Sunday, November 13, 2016

#ThankYouMiami for Brunch - Our Passion at the Trio

It's Sunday funday so we're coming at ya with a new brunch find: Our Passion at the Trio in Fort Lauderdale. Believe it or not, I grew up in Fort Lauderdale. Yes, my parents' house was in Boca but my high school, my friends and, therefore, my social life revolved around Fort Lauderdale. My memories from that time consist of beach days at Sea Ranch Lakes, beach volleyball tournaments at the Yankee Clipper, awkward movie dates at the Galleria Mall, and eating Vito's pizza, Jacks burgers, Laspadas subs and, on special occasions, Chez Porky's everything. When Our Passion invited me to try their new brunch menu, I was psyched to visit my old stomping grounds and find new reasons to come back. After all, brunch wasn't a "thing" in high school so I have a brunch filled hole in my repertoire of Lauderdale food venues. Excitedly, I put on an EW's BINGE Harry Potter podcast and headed north on I-95.

Like many businesses along this corridor, Our Passion is nestled in a strip mall. The space it occupies is cozy, with only a dozen or so tables between the entrance and the bar in the back. During my visit, I was greeted by the very friendly Chef Paul Lobeck and his wife, both of whom won major points by offering me a glass of mimosa or sangria as I walked through the door. (I award them bonus points for offering unlimited quantities of both mimosas and sangria at only $15 per person because, if there's one thing I love more than brunch, it's brunch with unlimited drink offers.) After delivering my mimosa, they walked me through the nine eclectic dishes on their brunch menu, stopping only to recommend the "South of the Border" and the "That's All Folks" as their two favorites. I ordered and devoured both.

What struck me most about Our Passion are its strong family ties. Chef Paul was inspired to cook by his grandfather, a passion that he passed on to his son Joseph. At only 11 years old, Joseph loves to spend time with his dad in the kitchen helping out with his catering orders—Chef Paul also owns and operates a successful catering business—and at his restaurant. Young Joseph even invented Our Passion's most popular dessert: JoJo's Smile (two peach cobbler empanadas à la mode). I had the chance to meet Joseph when I stopped by and asked him if he was nervous about cooking for 200+ people at an upcoming event with his dad. Not surprisingly, he was completely unfazed.

Chef Paul's wife and daughter are also integral to Our Passion, handling the front of house with a smile while the men are busy in the kitchen. It was only because the whole Lobeck clan was on board that Chef Paul pursued his lifelong dream of running his own restaurant and opened Our Passion. It is the family's unity, as well as their passion for food and friendly service that make this spot worth visiting. Plus, Chef Paul really let his creativity shine through in the brunch menu. (For example, he made the quesadilla breakfast appropriate in the "South of the Border" by stuffing it with bacon and topping it with an egg, chipotle crema, and pico de gallo.) Their family-owned restaurant brings a rare warmth and personal flare that has been lacking on Commercial Boulevard since my high school days.

We were invited to try the brunch menu by Our Passion at the Trio. However, all opinions expressed regarding our experience are our own.

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