Thursday, April 14, 2011

Volt - Finally!

Okay so I am finally getting around to blogging about our evening out in Frederick with my friend Lauren and her fiance, Greg.  Volt was incredible!  Totally worth the hour drive to Frederick although maybe my evening was slightly colored by the fact that Jason and I hadn't seen Lauren in ages and it made the dinner that much more fun. (It was our first time meeting Greg - he was great!)  Lauren has been there a bunch of times already so when we decided to finally make the trek up there, she was the one who made the reservations since she knew the "formula" on when to call to make sure we able to get a Saturday evening reservation at a decent time.  Weekend evening reservations are few and far between, especially in the "Chef's Dining Room" where we sat.  And I can understand why - there are only like 4 tables in there and you are right in front of the kitchen. The room is small and you are so close to the action - I loved it!  Here's a photo I took with my phone from our table:

The "bar" you see wrapped around the kitchen area is Table 21.  They have 2 seatings an evening and you get 21 (small) courses.  You can see the famous Chef Brian Voltaggio in the far right of this photo.  In the Chef's Dining room it's a Prix Fixe of 6 courses and you have the choice of the vegetarian tour or the "meat" tour.  (In the regular dining room it's ala carte even though you can get most of the same things.) The four of us chose the "meat" tour.  I don't consider myself much of a meat eater but when I go to a REALLY good restaurant like this, I take the "when in Rome" approach since it's rare that anything they give you will be bad.  (Hence why I've eaten ostrich at Charleston and baby octopus at Cinghale.)

We were started off first with a few amuse-bouche (single bite appetizers) - one was this black pepper "lollipop" with a pineapple marshmallow.  The lollipop part was actually more like ice cream and was sweet, not savory.  It was so random and good!  Then they brought us these 3 little bites of 3 different things.  One was this weird "faux oyster" and it was the only thing that none of us liked.  The other 2 little bites were so good you were sad there wasn't any more!  The servers came around and brought us selections of rolls/breads that just melted in your mouth.

Our first course was a beet, carrot, goat cheese mousse dish.  I've actually never had beets before and this was good.  If I had to rank the dishes this would have been my "least" favorite but that doesn't mean I didn't like it, because I really did.  The others were just so amazing this doesn't even come close.

Next up was the clam "chowder."  It was very frothy and not a huge amount - had these odd noodley things in it and dehydrated bacon.  YUM!!  We all scarfed that down quickly.  The next course was easily my favorite - halibut with blue crab risotto and some other kind of puree that I can't remember now.  O.M.G.  Good.  The halibut couldn't have been any more perfect.  Firm, delicious and with the risotto, heaven on a plate.

The next course was the one I was most unsure of - pork belly - but it turned out to be my second favorite of the night.  The pork had a wonderful flavor and I really liked the texture of it with the beans and sauce. You can kind of see it in this photo but the plate was like a little stage - no edges and just rolled under.  (We never had the same kind of plate twice - they were all so unique and totally like nothing you'd have in your kitchen!)

Next up was the beef course - so tender and good.  And with all these little drips and drops of things to combine it with.  We were all trying to figure out how to get every single bite off of the plate.  This was another cool plate - you can see the little divot where the beef was sitting!

So at this point we figured, well, dessert is next - which for the "meat" tour, was a chocolate dessert.  You can imagine our confusion when we were presented with the dessert of "lavender, coconut, and vanilla."  (I didn't know this at the time, but Chef Brian actually served mine - when a dish comes out, they sit all 4 plates down at the same time which requires a few hands.  He came up from behind us (came from the hallway) and he was the one who put down mine and Jason's dessert.)  We looked at it for a second - looked like a scoop of vanilla ice cream - it was actually some kind of creamy goodness infused with lavender that was flash frozen with liquid nitrogen.  And while I was excited because I'd really wanted to try it, we also wondered what happened to our chocolate dessert.  We also hadn't ordered our coffee yet.  Lauren flagged down a server and without hesitating or even hinting that there had been a mistake he said, "Our compliments!  Your chocolate dessert will be out soon."  WOW!  So we got 7 courses.  (We almost got a 2nd helping of the beet course too but stopped them before they put it down - so clearly this kind of thing happens a lot.  But I can understand why - they are making so many small plates!  I don't know how they stay so organized!)

We made our coffee order and then they brought out our chocolate dessert which consisted of a bunch of different chocolate flavored, different textured yumminess. And while I liked the (2nd) dessert, I am still dreaming off the coffee I had - Highlander Grogg.  They get it from a local coffee shop and I am just in love with it.  It has this wonderful buttery flavor and the smell, well, it makes everyone turn their head.  And to think that I found that you can buy it online!!

The entire dinner took 3 hours!  I couldn't believe it was that long.  The time between the courses was spread out but I think because we were having such a good time catching up with our dinner companions that we barely noticed.  And because they spread it out and the courses are small, you're not busting when you leave although I was pretty full.

The entire restaurant is just beautiful - historic, red brick mansion on the outside and inside a modern designer's dream.  Even the bathrooms are crazy modern!  I can't say enough about what a great time we had and how glad I am that we made the trip.  A big thank you to Lauren for making the reservation - I hope you guys can come to Baltimore for another foodie dinner date soon!

I'm so glad that Jason and I have similar tastes when it comes to really good food.  Dinner menus at home might be hard to come up with sometimes but when it comes to fine dining, we always seem to agree.  Thank goodness! 


Bracken said...

Sounds wonderful!

Lauren said...

I'm so glad that you guys liked Volt so much! That was seriously the best meal we've had there- and we've had quite a few good ones! It was so great to see you and Jason and to hear about the kids. We will definitely come out your way for a foodie date sometime in the near future.
And I love this blog post- you have such a great memory and it was like re-living that meal all over again!