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PassionFish, Seafood in Reston Town Center and Bethesda Row by Passion Food Hospitality - Bethesda is Closing Sun, Nov 15, 2020


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My wife and I chose this place tonight over the more-or-less equidistant Legal Seafood at the Galleria.

Seeing open seats at the bar, and the Caps game on (a tough OT loss after fighting back from a 3-0 deficit), we were treated to some excellent service on the part of the bartender, whose name I failed to get.

I am not much for seafood, other than shrimp, an occasional crabcake, or some clam-o's, so I had the seafood gumbo, after being assured by said bartender that it would not be overly fishy, and a side of mac-and-jack (plain, no lobster or crab topping).  It was an excellent meal for me.  My wife had the snapper, from the catch of the day menu (North Carolina, the menu said), which comes with one side, she chose spinach.  She had an excellent meal also, which included about a third of my mac-and-jack.

Overall, a very positive experience.  One thing that surprised me, though, and I don't go here very often, is that the snapper entrée was $37, with the other similar entrees being in the same ball park.  The serving of the fish looked to be about 6 ounces, and was prepared simply, and the spinach side did not seem very substantial (other sides, like the mac-and-jack I ordered, may be more so).  This seemed a little high to me, but again, I am not often out there at the higher end seafood establishments, so maybe I just need to be a little desensitized to the current prices.  I would have guessed that something like $30-$32 would have been the right price for that meal.

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I heard it on good word that PassionFish Bethesda will be permanently closing after Sunday night. A quick search on OpenTable for both Sunday and Monday seems to confirm this:

I think it's fair to say that any holiday where you're "supposed to" eat out, is a time better spent at home. Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, Father's Day, New Years...I'm avoiding restaurants lik

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Braved the crowds and ventured to Passion Fish for the $35 Restaurant Week dinner. We were very impressed. The deal is choose from a select group of apps and desserts and then anything else on the regular menu (except a $10 upcharge for the lobster pot or the filet mignon). We had lobster gazpacho and seafood gumbo apps...both good to good+. The mains were exceptional. Champagne snapper (with beurre blanc) for me with a side of fresh peas and 2 excellent mostly lump crab cakes for my wife,with an enormous side of sweet potato fries. Desserts we both chose were a peach/blackberry crisp with ice cream. Lots of food, and a crab cake came home with us. Service was predictably slow for a slammed Reston Town Center/Restaurant Week. This is a great value when the crab cakes alone are $32 (and worth it). We really like it when the RW menu is not dumbed down for the masses.

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Is Father's Day a bad day to eat out like Valentine's?  Is the A team on brunch and the B team on dinner? 

The cioppino contained loads of bland seafood, with some tough shrimp (which I'm beginning to expect).  The service was slow, probably because our server was also serving the bar area.  I did get a free glass of Gruet (which at $9/glass is a pretty good deal).

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5 hours ago, Ericandblueboy said:

Is Father's Day a bad day to eat out like Valentine's?  Is the A team on brunch and the B team on dinner? 

The cioppino contained loads of bland seafood, with some tough shrimp (which I'm beginning to expect).  The service was slow, probably because our server was also serving the bar area.  I did get a free glass of Gruet (which at $9/glass is a pretty good deal).

I think it's fair to say that any holiday where you're "supposed to" eat out, is a time better spent at home.

Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, Father's Day, New Years...I'm avoiding restaurants like the plague.

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PF rides the line between being a little too pricey for a 'normal' evening out for us, but not quite where we'd want to be if we were going for a 'nice' evening out (in several ways), which is probably why it had always been one of those places I walked by and said 'I'd like to try that sometime'... for a few too many years.

Well, finally the occasion called for it, and met friends for dinner on their lovely patio one evening last week.  Service was enthusiastic but seemed overwhelmed, but that gave us time to enjoy our cocktails (once they finally arrived) and the evening.  My wife and I split the crab cocktail ($14) which was a solid portion, but could have been more carefully picked from the shell.  I had the soft shell crabs ($32) which came with 2 jumbo soft shells drizzled with two different sauces (asian flavors) over a bed of vinegar-based slaw.  The crabs themselves were quite large and fried well.  Unfortunately one of the two sauces was very salty, and on top of the seasoned crab left some bits almost inedible. The slaw underneath either didn't hold up well under the heat of the crabs, or was maybe made in batches several days earlier (or both) - it both looked and tasted less fresh that I would have liked.  The waiter didn't bat an eye when a substantial portion of the food on the plate went uneaten, though to be fair it was a very large dish to start with.

