Neighbourhood: River Heights
Address: 550 Academy Rd
Phone: (204) 489-6963
Local is a buzzword, and it’s been fusion grill owner, Scot McTaggart’s mantra since his 40-seat Academy Road eatery opened in 1996. You can taste his effort and intention in each dish—from Manitoba strawberries that garnish desserts to sustainable freshwater fish. Food here is delectable and transparently socially responsible.
An all-star cast of Canadian wines studs one wall to the ceiling and commendable servers are well equipped to recommend stunning pairings.
The menu is always evolving, reflecting the growing season and demand, and is printed on lovely glossy paper—astrosilver veloute— as a graphic designer friend pointed out with approval. The harmonized small touches, such as a menu with a texture that pleases, a clever cylindrical cocktail list that occupies minimal precious table space and hand rolled truffles that arrive with the check, cumulate an enchanting experience.
This attention to detail may be most evident on Chef Lorna Murdoch’s exquisitely composed plates. Colour and texture tango together, seducing the eye but it’s aroma and taste that rob diners of speech at first bite, ‘Mmmmm,’ is a common refrain.
A salad of swollen Warkentin tomatoes and golden avocado tempura ushers in the flavours of summer. Subtle alfalfa honey vinaigrette enhances the red fruit’s natural sweetness. Bits of fried basil fleck the plate, sending taste buds on a Mediterranean journey.
To avoid dish envy of neighbouring tables, be sure to order the steamed PEI mussels. Perfect for sharing, these sweet and plump meaty morsels are dressed with verdant basil pesto, smoky cloves of roasted garlic and earthy sundried tomatoes in a steamy Pinot Grigio broth. Our only wish is for crusty bread to sop up every drop of delicious.
Use a fork to bust through the crisp panko crust of phenomenal vegan ‘cod cakes’ and release steaming, pillowy filling cleverly crafted from black beans, red quinoa, cornmeal and toasted nori. Tangy tartar sauce completes the familiar flavour profile the dish riffs off.
Fusion grill’s take on the fish taco evokes architectural lines of the Sydney Opera House’s shells and is a thing of beauty. Two pieces of maple marinated Steelhead trout are sandwiched in brittle, fried corn tortilla and accentuated by complex and robust roasted cumin sauce.
Meats here are transcendent. Grass fed beef may be the city’s best, the tender protein is accented with a multidimensional sauce so good it requires much willpower to refrain from licking the plate.
Do not skip dessert. Vanilla bean Mascarpone cheesecake brings rapture to the tongue. This marriage of rich, creaminess and cloud-like texture is the stuff cravings are made of.
Fusion grill is open Tue-Sat 11:30 am-2 pm and 5:30 pm to late.