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The Pass (Rosemont, NJ): Prix-fixe price and format change

It was bound to happen, but the prix-fixe at The Pass has had a slight price increase: it is now $49. The great news is that, for the price, you also get a fourth course, called an "apertivo" and there is NO LONGER a supplement for the cheese course.

We've been frequent diners at The Pass and count it as one of our two or three favorite Bucks/Hunterdon spots. Haven't been there since that format change, but would safely say it's still a "strong buy" at this price.

Our next visit won't be until early June, so if any other hounds have been there recently, would like to know what the "apertivo" is.

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  1. Hmmm.....

    The "slight price increase" works out to be a little over 27%. As for the "apertivo", I will be really annoyed if it turns out to be the amuse-bouche that you used to get (compliments of the chef).

    Looking at the current menu, I also notice that there has been a significant reduction in the number of choices. For each course, the number of choices is about half what it was only three months ago.

    Going to The Pass used to be a no brainer. Now, I'm not so sure. The quality will surely be maintained but the value and selection are no longer there.

    1 Reply
    1. re: ambrose

      Hey, Ambrose. You've always been level-headed about restaurants. Let's give this a chance. We know that the previous prix-fixe price was a great value by any standard. And, it was in place from opening day until recently, a span of more than a year. Let's not assume the apertivo is the bowl of chips you sometimes got. Finally, let's just order the cheese plate and be glad there's no longer a supplement. On top of all that, it's BYO. I say at $125 per couple, including tip, it's still a great value.

    2. thanks for the update.

      I imagine with the never ending escalation of food and operating costs, a price increase was inevitable.

      Pairing down the selections to 2 per course is probably the easiest way for Matt and Paul to purchase for, prep and manage busier nights.

      We'll continue to dine here as frequently. The $49 for the quality and experience (new menu, weekly) is still a relative bargain for this area.

      1. $35.00 was worth the 45 minute drive...$49.00, not so much. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted.

        3 Replies
        1. re: coldbeer

          $35? It was $42.50 since opening, I believe.

          1. re: famdoc

            First time we went it was $35.00. I told them that they were charging too little. The next time we went it was $38.50. The trend is not my friend. The food is fantastic, no doubt, but we live pretty far away and at $49.50 it's a covered bridge too far.

            1. re: coldbeer

              You are correct: it was $42.50 the last six time we were there. To me, it is certainly worth the extra seven bucks.

        2. From $38.50 to $49, and a reduction in choices? Look at any of the previous menus on the website and you will see that even menu #52 which was last week, had a choice of 5 apps/3 Entrees/3 Dessert. I will most definitely give it a chance, but it will not be the "no-brainer" it once was.

          1. We ate there last week when it was still $38.50 (menu 52) and generally enjoyed it. We found the size and composition of the portions to be a bit puzzling, but the food delicious.

            My lamb shoulder papardelle was of ample size (and was the best single item we tasted) but my partner's stuffed rabbit tenderloin was extremely tiny. Similar issue with the mains: skipjack and sides well proportioned, but braised octopus really lacking in octopus (while the other elements, like a slab of tasty pork belly, were generous). Octopus isn't that expensive, is it?

            And I had the cheese course with the $3 supplement and it left me wishing I had stuck to the sweets. Here I was given the tiniest slice of a Bobolink cheese: nice stuff, but not very satisfying. My partner's crepe was fine. Honestly, on a visit to Wine Library a few days later I had more cheese given to me as a sample!

            So I think it might be approaching questionable value at $49; it will be interesting to see what people think.

            Anyone have opinions on the Sergeantsville Inn, just down the road? I prefer BYO, since I have a lot of good wine, but may want to give it a try.

            2 Replies
            1. re: jmoryl

              @jmoryl: We've had discussions here about people's opinions on the best restaurants in the Bucks/Hunterdon area. The Pass has moved to near the top of my list.
              If you enjoy good wine and want a fantastic meal, I recommend Maize in Perkasie. It's a bit of a trip from Hunterdon, but if you live in Bucks, worth the travel.

              1. re: famdoc

                In part, it was those discussions in the other threads which made us want to try The Pass. I live in NE NJ and we were having a day out in that area; normally I'm down that way to cycle and don't want to go anywhere nice in my sweaty lycra!

                Thanks for mentioning Maize, and I'll keep it in mind if I'm out that way.

            2. latest menu format: 4 courses for $49 or their new 6 course "discovery menu" for $74.

              http://www.atthepass.com/menu.html

              We haven't been since the change. Any recent reports on the additional course(s)?

              1. There's no doubt about it: The Pass is fast becoming a destination restaurant. Look for features in national travel and food magazines, look for four-week waits for a table on weekends, look for a Pass B&B. It's nice to be able to say "I knew you when".

                Looking forward to trying both the new menu ( this weekend) and the chef's menu ( perhaps later this summer).

                1. First visit since "new" menu (ie, $49 prix-fixe, four-course dinner). Apertivo was a thimble-cup of chilled "soup" featuring a piece of salmon at the bottom and a "salad" featuring four medium-sized marinated smelts. This was somewhat more than an amuse and somewhat less than a course, as the smelts were delivered to the table for sharing, while each diner received a "soup".

                  The only other change is that the cheese plate is now considered a dessert option, without a supplement.

                  Comment: this week's menu had only two (2) first course choices and two (2) main course choices. We thought this was a bit limiting. Quantity and quality remain unchanged and impeccable, by all standards.

                  As I've commented in prior postings, the service, from the elegant hostess, to the waitpersons and the busboy, was top-notch. I am particularly pleased that we were not rushed from our table at the conclusion of our meal. In fact, despite it being a Saturday evening, we were afforded plenty of time to wrap up our conversation (important note: we did not notice anyone waiting to be seated, so we were not preventing others from starting their evening).

                  One final note: upon being seated, a "wine list" was given to us, featuring a selection of four wines by noted California winemaker Sean Thackeray, priced from $40 to $70 a bottle. Not sure where The Pass is going with this: no wine license was seen, the majority of guests still BYO. Losing the BYO option will be a major discouragement for us, as we bring some of our best wines to enjoy with Matt's incredible meals. Time will tell.

                  Is The Pass still a deal at $49? An unqualified yes for two reasons: quality is top-notch in every way, and, by comparison with other preferred Bucks and Hunterdon restaurants, The Pass is still priced competitively at $49.