Jump to content
baczkowski

Volt, on Market Street in Frederick - Chef Bryan Voltaggio comes from Charlie Palmer Steak

Recommended Posts

Serendipity led me to Bryan Voltaggio's blogfor his upcoming restaurant Volt in Frederick, MD. It appears that they are targeting mid-July for an opening date. I only had lunch once at Charlie Palmer's when Voltaggio was there and my friend and I had a very good meal, but nothing exciting. I have to say, though, that his blog makes me excited for Frederick. They need this place, so I hope they support him. Check out the cheese they're planning on using! Someone needs to give the Tasting Room a kick in their ass b/c I think they became complacent a while ago.

If you go to page twoof the blog entries you can see a video of the space post-demo and pre-construction. It was neat to see the inside of the bay window that I longed to be part of my apartment; looks like it'll be used as a private party room for 10 people. In general, it looks like this place will be small. The video said the restaurant will seat 38! They'll have to have a pretty high price point to pay for the real estate and renovations to this place on top of the high quality of ingredients and staffing I'm sure he has planned. The Tasting Room thrives b/c the swanky fishbowl environment draws in the trendy drinkers who like to be seen. Volt won't have that to fall back on. They'll just have to knock folks' socks off with damn good cooking in a cool, seemingly more quiet atmosphere. Best of luck to them and I look forward to making the trip back up 270.

ETA: Looks like the total capacity is more like 100.

Pax,
Brian

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Frederick is really lucky to be getting this place.

Having toured it personally, I can definitely say it is NOT a small space. It's broken out into several rooms that will be designated as a bar/lounge, main restaurant, and two spaces that can be used for private dining or as part of the main restaurant's seating. If you've seen the building, you know it's not small, and Volt is taking over the entire ground level.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I know it's only been open a very short time, but was just wondering if anyone has been to Volt? If so, what was your experience? Thanks!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I know it's only been open a very short time, but was just wondering if anyone has been to Volt? If so, what was your experience? Thanks!

Not me. I tried to go to lunch last week b/c I was in Frederick for the the day but they don't start serving lunch until August 19. I stopped by the place and it looks sleek. Folks may also appreciate knowing that they are on Open Table.

Pax,

Brian

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Not me. I tried to go to lunch last week b/c I was in Frederick for the the day but they don't start serving lunch until August 19. I stopped by the place and it looks sleek. Folks may also appreciate knowing that they are on Open Table.

Pax,

Brian

OH how I WISH we could get a group to go!! I made reservations for 6 people at the chef's table for last Saturday night - but couldn't find anyone willing to fork over the dough to go. So, sadly, we cancelled. Wah.....

It would be very fun to get some folks who love to dine out to make the trek up here to Frederick to try Volt with us!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Put me down, id love to try it. I live out in Winchester, VA so it isnt a bad drive at all for me.

Daniel

OH how I WISH we could get a group to go!! I made reservations for 6 people at the chef's table for last Saturday night - but couldn't find anyone willing to fork over the dough to go. So, sadly, we cancelled. Wah.....

It would be very fun to get some folks who love to dine out to make the trek up here to Frederick to try Volt with us!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The wife and I went last night. The verdict? Fantastic

They started us with an amuse of halibut ceviche that was nicely balanced and not overly acidic. We chose the a la carte menu.

Starters:

Cold corn soup - a very refreshing corn soup with lemongrass and hearts of palm

Corn ravioli - tender ravioli with morels. I think that this was my favorite dish all night.

Mains:

Bronzino with spinach and roasted potatoes - a fillet of bronzino, the skin was nice and crispy and the potatoes had a wonderful roasted, earthy flavor

Angus Strip - The strip, which seemed to be cold-smoked was tender and full of rich, beefy flavor. By the look of it, it had been cooked sous-vide and then seared.

We shared cheesecake for dessert. The cheesecake was made with a mild chevre from Cherry Glen farms and came with poached pluots and tangy yogurt sherbet. It was very good.

