Restaurant Review: Windward Passage
Windward Passage has been around for awhile. It is not retro or vintage, as such terminology usually suggests reproductions. Windward Passage is the real thing, with a history of its own that dates back to 1971.
So, the real thing is dark. Perhaps suspiciously dark. But between the darkness, the woodwork, and the nautical themes, it all works together to suggest that dinner will be served below the deck of a boat. Windward Passage feels old and magical, like something out of a cartoon or a movie.
Appropriate for a nautical themed restaurant, there are tons of fish options on the menu. Appropriate for a restaurant that dates back to the 70s, there’s also cottage cheese offered as a side on that menu.
Crab cakes are available as a starter and priced at $6.50 each. Each one holds an appropriate level of crab, with distinguishable chunks. The appetizer is soft and patty-shaped, in an authentic 70s style.
It suffers in comparison to the uber-crunchy trends in modern dining, so another appetizer such as Devils on Horseback ($9.25) would be a more satisfying throw-back. The latter is a hot sauce-doused appetizer that provides oysters fully encased in a bacon shell that’s fried uber-crisp. You get the crisp, you get the heat, you get the brine, and you get the retro appeal in each lil’ devil.
The Catfish ($14.25) is exemplary. Guests can order it fried, blackened or sautéed. In terms of the blackened style, it is less black and more “oranged,” with a barely-there creole spiced crust. The crust is peppery, and the fish flesh beneath is surprisingly velvety. The kitchen has a way with the catfish that produces an uncommonly delightful texture.
For fish sandwich fans, their house version features a plump, rounded slab of Cod ($8.25) enclosed in a classic crunchy coat. It’s served on a long roll with a leaf of lettuce and tomato.
A significant portion of the menu is devoted to oldschool steakhouse fare. For the straight-steak crew, the New York Strip (8oz for $16.95) is thick-cut and appropriately cooked, but under-seasoned, so the salt that sits table-side should be applied to bring out the flavor.
At the more casual end, the French Dip Sandwich ($9) offers an opportunity to try out the house prime rib, albeit in thin slices. Served with the classic dipping broth, the modest slices of meat tucked inside the bun are tender and more flavorful than the aforementioned steak
Entrees come with a salad replete with a 70s tomato wedge, baked potato, and vegetable. Thankfully, the broccoli option was not prepared in retro-70s-overcooked style. It’s vibrant green and seasoned just enough to keep things interesting.
Service is no-nonsense. There’s no fawning, just competent professionals with degrees in TCB (taking care of business). Windward Passage is also well-populated. It’s clearly not a secret, but rather a beloved haven for those who have grown weary of modern dining trends.
You can find it at 4739 Reed Rd. It’s open for lunch and dinner weekdays. On Saturdays, it’s dinner only, and the restaurant is closed on Sundays.