March 5, 2019
Wow, Happy Tuesday, and March 5th already! I don't know about you but I feel we need to eek out a few more weeks until we are completely out of the winter weather funk. What is exciting is the fact that we turn the clocks back this coming Sunday! Doesn't it just feel a whole lot better when it is daylight past 7:00 pm?!?! That much closer to the warmer months, for sure!
Today on the blog, I wanted to recap an AMAZING culinary experience I was so fortunate to experience this past weekend. I have been wanting to check out this restaurant since its debut in August of 2008 - in fact, it was a couple month (if not longer) wait to get a reservation back in the day.
Located in beautiful historic Frederick County, Maryland, and less than 50 miles from Washington, D.C, Leesburg, Annapolis, and Baltimore, VOLT Restaurant is owned and operated by Executive Chef Bryan Voltaggio (yes, a Top Chef finalist in Season 6 and Top Chef Master in Season 5), who was born and raised right in the same county. As the owner of six (6) different restaurants, VOLT truly is an exceptional dining experience. Prepared with fresh, local ingredients, Voltaggio's seasonal menu showcases robust and classic flavor combinations that tell a story. A story of how they cook, how they work with the ingredients, and how they connect to them as cooks.
Nestled in the heart of Frederick, in a beautiful converted 19th Century brownstone mansion, the restaurant's ambience encompasses a Victorian feel mixed with "contemporary, urban sophistication." The setting is broken up into 3 dining areas - a main dining room, a glass conservatory room, and the chef's dining room (I had the pleasure of sitting in here). I am bummed I did not get any pictures of the main dining room - it was super busy -but I can share that its color palette included "shades of amber and burnt rose, and pays great respect to the buildings original Gilded Era construction." Oh, and the glass conservatory room would be PERFECT for a private party. I mean, totally Fit4Janine! Oval in shape, it gives panoramic views of the mansions walled garden! Just gorgeous!
Additionally, a super hip lounge adorned with a translucent bar, as well as modern couches and chairs, is a perfect start, or finish, to your meal. Actually, you can sit in here for some casual dining too! Since there was some wine to still consume post-dinner, it was a great place to "cap-off" the evening...and it has a gorgeous view of Main Street as well! Don't worry, I have a picture of me in my glory at the bottom of this post.
Did you know that Frederick's "Main Street" is a nationally renowned historic district? I really would like to go back and check out all the city has to offer. I mean, the gorgeous architecture of the buildings that date back to the 18th & 19th Centuries house a plethora of specialty shops, antique stores, bed and breakfasts, restaurants, and so much more! If you are in to beer, they have some local breweries that are crafting some awesomeness. That is the word on the street, at least - LOL.
Now, for the REALLY good stuff - the FOOD! :) As I mentioned, our table was seated in the chef's dining room which was AWESOME. Just like it is stated on their website "guests can witness cuisine in creation by Chef Voltaggio and his talented kitchen staff." In fact, there is an option to sit at the 8 person's "Chef's Counter" where you can be front and center to watch the magic happen.
To start, the menu is divided into 2 sections; "a la carte" and the "Chef's Tasting Menu." Our waiter did inform us that, in order to have the best experience, everyone in your party should order the same way. While the tasting menu looked wonderful, and you can even do a wine pairing with each course, it was decided to go with the "a la carte" so LOTS could be sampled. The menu is listed as a glossary with definitions of how the dish was created, as well as the importance of the ingredients that were used in the creation. I will be honest, for as much as I am a foodie, I needed a lot of explanation for some of the menu descriptions.
To start off, I ordered a martini, straight up, no vermouth, with a lemon twist. I loved the fact that it came in the uber trendy "coupe-style" glass. So fancy and chic. And, the fabulous amuse bouche was a beet macarron. Umm, foodgasm! And, if you are a bread fan, there were 3 different varieties to try - a sourdough, a cheddar biscuit, and, of course, that 3rd one I am drawing a complete blank! You can see how important bread is to me.
First Course: A sampling of Fois Gras, Winter Radish, & Potato and Allium; of all 3, my favorite was the Fois Gras! It came with a pickled pear, rye crumb, and pine nut chip. It, literally, melted in your mouth!
Before the second course arrived, I ordered a bottle of the 2016 Treana Cabernet from Paso Robles for the table. I have not had in awhile and it, for sure, did not disappoint! The next time I decide to do a wine tasting in California (getting the itch again), I, definitely, want to check out the Paso Robles region. If you have been, let me know your thoughts! Is it worth it?
Second Course: Roasted Cauliflower, Ravioli, and Octopus; the cauliflower and ravioli were amazing! I did not try the octopus - it was fried and, well, it was not "floating my boat." Get it? The cauliflower came with a caper and hazelnut "couscous" (such a fabulous combination), and the ravioli was filled with goat cheese and adorned with parsnip, truffle, and frisee. Again, a unique and delicious flavor combo!
Third Course: Roasted Chicken, Pork Tenderloin, and Cod; okay, I think all 3 were my favorite! Seriously, each and every bite was better than the next. The chicken came with sunchokes, whipped gruyere, and watercress; the pork tenderloin had a yummy mole on the side with cornbread and salsa verde; and, the cod came with cannelloni "seabeans," country ham, fennel, and green apple.
Fourth Course: A cheese plate was split that featured monocacy ash goat cheese, walnut, guava jam, and orange. A fabulous way to round out the meal! Oh, and additionally, they let us sample an assortment of mini desserts too, and gave us some homemade chocolate chip cookies with the check! Okay, who am I kidding - I passed on both but they looked delicious (and those cookies smelled divine).
My overall thoughts? The evening was wonderful, and, I know I am sounding redundant, but the restaurant truly is a culinary experience. It has a great vibe, so much history, service was spot on, and you can be dressed up, or in business casual, and fit right in. I wish more places had a more formal dress code but, I get it...I think.
I will say that now that I have been, I can check it off my list, but I would, certainly, go back for a special occasion, a fancy date night, or even a private party. Honestly, I think that is what makes it such a special dining experience, especially for the price. For my athletes and fitness enthusiasts, heads up, portions are small (rightfully so) so make sure you are not starving upon arrival, or maybe just have an extra bite of those fabulous desserts.
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