Fish House - Monterey's
Has anyone been to the Fish House-<Monterey's? I hear the food is great but is it nice enough for a special dinner (mom's birthday - we are coming from San Francisco)? Other choice is Passionfish. Can anyone compare and contrast the two restaurants, including food, wine, service, ambience? Thanks.
If you are willing to travel outside of Monterey, there are two other Fish Houses run by the same family - the Salinas Valley Fish House in Oldtown Salinas, and the Carmel Valley Fish House in Carmel Valley. I haven't eaten at the Salinas Valley restaurant in a few years, although I hear it's a little uneven, and I don't know anything about the Carmel Valley version, perhaps someone else will chip in with details.
Salinas Valley Fish House
172 Main St, Salinas, CA 93901
One of the better restaurant experiences I've had. Besides good food, the energy and the vibe is infectious. A lot of fun eating at the bar where people share food, interact w strangers and are generally a lot more friendly than they would be if they met you on the highway! The fish is fresh and the sauces can be heavy. Scallops cooked perfect.
Monterey Fish House
2114 Del Monte Ave, Monterey, CA 93940
I've gone to the Monterey Fish House several time in the last 7 years. It's our favorite place in Monterey. The service seems slow and inefficient - but then again, the place is usually too packed to fit any more servers inside. The ambiance is pretty hokey and very CenCal. However, the seafood is fresh and prepared in several different styles: red oak grill, fried, blackend, etc. Don't expect much from the wine list - but they do have anchor on tap.
We go there for the grilled oysters or grilled baby octopus, whole fried fresh fish or their fish specials in general. The steaks are done very nicely on the red oak grill, too.
There's usually a wait at the door. My game plan is usually to put an order for oysters & beer once were seated, then order the rest after we hear the specials.
On our last visit to Monterey we went to Passion Fish because I had been curious for a long time. I thought I was going to love it but I wasn't that impressed. Everything was just ok to me (not really anything special). My other half didn't like it at all.
I ate at Monterey Fish House just over a year ago. The food was delicious, but the ambiance was poor.
Located in a remodeled stucco bungalow, its is tight. No waiting area except a u-shaped open bar at the back of the main dining room. Original living room is the best place to dine, near the fireplace. If you are totaly unlucky as our party of 8 was, you'll be put in the doorway between the two rooms, where the decibel levels approach 90 during the dinner hour. The kitchen (open doorway) and bus station are 2 steps behind that table. Absolutely horrendous noise levels. (Think: the little 'bomb' icon from the Pinkie)
Great oak-grilled artichokes, very good crab cake and salad. Others delighted in the salmon and other seafood entrees.
I'd say this is more casual than you'd want and too noisy or Mom to enjoy herself. Try it some time during the week.
I'd rather spend my birthday at Passionfish than just about anywhere, and probably will, but if you go on a weekend, it won't be any quieter than Fish House. Neither one is much for ambiance, though PF probably has a slight edge, if nothing else because you walk past part of their wine cellar on entry.
The wine list at PF is far superior, and markups are quite low. Prices at PF may be similar to retail, but the wines are *not* ones you will find at your neighborhood market!
I think the food is much better at PF too, though some of the dishes can be surprisingly spicy. However, tables are close together, as honkman says, and it can get noisy on weekends. I have had good luck with service at PF, whereas the one or two times I ate at Fish House (it has been a while) it was sloooowww, but that might be because I was with groups both time (had it been my choice, I would have gone to Passionfish, though one of the visits was probably before PF was PF....)
I'd say, if your mother loves good wine and seafood take her to PF. Otherwise, I'd consider a choice other than *either* FIsh House or Passionfish...
For a special occasion I would recommend Robert's White House in PG. I like Passionfish but it feels much more crowded (tables are much closer) than the White House and the service is also not as good. Foodwise they are quite different but both very good and it is more personal preference.
Passionfish would be a better choice in my opinion. I've been to both places and find the Fish House to be a bit crowded and not much for ambience.
Passionfish has a great menu and a really good wine list that is priced similar to what you would find at any market. They do not have huge mark-ups. The service has always been great and they are very accomodating.