Dinner, drink and tax came to $75 (pre-tip) per person which was pretty reasonable given what we ordered, I just wish the entree had been better.  Compared to the wonderful sea bass dinner I had at Ford's two nights later, it's hard to justify the extra miles or dollars for PassionFish.

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Had a thoroughly mediocre lunch at Passionfish in Reston this week. I can understand that business lunches are the rule on weekdays, and I was there for a business lunch as a matter of fact. That said, was it really necessary to push soups out a minute and a half (or less) after they were ordered. Crab and corn chowder was hot - but that was the defining characteristic. Little discernible crab flavor or nuance, and some odd bell pepper notes which really detracted from the corn flavor.

Decided to double down on crab and order the crabcake sandwich - the "boardwalk" fries were great - perfectly fried and well seasoned with Old Bay. The crabcake was insipid. Again, little discernable crab flavor, and a lot of mayo used as a binder. Both sides of the crabcake were seared a bit too hard as well, making the whole thing a bit awkward as the top and bottom of the cake were leathery and the inbetween pretty soft.

If this is the best Passionfish has to offer, and the best in Reston Town Center, I'll be looking elsewhere for lunch for the forseeable future.

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3 hours ago, Keithstg said:

If this is the best Passionfish has to offer, and the best in Reston Town Center, I'll be looking elsewhere for lunch for the forseeable future.

I'm afraid that Passionfish is one of "those" restaurants - funded by a large restaurant group, really good for a few months or perhaps longer (old restaurant groups still believe in "Review Season," which no longer exists (or, more accurately, no longer matters)), and then settles into mediocrity (or something slightly better than that). Look at the fifth paragraph in my first post - do they still serve that amuse-bouche?

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I have to agree with part of what Don says above:  My impression of the "current" PassionFish group is that it drops below excellent.  Too bad.  I found both TenPenh and DC Coast to be among the most enjoyable restaurants in the city when they initially opened, food and environment were both excellent.  Could certainly be too many restaurants and an inability to put time and energy toward excelling in the kitchen let alone with service.

On the other hand, even recently I've heard from some in the industry that felt its affect, that rave reviews in the Post had a tremendous positive impact for a good period of time.  Those same restaurants saw business slow down some reasonably lengthy period after the initial reviews, and possibly they dropped the ball.  Lots of restaurants open and many get the benefit of excellent initial reviews.  I clearly haven't spoken to all or even close to a majority...but those that I have heard/spoken with get a lot of value from great reviews. 

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They have a reputation of "the best happy hour in Reston" ($5 select seafood apps and cocktails 3 to 6.30). Tried to test it and get in a bit before 6pm on a Tuesday, but the bar area was so packed with suits that after lingering a while I decided to move on to American Tap Room  (which HH is not as good of a value as it was a few months ago - less selection, higher prices. Not that it was excellent before.). As expected, the dining room at Passion Fish was completely empty at the time. Bar area is pretty small, so fills up quick. Consider that if you're not willing to be bumped around with a drink/bite in hand.

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Quick update -- lunch today was pretty good. I had the char-grilled baby octopus with a side of grilled asparagus. 

The asparagus was perfect. The baby octopus itself was very good, but the bedding of Haloumi cheese with a quinoa salad and tsaztiki was a stretch.

Just under $20 for the pair of dishes, which was less than the $24 I mistakenly spent for parking on that doggone ParkRTC app....

 

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1 hour ago, DonRocks said:

I heard it on good word that PassionFish Bethesda will be permanently closing after Sunday night. A quick search on OpenTable for both Sunday and Monday seems to confirm this:

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That's really too bad. A business lunch staple. Always solid. Guess it's back to Mon Ami Gabi...

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Confirmed via their Facebook post.

After five years as Bethesda Maryland’s outstanding seafood destination, we're sad to tell you that we will permanently close after dinner service on Sunday, November 15th. In today’s challenging environment, many issues beyond our control have affected our ability to continue to operate the restaurant.
 
“We've absolutely loved being part of the Bethesda community. It’s heartbreaking to have to leave all of the great guests who have become our friends over the years,” says David Wizenberg, one of the partners of PassionFish. “We hope to see our guests at our other location PassionFish Reston, and we hope everyone in the community stays safe & healthy.”
 
We hope you can all stop by to see us one last time before Sunday night. Visit us online here to see all of our menus & reserve a table now:
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