Saturday, May 30, 2009

I call Shotgun! Part 2: Carmel by the Sea and Passionfish

We reached Carmel late on Saturday afternoon with plenty of time to check in at the Wayside Inn (on 7th and Mission St.) before dinner. Researching accommodations flusters me—there are too many options—so my boyfriend gallantly found this place for us. Only a few steps from the shops along Ocean Avenue, the Wayside Inn is a small French country style Bed & Breakfast, and our room was extra Frenchified with chicken toile wallpaper, a fireplace, and balcony. It was also relatively affordable, especially for Memorial Day weekend. Having a complimentary continental breakfast delivered to our door every morning cut down on meal costs, which was almost unfortunate since the breakfast places in Carmel looked really good.

I had dinner reservations at Passionfish in nearby Pacific Grove, which was not only recommended by George, but had Yelp and Chowhound reviews like “this was the best dining experience I’ve ever had in my life.” There were around 25 equally ecstatic reviews, all of which I had read, that sent my expectations sky high.
How to put this delicately…it was ok. I know I’m damning it with faint praise, but when I think of my top five* dining experiences, Passionfish-with all of its good, earth-friendly intentions-doesn’t come close to them. The wine list was extensive and fairly priced, but not cheap. The portions were small, which for me was great since I’m on a diet until Kauai, but one crabcake is a meager appetizer even under those circumstances. It was a very fat and crabby cake, full of seafood and nicely done. I ordered the Moroccan spiced chickpea soup to start, which was an interesting concept, but the flavor quickly became monotonous and the slim film of oil was unappetizing enough for me to put down my spoon halfway through. However, my scallop entrĂ©e did have four perfectly cooked melt-in-your-mouth scallops. Understand- nothing was bad. But after having read pages of rapturous reviews, I was expecting fishy Fireworks. I would still recommend it to anyone in the area- the ambience was lovely and the service was impeccable. Passionfish’s location is another undeniable draw: it is surrounded by a charming community of Victorian homes and shops, and the nearby side streets invite evening walks.

701 Lighthouse Avenue, Pacific Grove

*If you’re curious, my top five dining experiences are: Ballard Inn in Ballard, Flemings Steak House in El Segundo, Epiphany in Santa Barbara, and The Summit House in Fullerton. Other contenders are Kemosabe in San Diego, George’s at the Cove and the Marine Room in La Jolla, and Rules restaurant in London.

1 comment:

Jessi said...

Ooh, I'm happy to hear that the Ballard Inn makes your Top 5 dining experiences :D I also loved it (and you know how picky I am, hah!)^^