By Herald de Paris Contributor's Bureau on February 27, 2015

Photo Courtesy of SF Gate

Photo Courtesy of SF Gate

By Anna Wilding
MONTEREY, CA (Herald de Paris) — ¬†The delights of any trip to the coastal towns of Carmel or Monterey in Northern California are¬†many, not least of which is the food. A multitude of sophisticated dining options await from fine¬†dining through to the casual and exotic.

Pacific Grove , with its quaint charm, is nestled between Carmel and Monterey, and hence only¬†about two minutes away from each by car. ¬†Let’s face it, anyone who knows the region will know¬†Carmel and Monterey are only five minutes apart. It is indeed hard to say you have been to one¬†without being to the other. We therefore found ourselves accepting an invitation to dine at¬†Passionfish, one of the regions finest restaurants.

delicious-scallopGliding through the doors on a dusky night, with salt from the ocean still in our manes, the chic¬†atmosphere of Passionfish belied it’s village locale and indeed it’s homey name.

The atmosphere is warm, unobtrusive, neutral, and sleek. Quite a hard juxtaposition to pull off but Passionfish has managed this well. The tables are close, but not too close, and the lighting and sound just right. Lively but muted. This is important as I am guessing this restaurant is sold out every night and it certainly was the Monday night we were there.

Settling in we realized early in this was an adventurous Chef and Owner. Combinations as presented on the menu were fresh and original. Passionfish is knows for its local farmers market ingredients and sustainable seafood. We were especially looking forward to the latter. We were somewhat surprised to not see more fish on the menu however this was soon forgotten as we assailed our dishes.

The first up was the smoked trout ceviche tostaditas, with cashew pesto and salsa brava. This was¬†an interesting and unique dish and I would love to say it was flawless but it wasn’t quite. And that¬†is what infuriated me about Passionfish. With a little more effort, a little reining in of the chef and¬†a little more attention to detail this could easily become one of the most noted restaurants in the¬†United States or California at the least.

The smoked trout and little round home made tostatditas were excellent, as was the cashew pesto in and of itself, however with the too generous addition of salsa brava it was just a tad too spicy to enhance the smoked trout. Rather it drowned the delicate and beautifully balanced smoked trout. Regardless, the Chef was absolutely right in this putting together this adventurous combination and I welcome it produced with a little more finesse.

The Publisher had the shrimp mouselline raviloli, which certainly was an adequate dish and I had¬†the sturgeon. There is something so staunch and British about the sturgeon. A nice solid sounding¬†fish that would last in the stomach through the war time. It reminded me of my dear Mum , may¬†she rest in peace, and my Dad…that stalwart British World War II generation. I was going to have¬†the sturgeon. What a beautiful dish. A little bit naughty as the sturgeon was fried but altogether¬†healthy , served on a wonderful white bean stew and spicy herb relish. The white bean stew was¬†incredible and I wanted to bottle it up and take it home with me. This was comfort food at its¬†finest. It combined the warmth of Southern French or British winter country cooking with its¬†dashing mix of winter vegetables, with a flair for the dramatic from Spain and Latin America due¬†to the warm and hot spices. It was great.

I was more than satisfied. Obviously there was no room for desert after such a dish, but we did order tea and coffee. Again a little finesse,in the after service, such as small cookies, or fresh honey, would have rounded off the evening well and turned it into a superlative affair however it was a wonderful visit and a lively recommendation for any visitor to the region.

dinner nightly from 5pm
701 Lighthouse Ave ‚ÄĘ Pacific Grove ‚ÄĘ CA

Passionfish: This is My Kitchen; This is Our Restaurant from Passionfish on Vimeo.

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