Yum: Fusca, Warwick
I’d heard lots of great things about the inventive world cuisine-inspired menu at Warwick’s first vegetarian/vegan restaurant, Fusca, and was curious as to whether it would live up to the hype. So, did it? Three of my girl pals and I went to try it out last Thursday evening.
Fusca’s not on the high street; and doesn’t have a frontage as such. It’s in the basement of a mews house. You approach it through an alley off Smith Street or may find it easier to park in Priory Road car park as you can see the restaurant signage from there. You enter walking down a set of steps into the cellar past the Fusca sign and some neat abstract art.
With its candle-lit subterranean setting, stunning vaulted ceiling, ‘the wall of randomness’ – a montage of magazine cut-outs – and tailor’s sewing room, it’s atmospheric and quirky. “I used to work in a factory and was really happy because I could day dream all day,” is a quote from Ian Curtis of Joy Division etched on the arched brick wall in chalk, opposite our table. And here’s a few more interesting architectural features:
Above our heads is a collection of quirky antique doorknobs, many donated by customers in return for a hot drink. “The quirkier the knob, the better” laughed our very congenial, excellent waiter Paul, who grew up with chef Andrew Brookes – ‘Brooksie’.
Brooksie started off working in restaurants in Birmingham aged 16, then moved to London where he became a classically trained chef. He created Fresh Rootz street food truck – winner of the BBC Good Food Show’s award for best Midland Street Food in 2013 and the best snack of the British Street Food awards in 2014. He appeared on Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch, was featured in the Telegraph Food magazine and the Food Truckin’ book – best food truck recipes from around the world. Fusca first came into being through a chance meeting with Ryton Organic Gardens – a match made in heaven – and Brooksie went onto opening this new venture in May last year. The name originates from an area in Colombia where he lived and worked for a while.
I haven’t touched meat since I was 20, so have tried a fair few vegetarian restaurants over the years. When I lived in London in my early 20s discovered this awesome underground vegan/vegetarian squat cafe in Vauxhall where different chefs from all over the world would cook each night. Initially it was set up back in the ’80s to serve the local community – many of whom were squatting nearby. Amazingly it’s still there and is now the co-operatively run Bonnington Cafe, and the winner of numerous Time Out foodie awards.
Fusca has a similar chilled vibe. The food looks and tastes amazing – there’s definitely not a limp lettuce or tasteless tofu in sight! Brooksie is a highly creative chef and single-handedly uses his knowledge of world food and spices combined with locally sourced fresh veg to create beautifully presented, fragrant dishes. Real body and soul nourishing food. There are 3 three separate menus: Lunch, Evening and Sunday lunch, plus an enticing sounding World Fusion 7 Course Taster Menu. It was first introduced on Valentine’s Day and brought back due to popular demand on Tues March 21, with courses including Sicilian lime and Pomegranate granita, Ecuadorian chocolate truffles and a coconut Caribbean cake.
Just so you can appreciate the beautifully ornate dishes, many decorated with fresh flowers and herbs, I’ll give you a visual smorgasbord of the type of thing you can expect. Between us we had:
This was accompanied by a bottle of hangover-free uplifting dry Sauvignon Blanc Vintage Roots organic wine. And for dessert:
The coffee served at Fusca is Monsoon Estates Coffee, made by an artisan micro-coffee roastery near Stratford-upon-Avon, which was awarded 3 Gold Stars in the 2016 Great Taste Award for their Expresso blend.
Fusca is the only restaurant I’ve come across that has its own fashion designer. Birmingham-based Jojo Remeny – who once made a cardy for Tori Amos and designed a dress made entirely from Cadbury’s chocolate wrappers – rents a space in the restaurant every Thursday and Friday. He offers a Coffee and Stitch service – he’ll alter your clothes while you wait and enjoy a cup of Monsoon Estates coffee. On April 24 Jojo is starting up a dress-making course.
A meat-free menu may be off-putting to carnivores who can’t live without a steak, chicken fillet or burger but I think even they’d be totally won over by Fusca. My friend Anna summed it up when she said: “If I could eat this every night I would definitely convert to vegetarianism.” Do you believe the hype? Most definitely. Go and see what all the fuss-ca’s about…
THE MUDDY VERDICT:
Good for: Discerning veggies, of course, but also foodies in general who are bored of the gastropub thing and want to eat beautifully presented veg-cuisine in a quirky setting with a chilled ambience – and take that dress you need altering with you!
Not for: Some may be put off by the lack of natural light. Personally I like basesment bar/restaurants, although the steps may be a little tricky for pushchairs, but, Fusca does also have an outside patio area for al-fresco dining in the sunshine.
££: Mid-range. Starters from £5.75, mains £11.95-£13.50, sides £3.25 and desserts £5.95-£6.50. The World Fusion 7 Course Taster Menu, including a medium glass of organic wine is £45.
5-6 The Knibbs, Smith Street, Warwick, CV34 4UW, fusca.co.uk Tel: 01926 491876