Culpeper goes Caribbean

By Posted on May 08 2015 | By

Fusion’s Restaurant & Lounge spices up local eatery scene

Fusion'sLisa Walters’ husband, Ivor, hails from Jamaica. Early in their marriage she realized food from his native country was essential to their dining table. And for 25 years she has kept a smile on his face as she mastered the cuisine of the Caribbean islands.

Today, that smile is spreading across the faces of an increasing number of Culpeper citizens. “Be happy, Mon!” might be the expression heard from customers as they rise from her dining tables. After all, authentic Caribbean food is as inviting as white sand beaches and blue ocean waters.

In April, Culpeper’s dining scene gained even more traction with the opening of Fusion’s Restaurant & Lounge located at 201 S East St. The restaurant is the culmination of Walters’ extensive kitchen experience.

“I’ve been catering for over 10 years. I did private parties and other functions,” Walters said. Her brother-in-law had a restaurant where she also helped out, developing her management skills to run her own place.

“Everybody told me that I should open a restaurant so my food could get out to more people. So that’s what I decided to do.”

The restaurant seats 88 and is appointed with colorful orange walls and dark brown chairs and tables creating a festive atmosphere in which to enjoy her creative dishes.

The menu is a blend of Caribbean and New American cuisine, a term used to describe the flavors of American cooking blended with a variety of foreign dining components. It embraces the innovative use of seasonings and sauces.

Fusion aptly describes the food and thus the name of the restaurant.

When asked how she would describe her food, Walters responds with one word “Spicy”. But dishes can be prepared from mild to well-seasoned, depending on a diner’s preference.

“Most people love my jerked chicken. That’s my specialty. It’s served with peppers and herbs,” Walters said.

caribbean foodThe chicken is marinated overnight in jerk seasonings then soaked the next morning in another marinade to make it juicy before being char-grilled. It’s typically served with rice, peas and sautéed cabbage. “But you can substitute cole slaw.”

A unique feature of the restaurant is their tasting menu. See something you are tempted to order but not sure how it tastes? Simply ask for a bite before placing the order.

It’s an inviting offer given the diversity of food on the menu. As one peruses the choices available “taste before you order” is an attractive option reducing the stress of ordering a dish you may not be unfamiliar with.

So how diverse is the menu? Very. A quick scan reveals a variety of dishes, including jerked chicken, curry chicken, curry shrimp, brown stewed chicken, oxtail, curry goat, shallow-fried stewed fish, jam down shrimp, shrimp tacos, fried plantains, grilled jerked sardines, and more.

Old standbys with a Caribbean touch are also offered such as Fusion’s jerked hamburger.

The lunch menu averages $10 and dinners $12 to $17. The restaurant currently does not serve breakfast but plans to do so in the future.

And if your work schedule curtails sitting down and dining, consider that 50 percent of the business is carry out. “We encourage calling ahead so we can have it ready but they can stop in anytime for carry out.”

Walters underscores that while Caribbean food predominates, American entrees are also available. “We have a chicken tenders basket, a shrimp basket, shrimp and grits, salads and, of course, hamburgers. We are not limited to just Caribbean.”

The eatery is also a family affair. Her son Victor works along side his mother and “does a bit of everything.” Mom has done a good job raising her right-hand man.

A good selection of beer, wines and cocktails are available at both lunch and dinner and the lounge segment of the business invites weekend partiers to stop by for a libation after a movie or show. “We are open to 2 a.m. on weekends.”

So how does the owner-chef feel about her growing business? “It’s a good experience. It’s wonderful having someone tell you they enjoyed your food. That’s what I do it for.

“I invite people to come out and help make our business a success. I want them to just try it. We already have regulars coming in,” said Walters.

Fusion’s is opened Tuesday through Thursday 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Friday, Saturday, Sunday 11:30 to 2 a.m.  (540) 825-0700.


Published in the May 7, 2015 edition of the Culpeper Times.

Categories : HAGARTY TALES