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Oct 5, 2007 10:17 AM

Passionfish in Pacific Grove

On a recent road trip, we decided to stop in Pacific Grove and have dinner at Passionfish since it has received positive reviews here.

One of the things others have noted about Passionfish is their interesting wine selection with low markup. It did not disappoint. The list was varied, and had many interesting selections in the $20 range. We had a bottle of a Basque wine -- Txomin Etxaniz Txakoli (how's that for a mouthful?), which proved very enjoyable from start to finish.

For food, we started with an order of fried calamari and an heirloom tomato salad. The calamari was disappointing -- overly salty (and I'm a salt fiend) but the heirloom tomato salad was our favorite dish of the evening. Nice ripe tomatoes in a flavorful vinaigrette and dotted with halved grapes which I enjoyed much more than I would have expected.

For entrees we had an asian-themed sablefish dish from the menu and a sturgeon dish they had as a special. Both were just ok. The sauce for the sablefish was uninspired and we found the wasabi slaw on the side a strange accompaniment. The fish itself had a less pleasant flavor and texture than we have had elsewhere, and it also was full of bones.

The sturgeon was not much better (although we've never had sturgeon before, and have no basis for comparison). It was served with a corn and bacon relish, which would have been better if the corn had had more "corn flavor" and the bacon were less overpowering.

Overall, the meal was a let down. Other than the excellent tomato salad, we did not truly enjoy any of the dishes. My overall impression was ok food for an ok price. I would have rather paid half again as much for a more memorable dining experience.

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  1. I am sorry you didn't enjoy it, particularly since it seems a little late in the year for a tomato salad to be the highlight.

    I was there last weekend, and was THRILLED to see the calamari on the menu as it hasn't been on the menu in a long time (when I've been there: they generally only have it when local Monterey bay squid is readily available), and it totally lived up to my memory of it: exquisitely fresh, tender, lightly floured, not at all salty, and served with a delicious cilantro chile dipping sauce....plus, it was rings and tentacles both! As I told the server as soon as I saw it was on the menu: yeah! I wonder if you hit an over-seasoned batch somehow?

    For my main I had a dish advertised as a small plate: spot prawns with linguini: but it was a generous portion with at least five nicely cooked prawns, delicious, plenty of food for a main (and priced almost like one at $16). Hubby had halibut with a moroccan salad. He loved the salad, thought the halibut was slightly overcooked (he prefers it rare and said he wished he had specified that before ordering.) And for dessert: pear bread pudding...yumm! We split a salad, which they served on two plates at no additional charge, and hubby had smoked trout soup, which was rich and also delicious.

    Total for soup, calamari, one salad split for two (which probably meant we got a bit more than a half each), one main, one pasta, dessert, a glass of dessert wine, and a bottle of unoaked Chardonnay (Keller Estate Sonoma; retails for about $26 at the winery, and IIRC pretty much the same price on their list) with tax and generous tip, was about $130. Way more than ok in my book, for that price. Indeed, when we got the check I said to hubby: 'as I think to myself everytime we get the bill here, Passionfish is a bargain.'

    701 Lighthouse Ave, Pacific Grove, CA 93950

    1 Reply
    1. re: susancinsf

      Regarding the tomatoes, we were there three weeks ago -- I just finally got around to posting the report today. Regarding the rest, maybe they were just having an off night.