The service was spot-on; attentive without being intrusive. We parked no more than 30 feet from the front door and do I have to mention that it is free after 5pm? Of course, being Frederick, there are no driving hassles.

This place is a gem that I'm definitely putting into the rotation.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Funny, I was there last night too, in the bar, having some snacks and drinks with a friend. Snacks rapidly turned into dinner.

I cannot overemphasize how great the food is--far and away better than anything else I've eaten in the greater Frederick area. The service is also fantastic, surprisingly so. Everybody had informed opinions and understood how the food was prepared, and they were eager to please. Try to talk to sommelier Aaron Schifferle if you get a chance, he's deeply intelligent and inquisitive about all things food- and wine-related. I am sorry we didn't sit in the chef's tasting room, because the kitchen is beautiful to behold and I'd really enjoy watching Chef Bryan Voltaggio cook.

Some highlights: the pressed watermelon cube with vanilla salt and salmon roe taste, a richly-flavored hanger steak cooked blue and sprinkled with Maldon sea salt, tuna tartare with a yuzu reduction, lotus chips and sesame lavosh, the chocolate-hazelnut dessert with raw cacao and little callets of frozen hazelnut ice cream, canteloupe soup with panna cotta and blackberry sorbet.

The bar menu is short but creative and very reasonably priced. I'll be back for the full treatment once I save enough of my pennies for the experience.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Bryan Voltaggio has enormous balls the size of the Frederick Fair’s ferris wheel and he’s swinging them around trying to smack the face of every diner in a 45 mile radius in attempt to say, “Look at us! Look at Frederick! You want a piece of this?!?” The bold will step to the challenge, make the journey, and leave dazed but rewarded. My only fear, though, is that some locals may walk away brooding with a black eye.

It’s clear when you walk through the threshold of this renovated Victorian mansion that you’re going to get something different than what you’re used to in Frederick. Similar to Voltaggio’s old stomping grounds at Charlie Palmer’s, Modern design rules in the four dining areas: a dark, sleek bar and lounge; a glass-enclosed private dining room of a converted solarium; a straight-line dominated main dining room softened by the room’s creams; and a vibrant, energy-filled chef’s table that seats 12 at amongst several tables. The only place like it that I’ve been to in Maryland is Baltimore’s Charleston. But we’re still in Frederick. Which is why I think they’ve chosen to put the servers in tie-less brown suits and, yes, brown Chucks. Like them or not, I think these game-gummies manage to add some informality (if not a sense of humor) to a restaurant that is far more formal than anything else Frederick has to offer. The space makes a statement, whether the diners want to hear the message or not: We’re not dialing anything back just because we’re in Frederick.

The menu strongly echoes that statement but its reverberations aren’t without the occasional hollow sound. Braised halibut cheek? In Frederick? Why not? And the execution almost dispels the disbelief. The attractively presented appetizer chunk of cheek is tasty and flavorful but partially overcooked. Parts of the same cut are pleasantly moist while others are borderline dry. If they get the cooking time right, this dish is a winner. Another winner with some reservations is the white corn soup with lemongrass and hearts of palm. The flavors here are exciting and fresh, but many Fredericktonians may ask for some saltines b/c the four small hearts of palm aren’t satisfying enough and the broth barely covered the bottom of the bowl. Most people will want more for $10 even though they will enjoy what they do get. The tuna tartare is composed of a commanding mound of diced yellowfin tuna that is remarkably fresh and smooth though the touch of acidic sauce on the bowl’s bottom could be more assertive to make this more than just an incredible pile of tuna; the accompanying sea salt and sesame crisps add some crunchy texture to the dish though the 6-8 crisps far outlast the generous portion of tuna. If dishes’ looks and diners’ sounds are informative, two other appetizers appeared flawless. The tomato salad was a work of art and the ravioli supposedly was rewardingly rich. Despite missing perfection on all dishes, these appetizers manifest the restaurant’s two strengths that carried through the meal: artistry in presentation and unmatchably fresh ingredients.

