A few months ago, a coworker raved about a restaurant she has visited for brunch that weekend. She said that she had visited Passionfish in Bethesda, MD and fell in love with their breakfast quesadilla and seafood crepe! She also raved about the prices stating that you could order a starter and entrée for $19 and add unlimited mimosas for $11 more to make it an even $30 brunch. I looked up their menu and found quite a few delicious options and decided to make a reservation for my brunch crew to try it out! After many scheduling conflicts, we finally made it!
Passionfish is located 7187 Woodmont Ave, Bethesda, MD 20814 near Bethesda Row. It is considered a seafood-focused eatery with sushi and Asian-inspired entrees in a sleek space with aquatic paintings. They are a part of the Passion Food Restaurant Group that has six restaurants in the DMV area. Street parking is available as well as a parking garage that is free on Sundays!! The restaurant is quite large and has a seafood and sushi display, and several dining rooms for added space.
Our reservation was for 12:30pm and when we got there, we were seated right away. A friend had gotten there a little early and was seated at the large bar that had the Redskins Game playing on the big screen. Our table for 5 was located in the circler booth that had a round table which was a little annoying to slide into. It was cool for our brunch because it felt like we had our own little section in the restaurant but if you don’t enjoy sliding on a leather seat to scoot into a space, it may not be the best seat for you.
I was a little bummed that the bottomless drinks for $11 only consisted of the blood orange mimosa or a Bloody Mary. I had blood orange cocktail once that I really did not enjoy and was turned off ever since. So, I decided to order a Passion fruit Bellini finished with Prosecco! Delicious cocktail! I love passion fruit and anyone that can capture the flavors so well and create a delicious cocktail is a winner in my book. My friend that ordered the endless blood orange mimosas
enjoyed then and they were even willing to give standard mimosas as well. So the $11 deal is well worth it. While we were looking over the menu and waiting on the last guest, the server bought out some delicious warm house-made cinnamon sugar parker house rolls with apple butter! The bread had a beautiful sparkle from the cinnamon sugar and the butter was soft and just melted into the warm bread. I enjoyed one roll and had to push them away in an effort to not over indulgence.
After going back and forth with my order because so many of the options looked amazing on the menu, we decided to start with the Seafood Crepe, Crab and Corn Chowder, and the Classic Caesar Salad. All of the starters are $11 a la carte or $19 for any two of the courses. I ordered the Seafood Crepe that included shrimp and crab with the holy trinity (onions, bell peppers, and celery), and royal glacage (which is like a fancy hollandaise sauce) topped with scallions. The best way to describe this amazing crepe was that it was like a shrimp and crab bisque! The crepe was so light and the sauce was so rich and delicious! I was so very happy with my starter selection. Three people of our group ordered the crab and corn chowder which included jumbo lump crabmeat and green onions. The presentation was also beautiful as it arrived in a metal bowl and was poured in the serving bowl at the table. They all raved that the soup was very well seasoned and had a rich flavor. Each of them said they would order the dish again. Finally, the Classic Caesar Salad served with Parmigiano-Reggiano and fresh boquerones (the European anchovy). She requested for the fish to be omitted and a little extra dressing and they accommodated her request. She enjoyed her salad and said that it was flavorful. But, the chances of me ordering a Caesar salad with all the other delicious options like that crepe seems unlikely.
We all ordered an entrée instead of ordering a second starter. Without the special, all of the entrees are $16 each. Because of my friend’s rave review, I decided to order the Brunch Quesadilla with scrambled eggs, chorizo sausage, pepper jack cheese, and the traditional condiments of sour cream and salsa. To be clear, I generally never order quesadillas out at restaurants because it is nothing more than a Mexican grilled cheese. And there is nothing wrong with it but I can make that at home. If there is a special cheese or something extraordinary, I may be interested but that is very rare. But my friend raved about the delicious spicy chorizo and the abundance of pepper jack cheese and how the dish came together so wonderfully. Sounds amazing right? Well it was not! I was so disappointed with this dish and felt like I could no longer take food recommendations from her. Restaurant recommendations are one thing, food recommendations are something completely different. The chorizo lacked flavor and I could not taste any of the spicy. It was greasy and at some point started to roll down my hand. I ended up eating this with a fork and knife. I wish they served guacamole with this dish but they didn’t so it was two mini bowls of watery sour cream and a half filled mini bowl of salsa, which was actually pretty good. I could not tell what cheese was in the quesadilla and it certainly did not give me the kick of spicy that I anticipated from pepper jack cheese. While I tolerated the dish and ate it, I definitely wished I had ordered something else.
