After about 4 postponed scheduled openings, the much anticipated new ceviche restaurant, Pasion! by the owners of Azuca (Chef Rene Fernandez & Manager Pierre Kranzle of Mexico City's La Mansion Restaurant Group) has finally come. We gave them a few days to be open & iron out the kinks. The experienced restauranteurs were personally in control as evidenced by Mr Kranzle's scurrying around the floor during the dinner hour. Chef Fernandez also poked his nose out of the kitchen on occasion.
I arrived early while the place was virtually empty ... and I was immediately told to wait at the bar "while we see if your table is ready" ... the biggest table at the back of the place with the first reservation of the evening. Of course it was empty! But the hostesses are obviously trained to push the alcohol from the time you enter! I had a group of 15 individuals and requested separate checks up front ... to make it easier to split the tab. They said they could only do 5 tabs maximum at a table and we agreed that would be better than trying to resolve the bill for 15 people on a single tab.
The ambiance is modern, clean, refreshing and the Happy Hour drinks were refreshing. However, we learned later that the waiter had 'up-sold' one individual's drink to the ONLY drink not on the Happy Hour specials without telling the patron.
Our waitress (and the waiter helping her part-time at our table) were inexperienced, so we were patient and understanding. We got there before the rush, but the rush did descend upon them AFTER we were settled and had ordered.
It was not surprising that the service was spotty ... dishes did not come to our table at the same time but we excused for the lack of experience in both the waitress & the kitchen help. Several dishes were sent back - one due to peanuts on the entree that had no peanuts mentioned on the menu (to a patron allergic to peanuts) ... and without cheese (which WAS described on the menu). It quickly became apparent that the kitchen staff hadn't a clue what different dishes were supposed to look like or what garnishes were supposed to be on them.
The Palm Hearts & Camarones salad for $7.50 SOUNDS like the feature of the salad would be palm hearts & shrimp, right? Wrong! Count 'em: 2 hearts of palm diced and 6 tiny pieces of shrimp buried in a bed of lettuce. Dunno about you ... but I don't think I can eat $3.25 of lettuce in a whole day ($7.50 restaurant cost)!
Identical dishes ordered came to the table not even remotely resembling each other: The Pineapple with Mango Borracho Cake ("Caramelized mango cake, soaked in rum syrup, served with mango sorbet, dehydrated mango and rum flambeed mango chunks") came to the table without mangoes to 1 patron ... without sorbet to another. "Oh, you wanted sorbet with that?" was the response of the waiter. Reading the menu description, wouldn't you think it came with BOTH mangoes & mango sorbet?
One patron ordered iced tea, and re-ordered at least 2 times ... and it never came. She got the tea on her bill anyway!
The flavor of the food that was delivered was fine. The people who accidentally got what they ordered were satisfied.
When the tab finally came (remember, they were gonna split it into 5 for easier resolution? ... well, that 3 times affirmed promise was ignored). When the tab came they said that they could not do separate checks.
One person in particular had problems with her bill. They had put some stuff on her tab that was not hers. She was a bit upset. It took forever to get the bill straightened out. The Manager, Pierre Kranzle, could have made things right, but instead of saying they had made a mistake and perhaps giving her a free drink or something off coupon for a future visit, he made excuses. Not the brightest business man I've ever seen. The kindest most patient person at the table referred to him as "arrogant."
Much of this was due to their recent opening and not having all the kinks out. However, it did not excuse the very experienced restauranteur Mr Kranzle from being more accomodating. Although in the service industries, "The CUSTOMER is always right!" is the mantra, it appears that in La Mansion Restaurant Group, "Screw the suckers!" is the rule.
It is the consensus of our group of 15 that none of us will be returning to Pasion! ... and many of us will no longer be dropping any money at Azuca either. It is NOT because of the quality of the food that was correctly produced over & above the kitchen errors ... it now primarily is due to the condescending and argumentative "resolution" of the many problems by the general manager Pierre Kranzle. He added insult to injury.
I've been told Pasion! has "rave reviews." I must assume that there has been a misunderstanding ... those must have been "ravings."
We had another event for 20 planned for Pasion! and it has been cancelled.