Volt- Frederick, MD

Volt Beet foie gras

Volt- Frederick, MD

We’ve been to Volt twice now, once for the regular menu, and once for their Table 21 seating. Table 21 is a 21 course tasting menu with special 8 person counter seating around the Volt kitchen. Upon entering the historic row house, you are escorted to the bar and lounge area to the left. There you will find a television displaying all the action going on in the kitchen. Yes, it’s prep work, but I find that soothing after spending my youth in the restaurant industry. I’ve actually never tried their cocktails either of my trips. It was summer both times and I prefer to start those evenings with a good Sancerre. I’m not sure if it was our timing or if it’s something they just do, but about a drink later, they will escort you to your table. When we sat in the regular dining area, it was just the two of us, so we were seated at a booth/chair combo table. For Table 21, our dining party was a foursome and we were seated at the counter with a few other couples. The bread and butter is absolutely spectacular. The butter is from Vermont Butter & Cheese Company. Oh, I could eat the butter plain with a spoon. It’s just butter, but it’s the best darn butter I’ve ever tasted…salty, creamy, and spreadable.

The wait staff has a signature look with all black clothing paired with classic Chuck Taylors. Chef Bryan Voltaggio grew up in our era. It makes me wonder if he had both a knock around pair of Chucks as well as the “good pair” for the mall and dates! At any rate, that kind of playfulness is something we appreciate…and nothing detracted from the professional demeanor of the staff.

Table 21 was in our first handful of tasting menus. It was the last one in that handful, which was probably a disadvantage. Tasting menus are normally double digit and there is something to be said for timing in that kind of situation. You don’t want to lose your audience half way through by waiting on the next course. With Table 21, you are at the mercy of everyone else at the table. It’s like that at Minibar, and other tasting course restaurants. Not usually a big deal as the bites are small enough for everyone to keep up. Unless of course, someone at your seating falls asleep at the table. Such was the case for us. Out of the 8 people seated at the kitchen viewing counter, 6 of us kept up the pace. A couple walked in late and had obviously been drinking previously. We were slightly past the halfway mark of our 21 courses when her head hit the lap of her accompanying gentleman. Clearly this was something the chefs hadn’t seen before, and they very coolly monitored the situation. She would wake up, take a bite and sip of wine, then her eyes would close again. It was excruciating to watch. These portions are not meant to sit around in a plate. They are fresh and made to be consumed with placed in front of you. The staff came up with the idea that they could skip over a few courses in order to catch them back up to the rest of us. Well, that was the wrong move. The woman had a hissy fit when she became aware and demanded all of her courses, at the expense of 6 other’s time. About four hours later, the 6 of us finally finished the meal with the chef’s still working on the last couple’s dishes. I felt bad for the staff. I felt worse for us and our hour long drive home. Our experience was the exception to the rule, but it is useful to know that it can happen and some people just have no respect for others around them. It was really no fault of the chefs or the staff, as this was something no one had really ever dealt with before. It shouldn’t detract from the food, but in a way, it has deterred us from choosing the Table 21 seating again. The food was phenomenal. There was literally nothing bad you could even remotely have to say about any of the 21 courses. It was a pleasure to roll them around my mouth and put them in my belly. Give credit where credit is due: these guys could show members of the Top 50 Restaurant list a thing or two.

For regular dining, there is a six course tasting menu as well as a la carte items to choose from. For those of you that eat out to enjoy true culinary talent, this is the spot to be. Everything is made with great care and calculation…right down to the dressing on the salad. The menu changes often, but you can tell that whatever you eat there will be stunningly good.

Table 21 Menu:

Chips and dip -anchovy, lobster, and Greek yogurt

Beet foie gras with citrus

Mock oyster salsify with oyster leaf, malt vinegar

Kampachi blood orange- fennel, yuzu, ginger

Celeriac nasturtium -mustard, ruby grapefruit

Buratta kale -hazelnuts, lemon

Ravioli -black trumpet mushrooms, ash, parsley root

Kimchee daikon radish -chicken thigh, quail egg

Turbot butternut squash -faro, Brussels sprouts

Sturgeon toasted barley -broccoli, lemon pith

Lobster black forbidden rice -coconut, madras curry

Venison -horseradish, apple, hen egg

Sweetbreads -bacon, sun chokes, black kale

Foie gras -beet, fennel hazelnut brioche

Salsify quince- hazelnuts, country ham

Lamb – golden raisin, chickpea, onion

Beef -baby chard, potatoes, and gold ball turnips

Banana -black sesame, coconut, pineapple

Parsnips -cream cheese, walnut, and caramel

Chocolate marshmallow, peanut, caramel

Chocolates candies and macaroons

 

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