For entrees, the four of use split between land and sea. I ordered the lamb which arrived as four juicy chunks cooked to medium (I requested medium-rare) and an amazing lamb sausage that stole the show; I’d recommend adding the sausage to the bar menu so more people can enjoy it. I enjoyed the dish but was more impressed with the fish dishes. My wife ordered the arctic char that was prepared to a point of JUST cooked that I presume it was prepared sous-vide. The fish was so moist that it was smooth and the skin paired with a crisp, but I just wonder how many times this dish gets sent back as undercooked. Personally, I loved it. My friend’s branzino filet looked equally moist but not noticeably slow-cooked and enjoyable. He enjoys fish and said he would come back just to try more fish dishes. His date ordered the strip that was served pre-sliced and cooked medium (the waitress never asked how she would like it prepared and my dining partner never asserted her preference). She said she enjoyed it but it was cooked too much for my taste. Since Voltaggio came from Charlie Palmer’s, I would have expected a little more visually impressive dish, but I didn’t taste it so I shouldn’t really judge it. Regardless, the clear strengths on these dishes were exceptional ingredients and beautiful presentation.

There’s another strength that stood out to me as I reflected on the night: the baker. I loved those sesame crisps, the bacon brioche and french rolls were moan-worthy, and the complimentary cookies and candies served before the check and in the take-away box were enticing exclamation points to the meal that convinced me to return—and order dessert next time.

I don’t feel confident talking about the beverage service but the sommelier recommended a wonderful Riesling and my wife’s “new-fashioned” wasn’t worth ordering again only because it was so good that you’d want to try what else they’re whipping up.

I left impressed. I was proud for my old town of Frederick. No way would I have guessed that something this haute, this chic would arrive this “early.” In an attempt to raise the bar in his hometown, Voltaggio has merged uncompromised, big-city, DC dining with historic architecture and local Frederick ingredients. . It’s not perfect, but it’s better than the 2-star peak that the Tasting Room reached several years ago. I just hope my former neighbors understand what they have. Though the couple we dined with enjoyed the meal and were leading our discussion in its design, I think they left more stunned than impressed. Big balls can do that.

Pax,

Brian

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

They charge $1 for unlimited filtered water, sparkling or still. They have a Natura filtration system in-house. The last time I was there, there was a notation on the menu to this effect, but there was no verbal acknowledgement when we were offered water. I don't remember being offered ordinary tap water, but I didn't ask for it either. I like the Natura water, and $1 is pretty cheap for all the filtered water I desire.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In a word: excellent.

Once again I have failed to capture complete descriptions of any of the dishes but if our seven-course tasting dinner last night was any indication, not only is Volt very good, it's worth the trip. This has to be the best restaurant within 25 miles, playing at a level never achieved by Antrim, Monocacy Crossing or Tasting Room, and ranks with Corduroy as one of the new (or re-invented) places that has impressed me the most this year. I just hope they can find an audience of sufficient size in this location.

Voltaggio's current menu steers away from the extreme edges of the Modern American channel, neither obsessed with textural extremes nor a particular exotic flavor, but rather emphasizing flawless execution of the fundamentals even in the more creative dishes. I hope this is a level they are able to consistently maintain. Where high-tech makes an appearance, it's integrated into the dish, and not the star of the show. Foams enhance several dishes, and his spin on the "Kit-Kat bar" is further embellished by those callets that Malawry writes about upthread: broad flat buttons which appear to have been formed on an antigriddle.

The seared scallop on a shiitake sauce goes on my personal list of top dishes from last year. As does the lamb served two ways - pulled shoulder integrated into a homemade granola round, and two juicy slices of a flawlessly-prepared loin. None of our party registered any bad dishes, but we weren't that crazy about the carrot velouté with cheese "croutons", arguably the weakest of the evening. The salsify purée in the opening trio also registered a slightly surprising level of ground pepper.

