PassionFish - Pacific Grove, CA

Dinner - Saturday, November 13, 2010

As the name suggests, Chef Ted Walter is passionate about the sustainable seafood movement. This ethos is well reflected by his seasonal, organic menu. We dined here the night before running the Big Sur half-marathon, and this is reflected by our menu choices - only two seafood courses ordered, not for fear of upset stomachs, but because we were craving heavy food.

Service was efficient and genial, and our server happily kept the excellent bread basket filled with warm baguettes after hearing about our upcoming race.

Salad of Fall vegetables
Chanterelles, cornbread croutons, ricotta salata
Nueske ham arancini
Pole-caught squid, spicy cilantro-citrus sauce
Mango, red onions, peppers
The arancini were outstanding - crispy exterior with a supremely delicate interior. The saltiness of the ham perfectly balanced the creamy rice.

Duck confit, broccolini, smoked chili-potato gratin
Lightly smoked rainbow trout with basil aioli
Olives, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, haricot verts braised in red wine
This was one of the most perfectly-cooked pieces of fish I have ever had the pleasure of eating. The flesh yielded easily to the pressure of my knife and the ultra-smooth texture defied all expectations. The delicate smokiness made the fillet of trout a pleasure to eat all by itself - in fact, the basil aioli was unnecessarily heavy and its flavours dominated the fish when eaten together.

Dessert was a meyer lemon panna cotta with orange supremes and a vanilla citrus sauce (no picture). Again, another solid dish, although I found the slices of orange rather superfluous.

We didn't come to PassionFish expecting highly creative preparations. We knew what to expect - well-executed dishes at very reasonable prices (our dinner totaled only $91 including tax/tip - astounding value). If we lived in Monterey/Pacific Grove, this restaurant would undoubtedly be in our regular neighbourhood rotation.

701 Lighthouse Ave.
Pacific Grove, CA 93950
Phone: (831) 655-3311