Getting drunk in a health-food restaurant is a little like smoking a cigarette in the gym. But is it an exercise in cognitive dissonance or a healthy dose of replenishing antioxidants? In either case, here I am, tossing back a (very healthy-sized) Manhattan ($7.50) and nibbling at plates of roasted potatoes, baked calamari steaks, and green olive and walnut tapenade (all $1.95). It’s happy hour at Functional Fuel.
This is the second try for Functional Fuel, the Harbor Steps restaurant with the oddball name and the self-consciously healthy cuisine. The first go-round was a confusing disaster, due to a weird menuarranged, Food for Life-style, into categories like “fuel for work,” “fuel for thought,” and “fuel for play”that was light on calories but heavy on concept. The hours have also improved; except for Sunday, when it still closes at 9 p.m., it now stays open until midnight.
It’s still a health-food restaurant no getting around it. The tuna salad sandwich ($6.50) won’t fool mayo-and-relish purists (it’s made with hummus and basil pesto), and the potatoes (served with all sandwiches) are baked, not fried. And there’s no red meat, so don’t even think about asking for a buffalo burger. Still, it’s far better than your average Garden-Burger-and-juice jointand cleaner, too.
The aforementioned tuna salad, served with sprouts and tomatoes on sprouted wheat bread, is creative, if a little dry. The roasted potatoes, though not salty enough for my taste, were crisp and coated with a tasty spice mix, and the calamari were superb: baked in a crispy coating and just heated through. Dry and unadorned, the happy-hour chicken satay ($1.95) was nothing special, but the sauce that came with it was tangy and spiked with spicy chiles. And though the Southwest vegetable and chicken roll-up ($6.95), a whole-wheat tortilla stuffed with roasted chicken, zucchini, peppers, sweet potatoes, beans, tomatoes, and tomatillos, could have done with fewer ingredients and more flavor, a dash of Tabasco made up for what the hefty wrap lacked in zing.
A lot of Functional Fuel’s old menu items make an encore. The obligatory veggie burger (or “quark burger,” $7.95) now comes with real cheese, not the rubber vegan stuff; and the grilled chicken sandwich ($6.95), topped with a piquant lemon-rosemary spread, is back on the lunch menu. For dinner, Northwest seafood stew ($12.95)prawn-and-salmon-based with chipotle chiles, served over mashed sweet potatoeslooks tempting, and the Turkish eggplant and tomato ragout ($7.95, also served with the calamari) would make a satisfying, if light, preshow dinner. Indulgent, Functional Fuel ain’t. But if you like a martini with your guilt-free roasted halibut ($15.95), it may be just the place for you.