Schifferle no longer appears on the bio section of the website. Our wine service was deftly provided by Neil Dundee, another Frederick native and formerly the sommelier and beverage director of Wolfang Puck's Atlantic City operation. His pairings played well and at least nodded toward a classic bent: an opening flute of champagne, an albariño, a grüner veltliner, a Médoc. The principal New World contributions were a Willamette pinot gris, a Flying Dog Tire Bite ale, and (by accident) an Talijancich "Solero" from Australia.

Instead of a single chef's table there's a Chef's Dining Room adjoining the kitchen that holds four or five four-tops. Across the hall we peered through the doors of the 12-seat Conservatory room, an intriguing space reserved for private dining. We dined at a leisurely pace, finishing in a little over 2.5 hours. Portion sizes seemed about perfect to me; we left feeling very satisfied instead of overstuffed. The menu is said to be changing almost daily, so I have high hopes for our next visit.

A couple of pics later, if I get around to it. Also, one of Voltaggio's creations graces the cover of this year's DC Chefs magazine (just out) and they were proudly handing out copies.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
In a word: excellent.

Dave,

Thanks for being just the impetus I needed to get through my writer's block.

I went to Volt last Sunday, and "excellent" doesn't seem quite strong enough for the meal I had.

Rather than detail all the courses, I'll just say this:

To my knowledge, Volt is the best restaurant in Maryland. (However, I've only dined at Charleston once, two years ago, and I'm not confident comparing the two.)

Other than the Tasting Room at Eve, and perhaps a great day at 2941, Volt is the best restaurant within a ninety-minute drive of the Washington, DC city limits. If you remove Inn at Little Washington from the equation, you might have to drive to Philadelphia to find a better restaurant.

Volt is absolutely worth a drive to Frederick - and it's open on Sundays for dinner.

Congratulations to Bryan Voltaggio for opening Volt - a great restaurant.

Cheers,

Rocks.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I went to Volt last Sunday, and "excellent" doesn't seem quite strong enough for the meal I had.

I'm equivocal for a few reasons: I'm a little under the weather at the moment, I haven't been to Charleston yet (hence my limited radius), and another table in the room was occupied by four of Dundee's former co-workers from Wolfgang Puck working their way through the same menu about 30 minutes ahead of us. I'd like to see if it's this good on any given night. If I may borrow Don's outside-the-city landmarks, right now I'd choose Volt over TR at Eve (Armstrong's sweetbreads are better, but Voltaggio favors a lighter palate weight which I find more pleasing), and handily over 2941 under Chemel which has been inconsistent for me. It was better (and less expensive) than the tasting we completed at Teatro Goldoni two weeks ago, and even better than tasting we had at Manresa last year which was exquisitely prepared but dotted with unsuccessful flavor pairings.

Let me add two more points of view. Gubeen thought it ranked among the best meals she's had in the US, especially for a restaurant that does not rely on ultra-luxe ingredients. Our other tablemate compared it to Bouley in the early '90s. Enough said.

ETA: I completely neglected to mention that Volt offers a five-course vegetarian tasting menu in the Chef's Dining Room as a regular selection in addition to the omnivorous choices, and not as an afterthought.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sign of the times: for the time being, Volt is also taking Tuesdays off.

That should not discourage you from trying the Express Lunch, on offer from noon until 4pm in the bar area during the workweek (currently Wed-Fri). The format is Lickety Split-esque: any three items on their Express menu for $14. Additional items may be added for $5 each. There are eight seats at the bar, and the lounge area accommodates about ten more around a communal coffee table.

