Saturday, February 14, 2009

Fuzio Universal Bistro Review

A great atmosphere, cool decor, good staff. Food hit and miss.

We ate at Fuzio for Valentines day. I have to disclose that I was part of the founding team for the concept. So my observations may be more proprietary than normal. The wait was manageable.

The first thing I noticed was that the staff selection has improved here. The feel of the place is as "hip, urban adult" as can be in Fresno. As well, the bar is now looking like a proper bar, and the amateurish white board for specials is now a proper chalk board.

The service is as it should be, professional, quick and informal. Our server did a good job selling a martini, which we had to pass on, since we still had some driving to do. Fortunately others were not so abstinantive. All the drinks looked good and the bartender and manager were more than competent in the bar. More kudos!

The kitchen staff was in full cook gear, including hats. This is another improvement and added to the appearance of a professional staff. I felt confident things were going to go well.

Our food arrived in good time, so I was starting to re-believe. The Springrolls were fresh and well balanced, as good tasting as ever. They were rolled a bit too loose though. The accompanying carrot salad was not right- little garlic and ginger. Clearly being treated as a garnish, reduced in size and hidden under the rolls. Too bad, it could be a value adding part of the dish.

Then I dug into the Southwestern Gemelle Chicken. A creamy chipotle sauce with corn, roasted red and Anaheim chilies and chicken. This one missed the mark. The chilis were used parsimoniously, so added little to the dish. The corn was frozen, not fresh off the cob I would wager. OK, but not a real additive component. Four slices of chicken breast in a dish costing $10.25? The sauce, which is a labor of love to prep was minute in portion and thinned to the consistency of water, probably when the pastas was added to the saute. The flavor was complex, warm and wonderful, but the execution made this dish a miss.

Fortunately for others, every dish coming off the line looked great. The cooks were really competent and the show in the display kitchen was entertaining.

Fuzio portions are sized for one to eat, with little to no leftover. The flavor profiles are meant to be interesting, bold and deep. This evening we only got part of that promise. And at the prices now on the menu, there is no room for error. A plate of pasta for over $10 demands executional excellence.

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