Down-Home Fine Dining
Cool Water Fusion Restaurant
2010 Wyoming NE, Suite B • 332-COOL (2665)
Boldly colored walls and Ansel Adams
July 13 was the official opening of Cool Water Fusion Restaurant in Wyoming Mall Shopping Center. The location is not visible unless you’re driving through the center’s expansive parking lot, but I guarantee that once you find it, you’ll happily make a return trip. On a visit to Cool Water Fusion, I learn that it is the creation of Glenn Williams and Jason Upshaw, both formerly of the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center’s Pueblo Harvest Café and Bakery.
A native Santa Fean, Williams earned his chops in management; at 27, he was the youngest General Manager of the Year for Humperdink's restaurants in Texas. He’s also no slouch in the kitchen, as I learned by sampling his bread pudding—a no-fruit, straight-up bread and custard classic—topped with vanilla ice cream. Upshaw, former executive chef at Pueblo Harvest, met Williams when he joined its staff as the restaurant’s general manager. Their combined skills brought new excitement to the Pueblo Harvest menu with such signatures as bison short ribs.
Turkey osso buco with chimichurri
Williams and Upshaw use sustainable planning at Cool Water, from the tablecloths (no throwaway paper) to the New Mexico heritage beef and local produce. Shopping daily means waste is kept to a minimum and ingredients are fresh. Williams is also a stickler for quality control, making sure that even takeout orders look their best from restaurant to table. This careful design is apparent in the small dining area—boldly colored walls are lined with reproductions of Ansel Adams photographs. The contemporary flair is reflected in a TV screen that scrolls through the day’s specials. Comfortable booths line both sides of the room with a row of tables in between. A large fish tank set into the end wall is the coolest water in sight.
Upshaw learned his trade starting as a line cook and working his way to executive chef at numerous upscale restaurants around the country. He completed his studies at Le Cordon Bleu in Scottsdale, Ariz. His Navajo roots are reflected in the Cool Water menu with a traditional Indian taco, a dish popular with diners and proprietors alike. Upshaw’s love of the craft is expressed in his palette of “big flavors” that includes braises, sauces, salsas and garnishes from the world over. Don’t be surprised to find a roasted corn salsa sharing a plate with beurre blanc or on a boneless Idaho rainbow trout stuffed with crab and wrapped in bacon—an adventuresome combination that teases the taste buds. But be forewarned: While the names on the menu may be familiar, the chef plays fast and loose with his interpretation of some dishes—all to your advantage. For instance, osso buco is made with turkey and garnished with chimichurri. Vegetarians can indulge in a variety of salads, soups and pasta dishes, and the chef is happy to accommodate diners' dietary needs when possible. This is, after all, fusion. The menu is a work in progress, as new ingredients and new ideas emerge.
Glenn Williams and Jason Upshaw
When I ask the duo what they want most from this enterprise, Upshaw replies, “I want to make the best food!” Williams nods, and emphasizes their goal of making Cool Water “a neighborhood restaurant—a place where people can feel at home.” Asked about the restaurant’s somewhat cryptic name, Williams says, “It feels good” and leaves it at that.
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