Unless you indicate a particular sequence, the kitchen customarily drops everything at once. I probably should have asked for the salad course first, but because I have no compunction about letting mains sit while tucking into a side dish, I started on my sea salt and vinegar fries with garlic aioli first. Fries, you see, don't like to be kept waiting, and these were too good to ignore anyway. I moved to my frisée salad, with lardons, crisp shallot, and a poached egg next...pretty good, but no match for Eve's sinful Bacon, Egg and Cheese salad. If only these lardons were a bit more...prominent and bacony :P (To be fair, Eve's only offering you two items for similar money.) Lastly I hit the house cured and smoked pastrami on a soft fennel roll. Extracting a strip or two from the interior revealed a tender and well-striated pastrami with delicious fatty bits, but the cure is mild, and more importantly the modest portion of meat is overwhelmed by the buttery flavor of the roll. This is a dainty sandwich with a decidedly non-deli personality. I can't say that I personally like the idea of a pastrami sandwich that doesn't showcase the pastrami; as proud as they are of their breads, I'd love to see this done up with a plainer roll and more pastrami.

Despite that criticism, the quality of execution was first-rate and service was charming. It's really a crime that there were only four people lunching when I showed up. I'll be back, and soon.

post-710-1232165052_thumb.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
To my knowledge, Volt is the best restaurant in Maryland. (However, I've only dined at Charleston once, two years ago, and I'm not confident comparing the two.)

I have a few Charleston experiences and only one Volt dinner. But, based on my experiences, I'm not sure I'd agree with your instincts, though I'd love to dine at either place. Both offer amazing experiences. I'd give the nod to Charleston based on service, food (just in terms of ambition, not ingredients or execution), and wine (though Volt's wine list is great). But the two satisfy differnet niches (Volt hits a slightly lower price point) and aren't anywhere near one another, so it really isn't a competition.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

First visit to Volt for lunch today. They have a Restaurant Week menu and will continue to offer it at lunch for another few weeks. Echoing what others have written, this is a special place. The ambiance is elegant without being stuffy, the service friendly and efficient and our food was delicious and innovative without being "far out." They're offering a wine paring for an additional $15 which we took advantage of and were very happy with. Check it out!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
First visit to Volt for lunch today. They have a Restaurant Week menu and will continue to offer it at lunch for another few weeks. Echoing what others have written, this is a special place. The ambiance is elegant without being stuffy, the service friendly and efficient and our food was delicious and innovative without being "far out." They're offering a wine paring for an additional $15 which we took advantage of and were very happy with. Check it out!

Um... say hi next time? Strangely enough, I was also at Volt and enjoyed the wine-paired restaurant week lunch offering today.

What a slickly-designed restaurant, with cool private spaces and great art choices. We sat near the open kitchen that looks out onto 16-20 seats, a small enclosed space that surely houses a chef's table at dinner.

Some of Volt was funky -- the servers wear brown low-cut chuck taylors and the hardware choices in the bathrooms (bulky sliding doors? a 3/4 glass wall separating the ladies room?) were, ah, not traditional.

The food is fantastic. That's the most important bit. There were no misses on the restaurant week menu. The dishes were beautifully composed and executed. $20 for 3 courses felt like robbery. If pressed for a favorite, I'd have to sheepishly admit to the tuna tartar. Overdone, cliche, hurl whatever stones you want. The housemade crackers, the wasabi "caviar", the smear of avocado, this was a wonderful dish, as good as I've had and it's a dish that everyone takes a crack at.

If you combine a meal at Volt with a brewery tour at the Flying Dog brewery, well, you'll have a hell of a Saturday in Frederick. I just did.

Alex

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Even though I had a great experience last week at Eve's Lickity Split lunch, I don't think there is a better dining deal--regardless of meal--in the DC area than the super-extended Restaurant Week lunch deal at Volt. For $20.09 each, a friend and myself had 3 courses of amazingly complex dishes that did not sacrifice taste for dazzle (though there clearly was molecular gastonomy in my intensified oyster bisque and art held an important priority in the presentation of my apple dessert). The lunch service is also surprisingly as detailed as their formal dinner service. Anyone who has any flexibility in their weekly schedules should make this a priority for their lunch plans. You will leave with no regrets. And, yes, don't worry about a charge if you choose the sparkling water.

