11960 Democracy Drive
Reston, VA 20190
CUISINE Modern American, Seafood, Sushi
PRICE $$$ ($21-$30)
HOURS Open for lunch and dinner daily.
NVM AWARDS Best Restaurant 2010
Best New Restaurant 2009
Best Restaurant 2011
Best Restaurant 2012
NEARBY METRO None
By Warren Rojas
Food: 8.2 Ambiance: 8.4 Service: 8.3
“If word got out that you left here with even a little bit of room, I’d get in so much trouble,” the devilish PassionFish waitress joked as she delivered a deathblow nibble of nut-packed fudge.
Allow me: Local food hack killed by kindness. Nary a tear shed.
Customer service is clearly a top priority here. Nobody bats an eyelash when guests stroll in wearing Hawaiian shirts and flip flops (cowabunga, sir). Hell, they even dispense quickie cures sans outrageous co-pays (bartender came to my rescue with an angostura bitters potion when indigestion threatened to derail one visit).
A sea of celery, tomatoes, onion and zesty crawfish besiege a tower of long-grain rice.
Butter-brushed crab meat adorns a deep-fried compatriot nestled in golden corn and okra relish.
Mousse-like capuccino cream adds insta-pep to winsome doughnut holes.(November 2009)
By Warren Rojas
Food: 7.7 Ambiance: 8.2 Service: 7.9
Fresh seafood and unqualified fun appear to have found a welcome home at Reston’s PassionFish.
The striking, two-tiered dining room—awash in oceanic blues, gleaming metals and wall-to-wall glass—is a compelling lure for fine-dining aficionados. And the addition of rotating lunch specials and a bar happy hour has cleared the way for bargain hunters.
Now, I’d just like to see some consistency from chef Chris Clime’s kitchen.
“You can just close your eyes and point to one,” a barkeep said of sushi chef No Won Park’s handmade rolls. Then why was I scrambling for the soy sauce after biting into the dull emerald roll (shrimp/crab salad filling was OK, pickled cucumber fizzled)?
Chicken Paillard gets the farm-to-table treatment via a sunny side-up egg left to cook on an expertly grilled chicken breast (pepper, salt and sear marks all accounted for).
A shrimp-and-grits platter is superlative, revealing a zesty roux composed of the so-called Cajun trinity (diced bell pepper, celery and onion) plus matchsticks of Tasso ham and a generous dusting of freshly cracked black pepper (spice to spare).(May 2009)
By Warren Rojas
There’s no arguing with PassionFish’s burgeoning success (packed to the gills, steady foot traffic).
But as a dining critic, nitpicking is still my wont.
The sleek seafood purveyor transports patrons to an underwater wonderland characterized by a wave-like bar, effervescent light fixtures and ice-covered marine delicacies. Too bad the ongoing condominiumification of Reston thrusts guests back into the real world (construction projects mar the view).
Staff are bright (cycle through specials with ease), bubbly (big smiles, infectious enthusiasm) and, at times, painfully honest.
“I don’t eat oysters, so I’m not the best person to ask,” bar manager Christopher Wells sheepishly admits when I inquire about the daily raw bar specials (though he later amends his statement to heap praise on their po’boy).
Chilled yellowtail piggybacks on fresh grapefruit, which is then doused in balsamic and crowned with raw jalapeno (citric base, fiery crunch, wriggly protein creep into every bite). The veneer of cloying soy draped across the so-called Angry Chef roll (smoked eel, avocado, sweet glaze) bumped heads with the title (maybe switch it to the Kiss-and-Make-Up roll?).
Elsewhere, big briny oysters receive a welcome jolt from a homemade blend of red wine vinegar, raw onion and minced garlic.