Restaurants score points with me immediately by offering free Wi-Fi access. As I’ve said in this space ad nauseam, it’s the new water, people. It’s free and should be there as soon as you sit down.
Kudos to the newish Fusion for realizing this. Unfurling my laptop and settling in for dinner in the old Whetstone location adjacent to the Radisson hotel in Longmont, I scanned the heterogeneous decor: glass top tables with tablecloths wrap around most of the space, with the bar tucked into the north side of the building. Loud splashes of color peek around corners from vases and artwork to go with the gender-specific purple and green server aprons. Add in the jagged wall design, which necessitates diagonal table placement, and an interesting African zebra print that adorns the window shams and you can’t help but ask, does “fusion” simply mean con-fusion?
The fusion craze in the culinary arts has been so hip for so long now that it’s almost over. The idea, of course, is that by blending the greatest ingredients and most time-honored techniques from around the world, chefs may create new dishes that are much greater than the sum of their parts. What is great about these moments in food is that they occur largely on a single plate, or even in a single bite, and thus the artistry of the movement is in fusing flavors.
The menu at Fusion, however, seems more inclined to define its moniker in terms of inclusion. The fusion here manifests in the placing of different cuisines on the same menu. For example, classic steakhouse plates are on offer alongside more bistro-like fair such as risotto. Classic American dishes like the Garden Chicken give way to Mediterranean plates such as the Salmon Picatta. This kind of ambitious, everything-for-everyone approach can be found in many a corporate restaurant and often results in a sacrificing of depth for breadth. We would see if Fusion could avoid this trap.
As an appetizer, I bit on the chef’s special, an Ahi Tuna Dynamite Roll ($8) in which tuna, wasabi cream cheese, green onion and cilantro were wrapped in egg roll skin and nori (seaweed). Served with shaved carrot, the roll was visually vibrant. The flavor and texture, however, were shortcomings. Served hot, with the crispy egg roll skin, the tuna was cooked through and therefore offered no contrast in terms of texture or temperature. The cream cheese was unevenly distributed and therefore wasn’t in every bite.
Next I tried the spring vegetable risotto ($13), a dish the kitchen was good enough to split for me. Peas, artichokes, green beans, tomatoes and field mushrooms were lovingly blended with creamy mixture of rice, mint and garlic oil, and finished with a generous sprinkle of fresh, shaved Parmesan.
This dish was delectable. The vegetables tasted fresh and had good texture. This was not a singular risotto in my experience, but one of the better ones I’ve had.
A glass of Malbec was a lovely accompaniment to the Fusion Steak Frites ($16). This classic dish arrived at a connoisseur’s medium rare with a nice slather of garlic butter and a heaping mound of enjoyable fries. Every bite was lovely.
Desserts offer an interesting twist. Each is available in a bite-size portion for $2, or choose all five offerings for $9. I picked a chocolate torte, which was both as decadent and velvety as I hoped and refreshingly small. The elegant little concoction came complete with a chocolate ganache swizzle stick and was an apt close to a pleasant meal.
Fusion’s wine list by the glass is impressive, which is where the fusion-as-inclusion argument works well. Available are 20 or so from a variety of regions at a variety of price points. On an even more overwhelming scale is the martini and cocktail list.
Though Fusion’s menu is safe, it filled me with tasty food in a comfy environment. And I was able to check my e-mail.
1940 Ken Pratt Boulevard
Bottom line: Not breaking any new ground, but putting out some pretty tasty food in a comfortable environment.