Tag Archives: PassionFish

PassionFish Bethesda — Lunch on 9 August 2019

PassionFish

PassionFish

It’s that time of the year again, when restaurateurs counter the industry’s traditional late-summer slump by offering special deals to attract diners. Between late July and mid-September, you can find a Restaurant Week promotion in almost every American city where “going out for a good meal” implies something a little more exciting than having dinner at Burger King.

Washington, DC, and its suburbs have three overlapping Restaurant Week programs: one based in Bethesda, featuring restaurants in suburban Maryland, one in Alexandria, Virginia, and one covering the entire metropolitan area. It’s not unusual for some restaurants to extend their Restaurant Week specials for a second week, or even longer, which means that in August, I tend to dine very well, at a relatively low cost.

First stop for me this summer: PassionFish Bethesda.

Lobster and Carrot Ginger Bisque

Lobster and Carrot Ginger Bisque

I’ve gotten into the habit of almost always beginning RW at one of the Passion Food Hospitality group’s restaurants, like PassionFish Bethesda, District Commons, or the now-closed and much-missed Acadiana, and I’ve never had any regrets.

This time, I started with a Lobster and Carrot Ginger Bisque, with lobster (duh), carrots, and peas.

Red Thai Curry and Golden Pineapple

Red Thai Curry and Golden Pineapple

The Red Thai Curry, with a hint of Kaffir lime, had just the right heat for my Western tastes, and the golden pineapple was a nice complement. Served with shrimp over jasmine rice.

Chocolate Mousse Crunch

Chocolate Mousse Crunch

A wonderful dessert, but I kept thinking that it looked like it belonged with another meal. It was a very “European” dessert following an Asian main, resulting in a slight culture clash. That didn’t stop me from enjoying this Chocolate Mousse Crunch with strawberry coulis.


At the Bethesda Metro Station

It was good to see the waters flowing again at the entrance to the Bethesda Metro Station. In its earlier years, Metro put a lot of effort into making some of the approaches to station entrances architecturally interesting. That’s no longer a priority, unfortunately.

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year — Restaurant Weeks!

I love Restaurant Weeks because they give me an excuse to enjoy two of my favourite Deadly Sins: Greed and Gluttony. Greed, because I can dine on excellent food for relatively little money, and Gluttony, because…I can dine on excellent food.

The plan this summer was to visit only places that were new to me. I had my schedule all set, when the Passion Food Hospitality group announced that they’d be offering a preview of Restaurant Week on the Friday before the official start date. I immediately made a reservation for lunch at District Commons. Not only had I eaten there before, I planned to have basically the same meal.

District Commons

District Commons

District Commons is a big, loud, busy restaurant in a part of DC called Foggy Bottom, which is between Georgetown and the White House. Over the past few decades, George Washington University has taken over much of the surrounding area.

Passion Food Hospitality is a group of seven Washington-area restaurants, including, besides District Commons,  Passionfish, and Acadiana. I’ve dined at five of the restaurants, and I’ve always been happy with my meals.

Texas Chili

Texas Chili

Served with optional onion, sour cream, and cheese toppings, and a delicious little cornbread muffin.

Shrimp & Grits

Shrimp & Grits

This is the main reason I came back to District Commons: To see if the Shrimp & Grits was really as good as I remembered it to be.

It was.

Servings here are generous, and for the second time, I took more than half my main home for late night snacking. The dish was composed of Sautéed Gulf Shrimp, Tasso Ham, Creamy Cheese Grits, and the usual base of carrots, onions, and celery that New Orleanians call “The Holy Trinity”.

I think I’ve just decided to go back to The Big Easy next February.

Strawberry Cheesecake Sundae

Strawberry Cheesecake Sundae

The last time I was here, dessert was an amateurish disappointment.  This Strawberry Cheesecake Sundae was a serious improvement. Cheesecake Ice Cream, Macerated Strawberries, and a Graham Cracker Crust.

The whole experience was a great lead-off for the weeks to come.