The hit at the table was the Southern Shrimp and Grits with the holy trinity, creamy cheese grits, and Tasso ham. A friend give me a bite of hers and it was so delicious! The grits were rich and creamy, the shrimp and it sauce was so well seasoned and blended together with the cheese grits was fantastic. When I go back, I would definitely order this. It was just as good as my shrimp and grits that I make on special occasions. Another friend ordered the Fried Chicken and Waffles served with whipped butter and pepper jelly maple syrup. This is a dish that I exclusively have at soulfood restaurants because I am almost guaranteed to be disappointed. It is a violation to serve this dish with fried chicken tender, which they did. It is also a violation to serve this dish without hot sauce, which they did, and I never want my fried chicken on top of my waffle! NO! My first introduction to chicken and waffles was at Roscoe’s chicken and waffles in LA that still serves some of the best chicken and waffles I’ve ever had. Many restaurants have tried to capitalize on this trendy meal but they fail. Here, the chicken was good but the waffle was not spectacular. And the special syrup was not all that impressive and she ended up just asking for plain syrup. To me, the description of the syrup sounds gross. But this is a prime example of people trying to fancy up a basic dish and it ends up falling flat because it is completely unnecessary.
Lastly, my friend ordered the Eggs “Bar Harbor” which included poached eggs, Maine lobster, and lemon chervil hollandaise. It was basically a lobster eggs benedict. She requested that her eggs be poached hard and they accommodated the request but the eggs did not come out how she expected them. They looked with small boiled eggs or little dinosaur eggs. She also requested the sauce on the side which is why the eggs look so plain. She enjoyed the dish overall and said that she would order it again though maybe alter her egg request. I attached a picture of what it usually looks like. I was leaning close to ordering this dish but wrongly decided to see what the rave was about with the quesadilla. If you cannot tell, I am really upset about that failure of the quesadillas. That was not a meal but this Eggs Bar Harbor was!
A few of us decided to enjoy desserts. I ordered the Warm Donut Holes with coffee Bavarian cream ($8), Selection of House Made Sorbets ($7) of coconut, mango, and strawberry, and the Chocolate Mousse Bomb ($8) with praline, vanilla-bean anglaise, and strawberry coulis. My other friends decided to drink their dessert with the unlimited mimosas! I really appreciate the customer service because since I stated that I was unsure about the blood orange mimosa, the server bought me one of the house to try. Once I said that I enjoyed it, he brought out several more for me and the people that actually bought the bottomless deal. For the desserts, the warm donuts were covered with cinnamon sugar and for this cinnamon lover, I was in heaven!! I knew that I was not going to enjoy the cream because of the coffee flavor but the donut holes were fine on their own. The sorbet was delicious and had great balance infusion of the fruit flavors that was not too sweet. The most elegant dessert was the chocolate mousse bomb that presented beautiful. The dessert was covered with a darker chocolate shell and had the delicious chocolate mousse inside! My friend allowed me to share a bite with her and what a treat!
Overall, I had a fantastic meal at Passionfish and we will definitely be returning for brunch in 2017! I recommend this place especially on Sunday to take advance of the free parking! Plus you are able to do a little shopping afterward and walk around. If you are into cupcakes with frosting, there is a Georgetown Cupcakes location just down the street. I spent a total of $44.97 altogether and which include 3 Bellinis at $5 though I only ordered two. However, since I was giving several additional free drinks, I decided not to argue. I spent a total of $53.97 and enjoyed it….minus the quesadilla. The following is my Seven Mac Score for the restaurant:
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