Jump to content
CajunJason

PassionFish, Seafood in Reston Town Center and Bethesda Row by Passion Food Hospitality

Recommended Posts

PassionFish is now open. This is a handsome restaurant space that seems to combine aspects of The Source (with the staircase ascending in the middle), DC Coast (looking over towards the entrance), and 2941 (around the windows). Design-wise, PassionFish gives off the air of being stylish without being gaudy, and of being functional without being sterile.

The location itself is fascinating, at least in terms of sociology and economics. Situated at the outskirts of Reston Town Center, it's currently "down the block" from all the action, and if I were Passion Food LLC, I'd be campaigning the powers of Reston for permission to put signs up in the free parking garage, pointing the pedestrians out the side exit, and landing them right in front of PassionFish. As it stands, Uncle Julio's and Jackson's may well serve as blockades siphoning off pedestrian traffic. Case in point: last night at 7:30 PM, there were forty-one people in the bar area of Jackson's, and only three in the bar area of PassionFish.

That having been said, nobody knows this is open yet. And if everyone examined the two wine lists side-by-side, there would be a mass exodus stampeding out of Jackson's, and storming the gates of PassionFish - it's a very good, workable wine list, both by the glass and by the bottle.

The menu obviously focuses on seafood, and offers it in many guises - sushi, ceviche, raw, cold, hot, broiled, fried, small plates, big plates, Mediterranean, Latino, Asian... they've covered all the bases, and even have their own sushi chef.

Dinner starts out with a welcoming amuse-gueule of Smoked Great Lakes Whitefish Rillettes, served in a jar with toasted slices of baguette - it even comes with an elegant little toe-tag which you can take home as a souvenir.

Wanting to sample a cross-section of their menu, I ordered Spicy Tuna Roll ($11), Kona Kampachi Crudo ($10), Grilled Baby Octopus ($12), Monkfish "Osso Bucco" Amatriciana ($23), Steamed Blue Hill Bay Mussels Veracruz ($12), and Fricassee of Market Vegetables ($5).

And of course, a special bottle of Sancerre as a gesture of respect to the new kids in Reston.

The potential is here for PassionFish to be a major force on the Reston restaurant scene. I suspect it will become very popular and financially successful; critical acclaim for the cuisine itself will hinge entirely on execution, saucing, and attention to detail. On verra...

Cheers,

Rocks.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
PassionFish is now open. This is a handsome restaurant space that seems to combine aspects of The Source (with the staircase ascending in the middle), DC Coast (looking over towards the entrance), and 2941 (around the windows). Design-wise, PassionFish gives off the air of being stylish without being gaudy, and of being functional without being sterile.

The location itself is fascinating, at least in terms of sociology and economics. Situated at the outskirts of Reston Town Center, it's currently "down the block" from all the action, and if I were Passion Food LLC, I'd be campaigning the powers of Reston for permission to put signs up in the free parking garage, pointing the pedestrians out the side exit, and landing them right in front of PassionFish. As it stands, Uncle Julio's and Jackson's may well serve as blockades siphoning off pedestrian traffic. Case in point: last night at 7:30 PM, there were forty-one people in the bar area of Jackson's, and only three in the bar area of PassionFish.

That having been said, nobody knows this is open yet. And if everyone examined the two wine lists side-by-side, there would be a mass exodus stampeding out of Jackson's, and storming the gates of PassionFish - it's a very good, workable wine list, both by the glass and by the bottle.

The menu obviously focuses on seafood, and offers it in many guises - sushi, ceviche, raw, cold, hot, broiled, fried, small plates, big plates, Mediterranean, Latino, Asian... they've covered all the bases, and even have their own sushi chef.

Dinner starts out with a welcoming amuse-gueule of Smoked Great Lakes Whitefish Rillettes, served in a jar with toasted slices of baguette - it even comes with an elegant little toe-tag which you can take home as a souvenir.

Wanting to sample a cross-section of their menu, I ordered Spicy Tuna Roll ($11), Kona Kampachi Crudo ($10), Grilled Baby Octopus ($12), Monkfish "Osso Bucco" Amatriciana ($23), Steamed Blue Hill Bay Mussels Veracruz ($12), and Fricassee of Market Vegetables ($5).

And of course, a special bottle of Sancerre as a gesture of respect to the new kids in Reston.

