So I’ve been suggesting to husband to make reservations at VOLT restaurant in Frederick for a while now – hoping we could get in before one of the Voltaggio brothers wins Top Chef this season — brother Bryan is chef at VOLT (http://www.bravotv.com/top-chef/season-6/bios) (http://www.voltrestaurant.com/). Brunch was booked up, so husband kindly made dinner reservations for Sunday.
We arrived a bit early and sat in the open bar/lounge area of the ‘mansion’ to await our table… Gary wasn’t convinced an entire Sam Adams fit into his fancy glass, though the barman insisted it did… We were seated in the main dining room (in addition there’s the noisy kitchen-view tasting dining room and a glassed-in Chef’s Table) with white linens and coppery brown ceiling – elegant and populated with nearly as many servers and sommelier-types as diners.
We selected three of the four courses from the four course menu including, starting with the beet salad which was the tasiest dish of the night: as Gary put it, 75 cents worth of beets for $12, but they looked very pretty on the huge plate, swirled with tasty oil, a cheese mousse, and tiny green ‘weeds’ and tasted lovely.
Next up was goat cheese ravioli in brown butter — nutty flavor but Gary said too oily. Teeny-tiny scallops (seriously, as big as a dime) atop some sort of nutty grain were overpowered by the grain, and it was hard to tell the flavors of the white, orange and green ‘smears’ of sauces on that plate.
We both selected fish as main plates, with Gary’s striped bass a winner featuring crispy skin and a deep earthy flavor. My slightly rare halibut was a disappointment in comparison. The accompanying hot, puffy dinner rolls in various flavors (from sea salt to bacon) were lovely – we should’ve ordered more!
For dessert I ordered the banana split dish – a ‘deconstruction’ similar to something Bryan made in restaurant wars. It was interesting, but unsatisfying-with nut powders beneath teaspoon size samples of chocolate and vanilla ice creams and a strawberry sorbet that would’ve been great as its own serving in a cone or normal size bowl. There was a strange tofu-like-textured banana ‘mousse’ winding across the plate and a ‘spherical’ maraschino ball that burst when I tried to spoon it up. Gary fared a bit better with his peanut butter and chocolate combination, decorated with organic chocolate and some micro-green cilantro and cilantro powder(!) If was amusing to look around the dining room and watch the other diners eating their tiny servings with great care and precision of fork, most leaning forward and examining the food items thoughtfully while taking itty-bitty bites.
The yummiest dessert came as a complement of the pastry chef, a dish of miniature ice cream sandwiches on various cookies. And the check was delivered hidden beneath two tulle-wrapped citrus/pumpkin muffins, ‘in case you’re still hungry, you can eat them on the way home’ is what the waiter actually said. If you have to hide the check under muffins so folks don’t get upset at the cost while their bellies are still empty, that sums it all up…
It was a pleasant dining experience, and was interesting to taste and see some of the flavors and styles of food that we’ve been seeing on Top Chef, though we both agree that the restaurant across the street — Acacia — offers more flavorful and more satisfying food for Frederick visitors.
Good luck Bryan Voltaggio – we’re still rooting for you!