Even though the restaurant only opened a few days ago, four of us decided to head to Pasión (the old Cozumel) for dinner. We were interested to see what design changes had been made since it was The Black Swan, whose owners had put so much work into the place. Of course there were no longer any remaining signs of Cozumel, so we weren’t expecting to find anything unearthed. We did find that a few of The Black Swan features still remained, including the floor (which I always liked), and the bathrooms (a steampunk aesthetic that I also liked). Other than that, the place had been brightened up significantly.
A couple of the new changes that caught my eye included the backbar lighting and the bar itself. The backbar features underlit shelves that illuminate the bottles nicely. A number of ethnic prayer candles intermix with the liquor bottles, giving off some Latin flair. I especially like the oversized bar. Not that it’s especially long, it’s super wide. The wideness lends itself perfectly to the type of drink and cuisine that is being served up.
The four of us ordered a medley of food, much of which was very sharable. We also ordered a ‘crystal’ punch bowl with four matching cups. The bowl was filled with Baya Playa Punch – El Dorado3, rhum agricole, strawberries & blackberries, rhubarb bitters, lime juice, thyme, and sparkling wine. Not being overly familiar with the punch bowl phenomenon, I immediately found myself being comforted with the self-serve style of this new (to Buffalo) drink sensation. In fact, there are six different dreamy punch bowls on the menu ($45 – serves 4 to 6), as well as large pitchers of blanco and rojo sangria ($25 a pitcher). This wildly different way to enjoy our time at the bar was a big hit, and will bring us back to the watering hole soon enough (especially when the weather warms up and the patio opens up).
Aside from the punch bowls and pitchers, Pasión also specializes in Latin, island and rum drinks that are all as delicious as they are beautiful. The preparation that goes into each drink is spectacular, and watching Josh Campbell and his cohort Joe assemble the drinks was a real pleasure. Each concoction was masterfully prepared, and equally appreciated by those who were drinking them on either side of us.
As for the food, there were some hits and misses, but seeing that they are just heading out of the gate, I’m going to wait to see how everything pans out in the end. What I can say is that you won’t be sorry if you try the El Cubano or the Elena Ruth. The Elena Ruth is prepared like a Cubano but with sliced turkey, cream cheese, strawberry jam on a Cuban roll. We were all quite smitten with the Caldo Gallego – a Galician soup made with cannellini beans, hamhocks, collard greens, pork belly and Spanish chorizo. The big bowl of soup was so good in fact, that I only got one spoonful. My dining crew polished it off before the dish ever returned back to me. The yucca fries were also a huge hit. They were prepared perfectly and served salted. Not only were they tasty, once again they were very different in look and feel… not your average fry, that’s for sure.
It appears as if Pasión is already somewhat of a hit. It was easy to tell that there were a lot of people there who were quite happy that this type of cuisine had transcended the West Side, into a snappy little establishment on Elmwood Avenue (see back story here). I have a feeling that the owners of Pasión will have their hands full once the warm weather hits. I can only imagine listening to some progressive and/or traditional latin music fusion on the patio, with a pitcher of sangria in front of me.