The potential is here for PassionFish to be a major force on the Reston restaurant scene. I suspect it will become very popular and financially successful; critical acclaim for the cuisine itself will hinge entirely on execution, saucing, and attention to detail. On verra...

Cheers,

Rocks.

Three visits now including lunch today. Superb tuna Nicoise, fried oysters equal to Charleston which were the best I'd ever had, excellent lobster roll with outstanding fresh french fries, excellent gumbo-in fact all of their soups are delicious.

This IS the best restaurant in Western Fairfax county but, as Don noted, may be paying something of a price for being a block past the Jackson's/Uncle Julio's intersection. It is going to take time for people to fully discover the excellence and, yes, value here. In the meantime Jackson's may be the current flagship of GAR and generated a great deal of buzz before they opened their doors; a head start on brand recognition alone in Fairfax county. Passion Fish needs to be known. And will be. As the defining restaurant for Reston Town Center it is well worth the drive from the Beltway or down the block past Jackson's.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
This IS the best restaurant in Western Fairfax county but, as Don noted, may be paying something of a price for being a block past the Jackson's/Uncle Julio's intersection.

Looking forward to trying it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have one thing to say about Passion Fish in Reston: GO THERE NOW!

Ok, now that that's out of the way, on to the review. My husband and I went to the bar last night to try out a few items. We each started with a Stella, but I finished with the "World Class Martini", a mix of Ciroc snap frost vodka, white grape juice and frozen grapes garnish. I usually stick to beer and wine, but this was selling like hotcakes at the bar, so I had to try one. Aggie, our friendly and helpful bartender, took care of us all night and displayed her skills with this refreshing concoction. For more substantial fare, we had the Crispy Fried Oysters with Apple and Celery Root Slaw, the Spicy Tuna Roll, and the Lobster Roll Sliders. The tuna rolls were slightly larger than what you would get in most sushi joints, but still "one-biters." The spicy mayonnaise was served as a small dollop on top of each piece instead of mixed in, and I thought this helped the fresh tuna flavor come out more. The fried oysters....well, let's just say Joe H is on the money. These crisp yet meaty beasts were on par with the best I've ever had, most of which have been found in Charleston or other deep south locales. Finally, the lobster rolls. My only complaint is the portion size for $12 - three tiny sliders (for two people no less - sawing the last one in half was a challenge!) is on the small side. However, the flavor and meat were top notch.

Interesting side note - the French sounding "owner" (or manager? hard to tell since it's a corporate entity) of Mon Ami Gabi was on the other end of the bar chatting with Chef Tunks for a good part of the evening. Also, the crowds at Jacksons were the topic of many conversations around us - all folks wondering like we were why there weren't more people at Passion Fish! Sure, the prices ARE a bit higher than Jacksons, but the experience and cuisine are a notch above everything else in RTC and I'd venture all of Reston/Herndon. Welcome Passion Fish!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My wife and I went Wednesday night for dinner. It was very good and we'll definitely be back, but . . .

First, the space is very nice and the sound level very reasonable. The service was attentive and efficient, with the various members of the staff seeming to work well as a team. The wine list is limited, but well selected, with decent choices at various price points.

The starters were better than the mains. I had a grilled baby octopus which had a very nice grill flavor and just the right texture. My wife had a Kamikaze roll that had a very nice mix of flavors and just the slightest crunch which helped the overall appeal. One down side to the roll - the pieces were too big, such that they were difficult to handle and quite a mouthful for one bite.

While the mains were good, they were a little disappointing. We went with standards, for comparison purposes. My wife had crab cakes, which she enjoyed, but thought were missing that certain someting and she was bothered by several pieces of shell in the cakes. I had the cioppino. The shellfish and fish were high quality and tasty, but the broth was quite bland and needed additional spice of some type. Even the garlic bread didn't seem to have any garlic.

One personal pet peeve. Why do servers feel compelled to offer assistance with wine choices when they don't even know the wines on their lists? And how tough is it to teach the staff the wines, particularly at a new restaurant? While well intentioned, the waitress had no clue of what I was ordering when I ordered the wine (as often happens, fall back to the bin number) and totally mangled the name of the producer (Chehalem - okay, maybe a little unusual), the region (Willamette Valley - okay, maybe if you're not familiar with the area) and the variety (Pinot Gris - even though it's French, it shouldn't be that tough in a restaurant). Sorry for the kvetching, but this stuff bothers me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I have one thing to say about Passion Fish in Reston: GO THERE NOW!

