If, over the past week or so, you’ve been on High St. around Dick’s Den in the evening, or on Broad near the Columbus Museum of Art during the day, you’ve probably seen a relatively non-descript delivery truck parked along the side of the road. Perhaps the more perceptive among you even recognized its shape as that of a converted Wonder Bread delivery van.
Actually, to call it ‘converted’, is something of an understatement. While Fusion Cafe’s rolling kitchen is recognizable by its white paint job with blue accents on the outside, it’s most notable for being green through-and-through. A partial list of their eco-bonafides include:
•They have a 45 watt solar panel array on the roof feeding 4 deep cycle RV batteries, which in turn provide for the majority of their electric needs.
•They use recycled packaging for their to-go orders, and word is that they’ll even keep your utensils for you, wash ’em up, and have them ready for you on your next visit.
•They’re proud to source many of their raw ingredients locally, sometimes from their own back yard.
•They’re fastidious about the eco-friendliness of their cleaning products.
Fusion Cafe is the brainchild of the personable Chef ‘JP’ Potter, and his charming wife, Marie. Potter is a graduate of the ECDI’s business training program, and participated in it alongside the folks who run the ‘3 Babes and a Baker’ cupcake truck as well as Michael Hemrick, the man behind ‘Zapico Foods’ (a local producer of pasta sauces).
Fusion Cafe’s menu rotates daily and is ambitiously wide-ranging, though on any given day there are 2-4 menu items being prepared and served. As being a good neighbor is particularly important for mobile vendors, beverages (smoothies seem to feature prominently among them) are only offered when the truck is not parked near other establishments that carry them.
On our visit, they were serving jerk chicken legs with rice & peas and ‘Fusion’ slaw, and veggie kabobs with the ‘Fusion’ slaw and tortilla chips. We (of course) ordered both.
Among our group of 5, the jerk chicken legs were unanimously well received. There has been some discussion about the authenticity of the jerk recipe – was it ‘toned down’ for the American palate? – and I will cop to having very little experience to fall back on in evaluating the authenticity of Jamaican/’island’ food. And, really, in this case, I’ll admit to having little interest in the discussion in the first place. Let’s put it this way – if given a choice between your average properly grilled chicken leg, a typical fried chicken leg, or this, I’d easily pick the jerk chicken 9 times out of 10 (yes, there are the rare occasions when only crispy fried chicken will do).
The rice & peas were a nice accompaniment, and the ‘Fusion’ slaw was nothing short of a sesame oil-powered flavor bomb. This Asian-inspired approach undoubtedly sounds a bit incongruous, but actually worked quite well. Fusion indeed!
The veggie kebabs were also enjoyed. This wide variety of fresh vegetables on the skewer were marinaded with a simple, subtly sweet and savory blend that never overwhelmed. An object lesson in leaving well enough alone, these kebabs showcased the bright flavors of the vegetables and were accompanied by the aforementioned cabbage slaw and some (relatively forgettable) tortilla chips. All in all, a nice snack.
There is much left to try at Fusion Cafe (examples from the rotation include jerk pulled pork sandwiches, fish tacos, and bison sliders), and our first tastes gave us more than ample motivation to do so. We liked the concept, had a great time talking with the owners, and certainly enjoyed the food.
Perhaps most of all, we love thinking about this converted, solar-powered, onetime Wonder Bread truck as a metaphor for everything that’s right about the direction of Columbus’s food scene.