PassionFish — Lunch on 16 January 2018

The PassionFish Mermaid

The PassionFish Mermaid

2018 Winter Restaurant Week 1, Day 1

Looking back, I noticed that during 2017 Summer RW I’d revisited more restaurants that I already knew and enjoyed than new places. For 2018 Winter RW, I’ve made a conscious effort to correct that failing. About 75% of the places on my tentative list are new to me.

My first stop, though, was someplace that I just had to try again: PassionFish, in Bethesda. Was it really as good as I remembered it?

Turns out, it was better.

Crab & Corn Chowder

I was able to narrow down the choice of a starter to the Crab & Corn Chowder with jumbo lump crab meat and green onions or the Lobster Butternut Squash Bisque with toasted pepitas and pumpkin oil. The excellent server said he’d choose the chowder, and I have always relied on the kindness recommendations of strangers waiters, unless they’re clearly trying to up-sell me.

It was a good choice.

Red Thai Curry

Red Thai Curry

I’d decided on a main of Red Thai Curry Shrimp and Golden Pineapple with jasmine rice and kaffir lime as soon as I saw it on the menu. My server suggested bringing an extra portion of rice, because this was a hot, hot dish. He was right again.

A note on the sloppiness of the presentation: That wasn’t the restaurant’s fault, it was mine. The curry came in a separate bowl, which you can see in the background. I served myself a small portion of the curry to start, and I wasn’t very careful plating the serving.

Chocolate Mousse Crunch

Chocolate Mousse Crunch

On the other hand, I had nothing to do with the plating of this elegant Chocolate Mousse Crunch with vanilla-bean anglaise and strawberry coulis. This was a stunner. It tasted even better than it looked.

All in all, the meal was about as close to perfect as it could be.


After cheerfully over-tipping that helpful server, I walked across the street to the Landmark Bethesda Row Cinema, just in time for a matinee screening of Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Much as I love film, I hardly ever go to the movies anymore. During 2017, fr’instance, I saw 6.75 times as many movies on airplanes as I saw in movie theatres, because what else are you going to do when it’s three in the morning and you’re somewhere over the Atlantic. (True Fact: I calculated that figure at three in the morning, somewhere over the Atlantic.)

Besides, 95% of the world’s movies and tv shows easily accessible for streaming, which is a good argument for staying at home, where it’s warm and you can pause or replay the action and you don’t even have to wear pants if you don’t want to.

But Three Billboards was written, produced, and directed by Martin McDonagh, and his In Bruges is one of my five favourite films of the 21st century, so…

He’s created another profane, violent, and hilarious classic. Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, and Sam Rockwell all give what might be their best performances.

PassionFish — Lunch on 18 January 2017

PassionFish

PassionFish

Bethesda Restaurant Week continues. Same city, but another day, and another restaurant.

I’d spent two days at places I knew well, so it was time for something new. I made my first visit to PassionFish, which is just across the street from Mon Ami Gabi.

Ceviche

Ceviche

The starter got some serious heat from the habañero.

It was listed on the menu as “Classic Peruvian-Style Ceviche.”  It earned that title because it contained toasted kernels of Cancha corn, which is popular in the Andes. I’d never tasted it before this. Because of the unexpected crunchy texture, I  wasn’t even sure it was corn at first, but the server confirmed it.

I later found a video on how to make “Cancha – Andean Corn Nuts for Ceviche”—it’s really simple—and I’m going to make some for snacking.

You need a special variety of corn called maiz chulpe to make cancha.

Trout

Trout

The main was a perfectly cooked North Carolina Mountain Trout, with green beans, almonds, and a citrus brown butter. For the longest time, I wasn’t sure whether to eat the skin when I ordered fish. Epicurious cleared it up for me:

“Salmon, branzino, sea bass, snapper, flounder, and mackerel skin are all delicious when cooked until crisp. But Usewicz says you should forget about ever trying to eat tuna skin (it’s way too tough) or skate skin, which has thorn-like barbs in it (fortunately most skate is sold already cleaned). Swordfish skin is edible, but not that tasty. Same goes for monkfish.”

For the record, you can add trout to the approved list. The skin at PassionFish was crisp and delicious.