Ok, now that that's out of the way, on to the review. My husband and I went to the bar last night to try out a few items. We each started with a Stella, but I finished with the "World Class Martini", a mix of Ciroc snap frost vodka, white grape juice and frozen grapes garnish. I usually stick to beer and wine, but this was selling like hotcakes at the bar, so I had to try one. Aggie, our friendly and helpful bartender, took care of us all night and displayed her skills with this refreshing concoction. For more substantial fare, we had the Crispy Fried Oysters with Apple and Celery Root Slaw, the Spicy Tuna Roll, and the Lobster Roll Sliders. The tuna rolls were slightly larger than what you would get in most sushi joints, but still "one-biters." The spicy mayonnaise was served as a small dollop on top of each piece instead of mixed in, and I thought this helped the fresh tuna flavor come out more. The fried oysters....well, let's just say Joe H is on the money. These crisp yet meaty beasts were on par with the best I've ever had, most of which have been found in Charleston or other deep south locales. Finally, the lobster rolls. My only complaint is the portion size for $12 - three tiny sliders (for two people no less - sawing the last one in half was a challenge!) is on the small side. However, the flavor and meat were top notch.

Interesting side note - the French sounding "owner" (or manager? hard to tell since it's a corporate entity) of Mon Ami Gabi was on the other end of the bar chatting with Chef Tunks for a good part of the evening. Also, the crowds at Jacksons were the topic of many conversations around us - all folks wondering like we were why there weren't more people at Passion Fish! Sure, the prices ARE a bit higher than Jacksons, but the experience and cuisine are a notch above everything else in RTC and I'd venture all of Reston/Herndon. Welcome Passion Fish!

Passion Fish "suffers" from its location as well as the name recognition and "middle class" perception of GAR up the street. The traffic flow just stops at that intersection. You can also factor in a small sign (Jackson's has much more visibility just from the design of its facade), an empty building under construction across the street with temporary scaffolding to shield pedestrians from falling materials, an empty lot adjacent (the "farmer's market" is now at least five months from re-opening), the perception that it is MUCH more expensive (it is NOT-for the most part it is the SAME price as Jackson's), a less compelling bar scene (to Jackson's "Lucky" lounge) and, perhaps most importantly, the local economy.

Passion Fish WILL be the defining restaurant of Western Fairfax county. But to accomplish this it must be "discovered." This also means it must be promoted. It is unfortunate-sadly unfortunate-that it is not enough to have delicious, imaginatively presented and prepared food; it has to be marketed. It has to be wanted. I believe that Passion Fish needs to position itself as THE restaurant of Western Fairfax county. To accomplish this we are talking about events: Guest Chefs(Emeril is at Whole Foods in Fair Lakes)/television spots with local celebrities/cooking classes publicized in local papers/"festivals" and evenings drawing on Jeff Tunks' background at, then, New Orleans BEST restaurant in the Windsor Court/special dinners and national publicity (i.e. an appearance-however arranged-on the Food Network or the Green Channel or anything national that brings local publicity)/Jeff Tunks who is one of this city's-any city's-best chefs.

Anything that lets people know this is, indeed, a special restaurant. Worth the six miles from the Beltway or the one block from Jackson's.

This is a restaurant worthy of hyperbolic promotion. As a 20+ year Restonian and native born Washingtonian I am honored that a great restaurant has finally come here. I am embarassed that it has not received the over the top attention that Jackson's has. I like Jackson's. A lot. But Passion Fish is better. It is a credit to Reston, to Fairfax county, and a helluva lot shorter drive than downtown D. C. from our home here. In time both Passion Fish and Jackson's will do well. For Passion Fish it is going to involve some work that has nothing to do with what is on the table. This is a serious restaurant. For D. C. or for Reston.

Thank you Chef Tunks.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sounds like it's only real competition should be L'auberge chez Francois, which is prix fixe at around $75. Would Passion Fish be able to pull away lovers of old world food and charm?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sounds like it's only real competition should be L'auberge chez Francois, which is prix fixe at around $75. Would Passion Fish be able to pull away lovers of old world food and charm?

They are very different: you are comparing 1789 to what I think is Passion Foods' best restaurant in an ambience, as Don mentioned, that has elements from The Source as well as 2941.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
It's one of the best restaurants in VA.

