By Michael Lowe
Downtown St. Catharines has seen an upswing of new restaurant openings lately. Last week, Fusion Seafood Kitchen opened its doors inviting guests to share their distinctive take on seafood dishes, and much more.
I heard about Fusion’s pending opening on social media a couple of weeks prior and was itching to try it. Fusion Seafood Kitchen advertises a “twist of French, Japanese and Caribbean cuisine.” During our visit, on the day after opening, I have to say that the theme, including the music, was decidedly Caribbean— and that’s just fine with me. The restaurant’s interior combines a striking contrast of black and red booths (photo above) and tables, punctuated by the colourful chalkboard menu (top photo).
During the opening weekend they offered a taste of the seafood chowder (photo above, right). It’s a savoury, slightly sweet broth with a touch of coconut. My sample had nuggets of salmon, scallop and mussels along with some sweet corn on the cob — hearty, tasty, satisfying stuff. Coconut shrimp (photo above, left) have a nice crunchy coating that yields to offer a perfectly cooked, plump, moist and tender shrimp which marry nicely with the sweet chili dipping sauce.
There are a number of fish selections, which can be ordered with your choice of sauces. We go for the salmon with mango pineapple sauce (photo above). It’s a generous portion of salmon — three pieces — topped with a medley of peppers, carrot, broccoli, cauliflower and onions. The sauce is beautifully balanced with a distinct, fresh ginger note. Flavours on the plate were every bit as vibrant as the colourful presentation. One side dish comes with your entree but we both opted for the rice and peas, just to keep with the theme.
I can’t resist ordering jerk chicken if I see it on a menu, especially in a restaurant that has an obvious Caribbean vibe. Fusion’s version, featuring scratch-made jerk sauce is simply stunning. It’s fiery stuff, and as authentic as any I enjoyed in Jamaica. Be prepared for the endorphin rush from the heat. But the flavours stand up to the heat offering a perfect balance between the two aspects — although I still needed two icy cold beers to get through it. There’s heat from Scotch bonnet pepper, sweetness of brown sugar, plenty of thyme in the background, and the signature spices used in jerk — most notably, allspice. Chicken is fall-off-the-bone tender and the portion, again, is generous. This jerk chicken is as real as it gets around here and I, honestly, can’t wait to have it again.
Once the heat subsided, I approached the open kitchen to share my opinion of the jerk chicken. This is when I learned the basis for the authenticity. The chef and owner of Fusion, Anthony Parris, was born in Calgary, but he grew up in Jamaica. I’d say he learned very well.
Our server offers a taste of their homemade fruit juices which are delicious — I think the fruit punch would make one hell of a good rum punch! The food at Fusion was a pleasant surprise, but there’s more. You can’t beat the value. Our bill, with two beers and tax included, came to just $59. It’s great to see the variety of restaurants coming to downtown St. Catharines. Fusion Seafood Kitchen is one more welcome option.
45 Geneva St.,