Pax,

Brian

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Even though I had a great experience last week at Eve's Lickity Split lunch, I don't think there is a better dining deal--regardless of meal--in the DC area than the super-extended Restaurant Week lunch deal at Volt. For $20.09 each, a friend and myself had 3 courses of amazingly complex dishes that did not sacrifice taste for dazzle (though there clearly was molecular gastonomy in my intensified oyster bisque and art held an important priority in the presentation of my apple dessert). The lunch service is also surprisingly as detailed as their formal dinner service. Anyone who has any flexibility in their weekly schedules should make this a priority for their lunch plans. You will leave with no regrets. And, yes, don't worry about a charge if you choose the sparkling water.

Pax,

Brian

I didn't realize that they had extended the deal. We went for dinner during Restaurant Week and were wild about the food and the wine pairings. Thanks for the tip..

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We went to try out Volt's 21 course tasting yesterday. Here are the courses in order:

post-2-124733310015_thumb.jpg

#1 Chocolate Cake - sweet and strong, not my cup o' tea but so my wife happily sucked down two glasses

post-2-124733343566_thumb.jpg

#2 Chips & Dip - in this case, dyhydrated prosciutto is dipped in potato foam (betcha can't eat just one!, but there aren't more than 2 per person :D )

post-2-124733344414_thumb.jpg

#3 Peas and Carrots - with lavender air, the peas are not solid but pea soup in capsules

post-2-124733344988_thumb.jpg

#4 Ruby Beet Macaron - filled with cream of foie gras, very nice!

post-2-12473334579_thumb.jpg

#5 Sweet Corn Ice Cream with Shad Roe - the shad roe was quite fishy as expected which did not seem to go well with the ice cream, but that's just our personal opinion

post-2-124733346475_thumb.jpg

#6 Chicharron with Cotton Candy and Curry Salt - it's a pork rind stick but oh so good.

post-2-124733347158_thumb.jpg

#7 Yellowfin Tuna Avocado Wasabi Roe Soy Foam - this tastes like a piece of tuna sashimi after dipping it into soy sauce mixed with wasabi - pretty amazing stuff.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

post-2-124733433216_thumb.jpg

#8 Liquid Nitrogen Gazpacho with Cumin Foam - like a gazpacho sorbet

post-2-124733433324_thumb.jpg

#9 Bibb Salad - lettuce granitee, dehyrated bacon, blue cheese mousse, and [wine dressing in capsule (?)]

Things up to this point were pretty wild, not as wild as Minibar but not too far from it. It reminded me of Alinea - certainly creative and on the cutting edge but well conceived.

post-2-1247334334_thumb.jpg

#10 Halibut - with crab meat and asparagus in risotto. This is the first main course. The fish was beautifully seared and well seasoned but I did not like the vanilla flavored sauce. There were small chunks of crab meat and asparagus in the risotto which was cooked al dente. I could see the crab and the asparagus but I could not taste them.

post-2-124733433462_thumb.jpg

#11 Stripe Bass with Artichoke Heart - the fish had the skin on which imparted some fishiness which offended my wife (she doesn't eat chicken skin either :D )

post-2-124733433548_thumb.jpg

#12 Onion Soup - with clear noodles, frozen foie gras powder and celery leaves - this just didn't do much for me, the noodles were flavorless, everything was serve at room temperature so it was a bit odd

post-2-124733433621_thumb.jpg

#13 Tempura Sweetbread - there was some veal jus, some calamata olive puree, some other spices. I loved the tempura itself and I mostly ate it with the veal jus (and pureed olives were also quite nice). I was frankly confused by the myriad of options that could accompany a small morsel of sweetbread.

post-2-124733433702_thumb.jpg

#14 Goat Sausage with Broccolini - tastes like sausage but looks like a filet....wonders never cease

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...