:)

I think Passionfish suffers the same fate as some of the other so called dining destinations at the Reston Town Center.

Economy, location, and it's featured menu is mainly just seafood.

Meat eating expense accounts will still go to Morton's for the nice bottle of Cab and a steak.

Working class singles will hang out in the Town Center, Jackson's, Clyde's, people seeking ethnic will venture into Il Fornaio, for a casual meal

or a real Italian regional fare. With a nice wine list available for the foodies. Or a jaunt to Mon Ami Gabi will entice them.

Places like Passion Fish will be a word of mouth type of venue, the rave reviews will be the force that drives business there.

I seem to think the summer brings out the seafood lover in even the casual diner, so they will see an up tick in business by then.

I ate there right before they opened and I was moderately impressed but certainly not dazzled. My shrimp with grits was spot on, but the Peruvian ceviche was not

the ceviche I ate in Lima. Popcorn in place of hot peppers is a poor interpretation. I think Hook in Georgetown is more of a real seafood place.

They stick to what they do best, and don't try everything from ragin cajun to New England Lobster rolls that are more expensive than any Lobster you'll find in Maine.

Service was not what I consider spot on but passable. The sushi is good but expensive. Hostess was not very personable and the server had to be prompted for drinks and utensils.

But I will chalk that up to opening jitters. I feel like a lot of the menu was a throw back to Paul Prudhomme's Louisiana Kitchen and a Zagats tour of popular seafood recipe's re hashed by Tunks. I would like to see more creativity from a chef with such a good reputation. But leave the popcorn out of the ceviche... Good Luck. :lol:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I think Passionfish suffers the same fate as some of the other so called dining destinations at the Reston Town Center.

Economy, location, and it's featured menu is mainly just seafood.

Meat eating expense accounts will still go to Morton's for the nice bottle of Cab and a steak.

Working class singles will hang out in the Town Center, Jackson's, Clyde's, people seeking ethnic will venture into Il Fornaio, for a casual meal

or a real Italian regional fare. With a nice wine list available for the foodies. Or a jaunt to Mon Ami Gabi will entice them.

Places like Passion Fish will be a word of mouth type of venue, the rave reviews will be the force that drives business there.

I seem to think the summer brings out the seafood lover in even the casual diner, so they will see an up tick in business by then.

I ate there right before they opened and I was moderately impressed but certainly not dazzled. My shrimp with grits was spot on, but the Peruvian ceviche was not

the ceviche I ate in Lima. Popcorn in place of hot peppers is a poor interpretation. I think Hook in Georgetown is more of a real seafood place.

They stick to what they do best, and don't try everything from ragin cajun to New England Lobster rolls that are more expensive than any Lobster you'll find in Maine.

Service was not what I consider spot on but passable. The sushi is good but expensive. Hostess was not very personable and the server had to be prompted for drinks and utensils.

But I will chalk that up to opening jitters. I feel like a lot of the menu was a throw back to Paul Prudhomme's Louisiana Kitchen and a Zagats tour of popular seafood recipe's re hashed by Tunks. I would like to see more creativity from a chef with such a good reputation. But leave the popcorn out of the ceviche... Good Luck. :lol:

I would point out the comparable restaurant you mention, Hook, is in DC, not VA.

One example with Passion fish that I particularity liked was the gumbo soup. There was a complexity in terms of spices, rice and seafood ingredients that I enjoyed very much.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
They are very different: you are comparing 1789 to what I think is Passion Foods' best restaurant in an ambience, as Don mentioned, that has elements from The Source as well as 2941.

They are indeed very different and there is certainly room for both out here in the boonies. We are big fans of L'Auberge but after my lunch at DC Coast last Friday I've told my wife I want to try PassionFish soon.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

How are the lunch portions? Lunch prices look decent, so that's probably when I'll give it a try.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Healthy pre-Thanksgiving crowds in Reston Town Center last night as I walked into PassionFish with singular thoughts of a dessert.

