Wow. It's been awhile. I hope this post will make the wait worthwhile.
As a couple we have found a way to manage holidays: every other Christmas (the big holiday in both our families) we visit my folks in Maryland while on alternate Christmases we visit his folks in the Dallas area. This year it was our turn to visit my folks in Maryland. Little did I know the treat my brother and sister-in-law had in mind for us. They got us a gift card and reservations to Volt (http://www.voltrestaurant.com/): Top Chef celeb Bryan Voltaggio's restaurant in Frederick, Maryland. They had warned us not to make plans on December 30, but didn't tell us exactly what was in store.
So, in addition to thanking them one more time for the wonderful gift, here's a pictoral essay on the dining event.
Volt is located in the middle of the Frederick (http://www.cityoffrederick.com/), Maryland historic district. I'm not sure exactly where to start with the history of Frederick, but it was involved in the Civil War and is located between Gettysburg and Antietam.
From the exterior it's actually easy to walk past the restaurant. It blends in with the rest of the old buildings along the same street. However it's in the middle of everything and fits right in.
As you walk in you're greeted at a hostess station. We informed them we had been gifted a reservation, which wasn't quite ready yet. So we were invited to wait in the bar and lounge area, which was absolutely packed with people. Not a few of whom were obvious lounge lizards, who ended up staying there the entire time we were in the restaurant. After some time our drink orders were taken and we were able to look into the kitchen via the closed circuit TV above the bar.
(This pict was taken as we were leaving, hence the nearly empty bar and lounge.)
Before our drinks were ready we were escorted to our table in the main dining room. What a great table. Right by the front window. Gorgeous view of the street and quite a nice table off on its own.
Yes, we were way underdressed. It was cold and I, at least, was freezing my butt off. But the staff didn't bat an eye.
After we were seated our head server for the night came to the table and introduced herself, then explained how things worked. The way reservations work, I found out, is as follows: there are three dining rooms, the main dining room, kitchen dining and the 21 room. The 21 room is for the tasting menu. The kitchen dining room is for a specific kitchen dining experience (which I didn't research). And the main dining room features an ala carte menu offering 4 courses. Our reservation is exactly the one we would have chosen: the main dining room with the ala carte menu.
It was preferred that we order all of our courses at once, at the beginning of the meal. We were then given plenty of time to peruse the menu and make our decisions.
We decided on 3 courses followed by an after dinner port. Which was no problem with the service staff.
The meal started with an amuse bouche of celery root meringue filled with foi gras. A lovely bite that was light and crisp with a creamy center. My spouse hates foi gras but loved this. In addition some in house made bread sticks flavored with sea salt and fennel pollen were served. Crisp and delicious. I love bread and could easily eat 100 of these.
Next bread was brought to the table. There was a selection of 4-5 types. The one I selected each time it was offered was an olive roll. I can't explain why but it hit every aspect that I love about bread. Slightly crispy exterior and foamy interior. Yum! My spouse sampled everything involving bacon and loved every one of them.
First course. I ordered the hamachi sashimi and my spouse ordered the tuna tartar. The hamachi came with blood orange supremes and light greens consisting of seaweed and baby field greens. Everything was light and fresh, and actually paired beautifully with the gin martini with a twist that I started my evening with. My spouse's tuna tartar was delicious and flavorful. It was uniquely presented in a jasmine rice paper that made the entire dish appear to be a sausage. This was accompanied by two preparations of fish roe, avocado mousse and soy air. It all worked beautifully together. The average cost for first course options was around $13 each.
Second course. The kitchen ran out of my first choice so the spouse and I both got the pork belly. It turns out this was a deconstructed and very upscale version of pork fried rice. A poached egg yolk sat perched atop a rice porridge and was accompanied by freeze dried peas, pork cracklings and perfectly roasted pork belly. Well balanced flavors and textures. I would eat this every night, given the choice. The average cost for second course options was around $14 each.
Third course. I followed my first instinct and selected the scallops. And I was very happy for it. Perfectly seared scallops were accompanied by the thinnest shavings of radish, delicate risotto and perfectly roasted chicken. Everything worked beautifully together. My spouse got the beef loin. The beef was perfectly cooked and melt in your mouth tender. The potato and greens accompaniment, though was not to our liking. I believe the spouse even left those on his plate. The average price for third course options was around $31 each.
Fourth course. If we had selected a dessert the average price was around $8. We however selected port. My spouse enjoyed a 35 year old Warres and I enjoyed a 20 year old Tawny. It was a nice way to finish a lovely meal.
At the end of the meal we were brought a plate of miniature mixed sweets. It had a chocolate ganache truffle, a snickerdoodle, a coffee flavored meringue and a passion fruit gelee. Eaten in that order they were a fantastic end to the evening.
After we were finished eating the server presented us with a mini coffee cake to take with us. This reminded me of the cookies French Laundry sends home with its patrons. I thoroughly enjoyed mine on the flight back to Texas.
The entire meal lasted approximately 2 hours.
And before you ask, yes, I was able to meet Bryan Voltaggio. I nearly ran into him on the way to the restroom, literally. He was working in the kitchen in addition to coming to the front and signing books and posing for picts with the patrons. The kitchen was super, super busy.
The decor was very nice without being stuffy. In fact the only thing I would call stuffy would be some (a minority) of the other patrons. The artwork had that Really Cool factor to it. The service was impeccable on every level and was matched by the food and drinks. And while the meal was certainly not cheap, the prices were very reasonable for this quality and presentation of food. I highly recommend Volt for people who enjoy this style of dining.
Reservations are required.
Note: Portions of this were reproduced from my restaurant review on tripadvisor.com. The picts were taken with and uploaded from my phone. Links were not html'd in because I'm having software issues.