Dining Detectives: Pasion- Modern Latin Cuisine -San Francisco
It is always fun dining out on warm San Francisco nights, especially in October. Everyone was so happy that the Giants were in the Playoffs and then won the World Series! the 49ers were winning and a few even remembered that this night was the 23rd. Anniversary of The Loma Prieta Earthquake. We were in the mood for Latin Cuisine and Pisco Cocktails so we decided to head to Irving Street in the Inner Sunset to dine at San Francisco native and Restaurateur/Executive Chef Jose Calvo-Perez’s restaurant Pasion.
The stylish and inviting restaurant has two sides with a bar on one and dining room on the other. The Décor which includes Venetian Plaster walls, crystal chandeliers, a fabulous Michael Brennen Mural and an exhibition kitchen is lovely. There are also large front windows which allow you to see the active street which is always fun.
We sat in the dining room and were pleasantly surprised to be greeted with Jello Vodka Shots by Guest Chef Michael Reese who told us that he also works at their Fresca Restaurantswww.FrescaSF.com in San Francisco and has his own line of Cajun products www.shutmymouth.com. This was the perfect way to start our evening!
We are always intrigued by and love to begin with Specialty Cocktails and here the Signature Cocktails are made with Pisco. We loved both the Pisco Sour Tradicional 1632 made with Pisco Quebranta, sugar, lime, egg whites and bitters and the El Chilcano made with Pisco Totontel, lime juice, ginger beer and bitters.
Our first course was the fresh and flavorful Ceviche Campechano which was made with local halibut, tuna, salmon, white truffles, leche de Tigre, red onion, cilantro and pickled jalapeno. It was an excellent starter and definitely one of the best Ceviche’s we have had! The appetizers that we shared were both delicious as well. The Conchitas which are Seared Diver Scallops with sweet plantain tostone, cilantro mojo, and black quinoa sofrito had complex flavors that worked perfectly together with beautiful presentation. We also loved the Albondigas Lamb Meatballs with black truffle sherry cream, manchego cheese, green peas and fresno chilies.
The entrees were quite healthy portions. The Atun “Encendido” Achiote which was Grilled Ahi Tuna with coconut risotto, sautéed spinach, pineapple chimichurri and aji Amarillo beurre blanc had a lovely sweetness, perfect texture and was fabulous. The paring of the flavors with the Ahi was perfect. The Chuleton Grilled Kurobuta Pork Chop with sweet potato puree, roasted corn salsa, escarole with bacon and apricots and cranberry compote had herbaceous flavors and was extremely tender and juicy. Their marinade is top secret and we can see why, this pork chop is really exceptional!
The Wine List is International and has a Latin Flair. We enjoyed the 2011 Broadbent Trajadura Loureiro Vinho Verde from Portugal with our appetizers and the 2006 Vina Alberdi Tempranillo La Rioja Alta from Spain with our entrees.
Illy Espressos and their unique and delicious Lucuma Panna Cotta dessert was the perfect finish to our excellent dinner at Pasion. We enjoyed the Modern Latin Cuisine made with locally sourced and traditional ingredients using their creative modern techniques. The Specialty Pisco Cocktails were terrific, the service was professional and knowledgeable and the atmosphere was fun. We look forward to returning soon for Lunch, Dinner or their Weekend Brunch which offers $12 bottomless Mimosas.
By Carol & Joe Davis
737 Irving Street (Between 8th & 9th)
San Francisco, CA 94122