Several months ago I investigated the newly opened Fusion Burgers of Highland Park, whose menu at the time was a pretty ramshackle recreation of Umami’s (though the burgers themselves were quite good), and I harshed on them for it. I have since noticed slow and steady improvement to the exterior of the restaurant (the décor was my other firm critique upon my first visit), and it seemed about time to see what improvements have been made, if any, since I have always maintained that it would be nice to see these guys succeed. If slow and steady wins the race, Fusion just might pull it off.
Aesthetically, the improvements have not been major but are both felt and functional. A tented seating section of about 4 tables has been added outside, and the inside has received a fresh coat of paint and some nearly hip typography decals on the windows of food words. Otherwise, the interior still has the vibe of a check-cashing place, but baby steps are better than no steps.
Ordering something that was an obviously original creation was important this time, and I don’t know if I just got lucky, but I had one of the best turkey burgers of my entire life. According to the menu, the Provincial Turkey Burger is topped with: “olive tapenade, pesto sauce and goat cheese.” What it actually had on it: tapenade, creamy pesto, oven dried tomato, spring mix, and a deep fried goat cheese fritter. Why they would describe it so modestly is beyond me, but it was delicious in any case. The acid of the tomato put the brakes on all the salty stuff (olives, pesto) and the goat cheese is a lot but if you like chevre you’ll like it even more as a gooey centered crispy fried slab. The patty was juicy too, which is an art form in and of itself with turkey. I would recommend The Provincial above probably any other turkey burger.
So hats off to the boys at Fusion for hanging in there and working hard. My most critical comment this time is that they should stop under selling themselves. I also tried the house burger, which among other things is topped with (according to the menu) “yellow cheese.” I asked our waitress to please elaborate, since I found that description to be sub-par, at which point she sheepishly explained that they MAKE BEER CHEDDAR FROM SCRATCH, and it’s so soft they have to freeze it to slice the shit. They put the frozen slice on your piping hot burger and it instantly turns into the most melty goodness of all time. I’m a sucker for a process people, you have to tell me these things. Tell me that my goat cheese puck is perfectly golden fried. Tell me your pesto is the result of you magically force-fitting the flavor of the entire Genoa region of Italy into an aioli, and tell me how much more impressive your yellow cheese is than “yellow.” I’m still rooting for you, and you’re still making ever-improving food. Let’s both keep it up. Deal? Deal.