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Passionfish - longish

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Passionfish - longish

Food Tyrant | Aug 29, 2005 02:31 AM

I know. Another posting about Pasionfish. Boring.

After reading my original review I felt that it was a lot more negative than I felt they deserved. I believe I was reacting to all the glowing reviews that have been placed here. So let me try to weave my way....

The other night we were invited to PF by a house guest. It has been some time since we had dined there and so I was looking forward to it. We all have our favorites and for some reason PF had never been on my short list. So I want to deal with that as well.

The initial contact was very professional and we were lead to a comfortable table and the ubiquitous bread and butter appeared. Good crusty warm Golden Sheaf bread from Watsonville with a flavored butter. A very small complaint: I think you need to be told that the butter is flavored, and not figure it out for yourself. I was not expecting the butter to taste different from ordinary butter when it did not look different. I did ask the server shortly thereafter and she confirmed that it was a garlic infused butter.

We had 3 appetizers: the crab cake, the ceviche of tuna and mango, and corn ravioli.

I found the crab cake to be lacking in crab flavor even though it was a crisp thick cake, yet light and not overly bready. I don't know how they got a miminal crab flavor out of the cake. I wanted to like this, but it was merely OK.

The tuna ceviche was not my cup of tea at all. Full of Asian flavors (I really thought it tasted of kimchee), my dining companions loved it. I mean loved it. So I defer to them. Order the ceviche.

The corn ravioli was superb. Finished with a olive tomato vinaigrette that added some unexpected bright flavors to a pasta dish. Really tasted of sweet corn.

The main course were the halibut with potato gnocchi, the salmon with coconut rice, and the perch with mashed potatoes.

The perch was not bad. I know the whole thing about faint praise, but it was a filet of perch, pan fried on top of a mound of mashed potatoes with a black sauce smeared over it and snap peas laid about the edges. The potatoes were very tasty, but the perch could have been any fish, and the black sauce was supposed to be a balsamic garlic butter. I detected no hint of balsamic except for some sweetness. It was a very good garlic butter though, but did not uplift the heaviness of the rest of the dish.

The halibut and salmon were perfectly cooked. Crispy on the outside and moist and tender inside. A very capable showing. However none of us liked the gnocchi which were pasty and slick.

The dessert course brought a chamomile creme brulee, a banana with coconut ice cream, and a peach and blackberry cobbler.

The berries were far too tart and overwhelmed the rest of the dish. No one could taste any peachiness, and in fact the peach slices were quite raw and crisp.

The brulee was really good and rich, but the burnt sugar had been nuked a little too long so that the sugar had developed a bitter component.

The bananas were also very good as a kind of Fosterized version. MuY only complaint was that the coconut ice cream was really vanilla ice cream rolled in coconut.

We had two wines. The Nicolas Feuillatte Champagne and the Origin 2001 Sauvignon Blanc. Both were truly great. PF has a fantastic beer and wine program. The server steered me to the Origin and what a wine. Great complexity with a lovely balance of acid and fruit. Highly recommended. Another nit of a complaint is the stemware. I know that they don't charge a lot for their wines, but drinking a great wine from what amounts to Libby stemware is a bummer.

We had a good meal. Prices were right. The fish was cooked well. The service was competant but I felt they could have been more attentive. Having to ask for share plates and serving spoons is not right especially when we told the server that we were going to share the apps. Their wine pricing is a real attraction.

I think PF provides good eats with a wine program that few can match. The presentations should be upgraded to reflect current artistic benchmarks. Is it as good as some on this board would have you believe? I don't think so, but that does not mean that they aren't now on my short list.

A thumbs up in the vernacular.

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