By Tom Sietsema
Sunday, May 20, 2012
Then: Pretty smooth sailing (2008)
Again: Where's the passion?
The fish in the "classic Peruvian" seviche at Passionfish bears faint resemblance to the ocean-fresh appetizer I devoured in Lima last year. Nor does the whole fried flounder resemble the version this titanic seafood restaurant was serving in its early days, when a daisy chain of pickled cucumber actually tasted tangy all the way through.
There's a fleet of hands in the exhibition kitchen, yet too much of the food suffers from neglect. Kung pao calamari, all sweet crunch, goes down uneasily like caramel corn; gloppy Japanese-style rolls appear to be designed for people who don't like sushi.
The seafood venue isn't entirely changed: What looks like a giant trail of bubbles still drops from the soaring ceiling, the servers remain attentive -- and, alas, the cioppino is as wan as ever.
Allow me to throw you a life preserver and suggest some of the menu's buoyant options: Commence with a platter of oysters on the half shell, catch the crab cakes among the daily specials and fit in some warm donut holes. Stick to those and you'll wonder what my fuss is about.
Still, if Passionfish were a ship, it would be listing.
The Food section rated this restaurant's crab cake for a July 2009 story about the area's best.
Chef Chris Clime keeps his crab cakes simple: jumbo-lump meat plus a touch of Old Bay, Tabasco and chives for seasoning. Then he lets his customers dress them up. Add two sides such as french fries, mashed potatoes or asparagus, and dip the flaky, snow-white meat in one of four sauces including Thai curry or beurre blanc, though we're partial to the butter pickle tartar that comes standard on the lunchtime sandwich.
Two 4-ounce jumbo-lump crab cakes, market price (our visit: $26)
(July 29, 2009)