Certain restaurateurs make swift copies of their successful ventures, but not so Jeff Tunks. The Passion Food Hospitality chef opened Reston’s flagship PassionFish in 2008, and waited until now to open a seafood-centric sibling, searching for the right space and market with partners David Wizenberg and Gus DiMillo; the group is also behind DC Coast, Fuego Cocina, and more. The 150-seat Bethesda Row dining room opens at lunchtime on Monday inside the Darcy, a luxury condo development.
Sushi chef Jonathan Goh was brought on for the Maryland location, having formerly worked as the lead toque at Colorado’s Hooked, as well as Nobu in Miami. Diners will find an array of new rolls at lunch and dinner that go beyond the ubiquitous California, including smoked hamachi with truffled sweet soy; crispy rock shrimp with tuna, mango, and avocado; and a chili-spiked ceviche roll with chipotle-lime sauce. Sashimi fans can opt for daily-changing chirashi bowls, filled with rice, salad, and fresh fish, and opt for wasabi grated to-order.
Apart from a few menu variances, the two PassionFish restaurants share the same focus: seasonal and sustainably-sourced seafood. Longtime executive chef Chris Clime deftly spans the globe, offering ceviches and fried Ipswich clams, Chinese-style smoked lobster and Thai red curry with shrimp. The health-minded can start out at the raw bar—or caviar service for a splurge—and pick from a selection of of simply-grilled fish seasoned with lemon, olive oil, and sea salt. A children’s menu is also available with $7 dishes for young fish fans, as well kid-pleasers like grilled cheese or pasta.
During the opening weeks guests can make reservations (or walk-in) for lunch and dinner, or head to the 42-seat bar for a Prosecco spritzer. Happy hour is offered in the lounge area, where bar snacks, cocktails, beer, and wine go for $5. Weekend brunch is slated to begin in October.
PassionFish Bethesda. 7187 Woodmont Ave., Bethesda; 301-358-6116. Open for lunch: Monday through Friday, 11:30 to 2:30. Dinner: Monday through Thursday, 5:30 to 10; Friday 5:30 to 11; Saturday 5 to 11; Sunday 5 to 10.