affordable for the whole family.
More wines will be added to the wine list by the end of May. In the meantime, choose from a small selection of reds and whites from Spain, Argentina, Australia and South Africa (3 and 6 oz. gls $4.50-$12; btls $32-$36). BYOB is also available with $25 corkage fee.
Fuego Sangrias ($10) are also on offer in red, white or sparkling, as well as three imported beers ($8), two domestic ($6) and a variety of cocktails ($7.50 to $16).
Fixtures & Fittings
Full of “character and charm,” Stephanie says, describing the space.
The 144-year-old building came complete with old radiators and was in need of a “facelift,” Shawn says. The renovations took just five weeks to complete.
Deep wine-coloured walls and dark furniture add drama to the small room.
A hexagonal bar is located near the entrance. Otherwise, the decor is kept simple – Spanish silhouette prints by Picasso and black chandeliers.
Note: The entrance is easy to miss, so keep an eye out.
Off the Menu
Carne Y Queso Board ($25) A creative platter of salami, prosciutto, chorizo and manchego from Spain; seared halloumi, saffron aioli, apple butter, pumpkin seed praline, panko crusted goat cheese topped with apple crisp, blistered shishito peppers, and mixture of Spanish olives.
Crispy Pork Belly ($14) Sous vide for 18 hours then pan-seared, the pork gets soft and chewy, finished with a crispy crust. A thick, sticky, dark ale gastrique adds depth, while a curlicue apple butter design adds whimsy to the plate.
Red Wine Roasted Chorizo ($9) Spicy sausage is slowly braised in red wine with apple and served on a bed of crunchy pomegranate seeds.
Orange Scallops ($16) The restaurant’s number one seller boasts sweet orange flavours reminiscent of a Creamsicle. Scallops are seared in a cast iron pan and treated to a candied orange butter sauce with vanilla salt.
Orange Glazed Duck ($17) Two thick slices of crispy seared duck breast are swathed with sweet orange glaze, served with cauliflower puree, glazed blueberries and pomegranate arils. The presentation here is particularly of note – Modernist and playful, little dots of cauliflower puree have been added to just part of the bowl’s rim, then studded with the pomegranate arils.
Moroccan Spiced Lamb Chops ($19) Three medium rare lamb chops are crusted in aromatic spices, accompanied by sweet potato hash mixed in with caramelized onions. Artistic strokes of cauliflower puree, dotted with an ellipses of balsamic reduction, finish the plate.
Save room for dessert. Brewster taught pastry for years and her talent for it is enough for her to open a dedicated dessert shop.
Based on her first trip to Spain at the age of 18 and the first time she was away from home, “I had to have churros on the menu. Food is so personal.” Here, the Chocolate Con Churros ($8) featuring cinnamon dusted churros and Spanish hot chocolate, is perfection. And the sponge toffee in the Chocolate Cremeux ($8 - creme Anglaise, sponge toffee, espresso sugar and candied orange) is better than the stuff you had as a kid.
The dining room accommodates 35 guests.
At the Stove: Chef Stephanie Brewster and team
Head Honchos: Stephanie and Shawn Brewster
FOH: Shawn Brewster and team
Map It: 151 Lakeshore Rd. E. (right on the main strip)
Tuesdays and Wednesday – 11:30 am to 9 pm
Thursdays – 11:30 am to 10 pm
Fridays and Saturdays – 11:30 am to 11 pm
Sundays – 11:30 am to 9 pm
Phone it in: 289-837-3473
How Cool is This?! Brewster has a dinner series in the works, with a focus on French/Italian/Spanish and Mediterranean fare with fellow chefs JohnRoss Woodland (also a Chopped Canada winner; his restaurant Noble Bistro is across the street from Fuego) and Massimo Capra (who owns Capra Kitchen, not far from the restaurant).
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