The Place’s reconstruction continues, after new owners found the building required more work than expected.
“There wasn’t one right angle in the whole building, so construction has been very laborious and challenging,” said Jay McCarthy. The Buffalo School Board member owns the popular neighborhood restaurant at 229 Lexington Ave., along with Elizabeth Brinkworth.
“There wasn’t one thing we didn’t have to touch, between plumbing, electrical, walls, insulation, roof, everything,” McCarthy said. With new heating and air conditioning plants, that added up to a near-complete renovation.
Now the plan is to try for St. Patrick’s Day week. “That’s what we’re pushing for, with all our power,” said McCarthy. “The footnote to that is that we want to open right, not do it in haste. That’s most important.”
“It’s been quite a project to bring it back to where it should be, to make it functional for the next 20 or 30 years,” said McCarthy. “It’s so important to the neighborhood, and the rebirth of the city. It’s such an institution, with so many people connected to it.”
He’s reminded of that daily, he said. “When are we opening? I probably get that question, 30 times a day, everywhere we go.”
Latin opening: Pasion, the upscale Latin fusion restaurant in the former Cozumel and Black Swan space, opens Wednesday. The restaurant, at 153 Elmwood Ave., will start serving dinner at 4 p.m.
Owner Yeslin Greason and Chef Manuel Cruz are offering a slate of dishes and drinks that are Cuban-centric but draw from other Latin American cuisines as well. It’s a menu for people who miss eating in Miami. The 70-seat restaurant will also feature custom cocktails, with Josh Campbell leading the beverage program.
Appetizers include Cuban favorites like salted codfish fritters, ham croquettes and beef turnovers, but also Venezuelan arepas, corn cakes stuffed with shredded beef, and Peruvian potatoes in an aji amarillo chile cheese sauce. Seafood includes a whole fried fish, served with avocado salad, Peruvian-inspired ceviche, and Jonah crab claws.
There’s a Cuban sandwich, of course, but also one of pounded-out steak topped with garlic, tomato and matchsticked fried potatoes. Entrees include Cuban ground beef (picadillo) and shredded beef (ropa vieja) stews, grilled skirt steak with chimichurri, and a sort of Cuban shrimp etouffee.
Greason, wife of local Mexican restaurateur Sergio Mucino (Don Tequila, Agave, El Agave, La Divina taqueria and grocery), took over the space after Black Swan closed in September.
Williamsville kitchen: A newly installed kitchen will power a new Williamsville restaurant in the former BillyBar space.
Share Kitchen & Bar Room, 5590 Main St., is on track to open by the end of March, said owner Joel Schreck. It’s the first restaurant for Schreck, an industry veteran most recently bar manager at 800 Maple for seven years.
“We’re putting in a full kitchen – grills, fryers, ovens, all the things we need to put out a quality menu,” Schreck said. It’ll be an upscale casual place, about 70 seats including the bar. “I’m a village resident, and it was really a passion of mine to be able to do something there,” he said.
The food will be “not too far out there,” he said, with a New American menu geared around plates to share, small and large. That means stuffed peppers and scallops, salads and pastas, ahi tuna and steak, among other things, he said.
Heading the kitchen will be Sean Warzel, a former Siena chef, Schreck said.
Share isn’t just about creating an atmosphere for guests, but a creating close-knit group of people to serve them, he said. “I truly feel when you are working in a restaurant, and you feel that sense of family, it shows to the guests that come in.”
Clarence supper club: Samuel’s Grande Manor has a grand idea – to bring back the feel of the old-time supper club.
The Pezzino family, who owns the Clarence restaurant, are testing the idea out in an 800-seat venue called the Diamond Room. The name sparkles with retro glitz – and might bring back memories of Buffalo legend Lance Diamond, a definite plus. The Pezzinos presented their first show Feb. 13, an appearance by Mary Wilson of the Supremes.
“It’s going to be acts that would play in a Las Vegas showroom,” said Steve Reszka. “Motown, soft rock, standards, supper club music. It’s comedians, too. The facility can hold 800 seats. They’re just looking to bring in something different, give a different entertainment experience.”
The venue has a formal feel.
“You walk in, and it’s this huge white gorgeous building with a portico. Every chair is at a table,” Reszka. “When you buy your tickets you can order your dinner, but you don’t have to order dinner. There’s table service. They want to very much make it like a Las Vegas showroom.”
Tickets to the Wilson show were $28.50-$54.50. Dinners are extra, typically $30-$40.
Samuel’s Grande Manor is located at 8750 Main St. in Williamsville. For info, visit samuelsgrandemanor.com or call 634-8425. - Mary Kunz Goldman
Parkside pub: P. Moran's, a casual cafe inspired by England’s neighborhood pubs, has started serving the Parkside neighborhood.
The former Sweet_ness 7, 301 Parkside Ave., uses an unusual amount of organic ingredients in its food, going beyond vegetables to flour used in housemade baked goods. Locally raised meat is standard. That’s in keeping with owner Prish Moran’s emphasis on using sustainable products, right down to the takeout containers.
The menu includes vegetable-based pies and meat pies ($7-$9) amid a menu that tops out at $15 with a ploughman’s platter (sausage, pistachios, hardboiled eggs, apples, bread). One of the most popular offerings so far is a toasted cheese sandwich packing Irish cheddar and Branston pickle, Moran said.
Drinks include organic or sustainable wines and craft beer. Open 5 to 11 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Moran’s original Sweet_ness 7 location at 220 Grant St. remains open.
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