Black Swan Lounge.
Sadly, the Black Swan has Closed since this was written.
153 Elmwood Avenue Buffalo | (716) 248-2092
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Monday-Thursday: 5:00 pm -12:00 am; Kitchen until 10:00 pm
Friday & Saturday: 5:00 pm-2:00 am; Kitchen until 11:00 pm
Black Swan Lounge opened up in March after several months of a total gut and redo of the once Cozumel Grill. Newlywed owners Monique Fortunato-Lester and Bryan Lester (former co-owner of Vera Pizzeria), citing influences from New York City to Paris, devised a modern/futuristic concept for Black Swan with references to science fiction.
Chef Maurice Tossah came over from Trattoria Aroma North French where he served as Sous Chef. A large patio area awaits finishing at the front of the building that is scheduled to open towards the end of May. They are now also serving Sunday brunch 11-3.
If you’re looking to add a little je ne sais quoi to the humdrum night out then Black Swan Lounge might be just your dance. The stylish decor blends nicely with the soft, soulful background music to add a sensual element to the dining experience. Chef Tossah brings plenty of imagination to a provocative menu that makes this a worth a stop.
The menu is an interesting array of dishes made up of a few salads, a cheese plate, about a dozen small plates and a few large. Ingredients are sourced from six local farms when available. For large plates they offered one of each vegetarian, seafood, poultry and meat. I thought the Grilled Aged Rib Eye – smoked mushrooms, bone marrow butter (serves 2) $52 was particularly enticing, but my companion didn’t agree. I was tempted to take on the solo challenge but I chickened out (pun intended).
Our waiter explained that as you go down the menu the items get more robust. The food comes out when it’s ready. I like the adventure in that scheme, but in practice I usually feel rushed. If you would like a more leisurely pace you might want to stagger your ordering.
The beer list has some interesting options. I counted 16, some of which were not in stock, all by the bottle, nothing on tap. I tried the Ithaca Flower IPA, $6.
The wine includes 5 red and white by the glass or bottle and another ~15 by the bottle only. They also have a menu of classic cocktails and original cocktail. We sampled two glasses of the Pinot Noir Pinot Project ($10) which was fair.
We arrived at 7 on a quiet Tuesday night and were seated immediately. The bar area is front and center when you enter with a few tables to your left that are part of the bar area, and a smallish dining area to your right. The dining area is made up mostly of booths and banquettes with white leather seating, dark gray velvety backs, dark floors and a kind of iron gate motif. The tables are all small round or oval that are a nice match with the other-shaped plates and bowls.
The place was fairly quiet with some patrons enjoying the bar and a few tables occupied in the dining area. After explaining the menu and the specials our server brought us a bowl of complimentary butternut squash chips drizzled with truffled honey. Holy Mother of Dragons these are good (that’s a reference to one of their original Game of Thrones cocktails). Leave the potato chips behind. It’s worth the stop just to get a bowl of these. I wonder if they pass them out at the bar.
We ordered mostly from the small plate area:
Cauliflower Bisque– with croutons, radish and basil oil $6
This is a nice presentation with the soup poured into a bowl with croutons etc. The soup was thick and tasted a little too much like cauliflower… I know.
Potato Bravas – fried cubed potato on a spicy tomato sauce with chive oil – $8
Not an overly complicated version of the Spanish tapas, but the spicy tomato sauce really adds to a dish that I just couldn’t seem to stop eating.
Ancient Grains “Risotto”– Yogurt Dressing, Slow Poached Egg $11
Risotto in preparation style, this is hearty grains (wheat berries, farro?) instead of short grain rice. This has a pleasing earthy, nuttiness that worked well with the poached egg.
Farro Croquette – Confit Rabbit, Tomme, Soubise, Aged Balsamic $5 per
Tomme is a type of cheese similar to a brie. Soubise is an onion based sauce. This has a great deep flavor with nice pieces of rabbit.
Grilled Octopus – Popcorn Grits, Fennel Salad, Pomme Reduction, Smoke Butter – $12
There is a lot going on in this dish. The pomme (apple) pairs nicely with the fennel and the meaty, almost steak like texture of the grilled octopus. Popcorn grits are actually made from ground popcorn as opposed to corn. It’s a fun application and if you’re a popcorn lover probably a big hit.
Banh Mi Sandwich – braised short ribs, pickled vegetables, lemon grass aioli, cilantro – $15.
I enjoyed this sandwich. Braised short ribs are almost always a winner, but it was a bit light on the pickled veggies and the cilantro. In truth I didn’t notice lemon grass aioli.
What else looked good:
Black Mission Figs – Lardo, Micro Basil, Blu Di Buffalo, Pecan Gastrique, $9
Tuna Tartare – Avocado Puree, Pickled Vegetables, Red Salt, Black Pepper Tuile, $15
Rabbit & Waffle – Crispy Leg, Buckwheat Waffle, Mascarpone, Maple Syrup, $15
Braised Pork Belly “BLT” – Tomato Jam, Chervil, Toasted Country Bread, $12
Ginger Creme Brûlée with Ginger Chip, $7
Brioche Donut Mascarpone Ice Cream, $8
Parking: Plenty of off-street parking in the front.
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