Written by Richard Ahrens
Recognized as THE “gourmet” seafood restaurant, Passionfish is a uniquely popular, husband-wife operated dining experience, nestled in the quaint, coastal town of Pacific Grove, California.
With ample restaurant choices in nearby Monterey, locals seem to flock to and return to Passionfish, likely due to their transcendent approach to food preparation and of course, quality consistency. This award winning restaurant is a shining example of what happens when all the pieces of a smart, experienced, caring team comes together.
French trained, chef Ted Walter teamed with wife Cindy, a fisherman’s daughter (who helped launch Monterey County’s sustainable seafood movement) in 1997 to make this one of the most successful dining spots in the area. Ted was inducted into the California Restaurant Association Hall of fame in 2006.
This is the kind of restaurant that even outside chefs enjoy, as was the case during our visit. With the Pebble Beach Food and Wine event in full swing one town over, it was no surprise to see a gathering of chefs and winemakers pairing fine wines with dinner next to us.
With emphasis on seafood, the menu includes variations of scallop, shrimp, albacore tuna, rockfish, trout, bass, sturgeon, crab and oysters, in addition to lamb, short rib and duck.
We chose the duck confit, with honey reduction, smoked chile-potato cake and charred broccolini as one entree’, and rainbow trout, basil stuffed, with red wine braised vegetables for the other. I can only say each was prepared to perfection. The duck was tender, nicely glazed, full of flavor without much fat, and a nice sized portion. Trout was delicate and delectable with the ideal accent of herb and spice.
Our appetizer was striped bass crudo, with pomegranate-ginger granita, and seaweed ponzu (tangy soy). I don’t know how he did it, but it all came together in a one-of-a-kind flavor experience.
Passionfish takes pride in not only food philosophy but wine as well. They believe wine pairing is essential to fine dining, thus offer an incredible bottle selection, at unusually lower pricing than other restaurants. In addition, in-house wine buyer and sommelier, JANNAE LIZZA is always on hand to assist in the perfect wine selection with your meal.
With the highly praised maple banana bread pudding, and bourbon caramel sauce tempting our sweet-tooth craving, we decided to pass and add one more reason to return to Passionfish for a future dining treat.
The impressive and thorough web site provides a tour, philosophy, history and samples of what makes Passionfish a one-of-a-kind.