The seafood theme carried over into the clever presentation of Warm Donut Holes ($7), four yeasty, biscuit-shaped, sugar-dipped rounds served in a tipped over paper-towel cone, with a scallop dish of coffee Bavarian cream. Now, I don't know of anywhere in the world where you can actually stroll along the sea and buy a cone of fried clams with dipping sauce, but if you COULD, and I suspect there are indeed places where you can, this would be a clever take on that. And seven dollars may seem seafood-expensive for four donut holes (all desserts here are seven dollars), but I'd rather have four good donut holes than eight bad ones, and the Bavarian cream also had a refreshing taste of coffee grounds instead of just sweetness - complemented perfectly by an Oban 14, neat, one cube on the side ($16).

Cheers,

Rocks.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Reston Town Center has had large crowds over the past week or ten days. I believe that Passion Fish has been discovered (try the Norwegian crab legs-incredible!), certainly at dinner. I'm also guessing there is now enough critical mass at Town Center that it is becoming a kind of somewhat smaller Bethesda or Old Town (minus the indivudal chef owned restaurants) as a destination drawing people from a larger area than before. It's also entirely possible that Tyson's is losing diners to Reston because of the congestion and new construction. There are still more restaurants to open with Counter Burger ( http://www.thecounterburger.com/ ) under construction adjacent to Mon Ami Gabi. The White Chocolate Grill (if it is still coming-lack of activity in the building for a good while http://www.whitechocolategrill.com/ ) promises to be interesting also as does the Towson gelato shop (whose name I forgot) and the Middleburg winery's tasting room outpost.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think one can safely say it has been discovered! Dinner tonight was lovely. While we usually go to Palena for celebratory dining, I waited too long to make a reservation and didn't want to wait for a table in the Cafe. Since I've been wanting to try Passion Fish and we were able to get a reservation, we went for it and weren't disappointed.

Service was exceptional, from the minute we walked in the door. Rob, our server, got his exercise tonight going up and down the stairs. But he always managed to be around just when we needed him to be. Water glasses were filled unobtrusively, additional bread crisps offered several times, so we were able to finish the wonderful whitefish spread that is served with the crisps; a nice substitute of a standard bread and butter. Maybe it was because both Chef Tunks and the Executive Chef Chris (sorry can't recall his full name) were in the house.

I had oysters to start while Mr. Squids had a salad. The oysters were fresh and tasty, while the salad was a nice opener. I was surprised that the salad was actually quite large. For mains, I had a customized scallop dish with bok choy over mashed potatoes in a butter sauce. Mr. S had the whole branzino with a side of roasted winter vegetables. All the food was well prepared and delicious. For dessert, we had the salted caramel creme brulee, and the key lime tart. I would probably order the key lime tart again over the creme brulee; not that the creme brulee was bad or disappointing, but it just paled in comparison to the intense flavors of the tart. I had a glass of wine, and with the apps, mains and desserts we were at $50/pp pre-tax and tip.

I'm not sorry we went here and would definitely like to go back, but it isn't convenient for us and we aren't usually in Reston when it is just the two of us. And it's not quite the type of restaurant to drag the whole family to on a whim. Knowing that we will go to get our Palena fix in 28 days for Mr. S' bday also helped. :lol:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Is this place open on Sunday? They do not answer their phone!

Raisa, they are closed on Sunday. But if you go Norwegian king crab legs, fried oysters, gumbo and Tuna Nicoise for a start.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My husband and I went back for a second try a couple weeks ago. Again we are light eaters so we just got a couple apps at the bar. The grilled octopus was outstanding - quite a meaty and charred flavor. Even if you don't count yourself as a seafood lover, you will be pleased with this hearty dish. We also had the tuna tartare - crisp, clean, and not overpowered by soy and wasabi like many of the tuna tartares we have had lately.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I almost hate to do this, because I didn't eat there, but I was in the Reston Town Center for other business today and noticed the ubiquitous and ever-evil Sysco truck parked outside PassionFish. I'm hoping it was just dropping off paper napkins or something similarly inedible....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I almost hate to do this, because I didn't eat there, but I was in the Reston Town Center for other business today and noticed the ubiquitous and ever-evil Sysco truck parked outside PassionFish. I'm hoping it was just dropping off paper napkins or something similarly inedible....

Then why even mention it?

I worked for Jeff Tunks for 5 years and I seriously doubt it is anything but paper goods and other sundries.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Then why even mention it?

I worked for Jeff Tunks for 5 years and I seriously doubt it is anything but paper goods and other sundries.

The king crab legs are literally flown in from Norway. I would compare these to any Chesapeake Bay lump blue crabmeat that I have ever had.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...