Posted October 11th, 2010 by Deepa and filed in Food, Reviews
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Volt 081Last Saturday, we had dinner at Volt.  Although I am devoted follower of many Food based TV programs, I have never followed Top Chef and therefore had no clue about Chef Bryan Voltaggio’s culinary style or techniques.  All I knew was that he used local organic seasonal ingredients and that he was brilliant.  His restaurant, Volt had been voted Maryland’s best restaurant and it was on my list of top places to try. There are three different kinds of dining options at Volt.  You can either dine from the a La Carte Menu or from the prix fixe six course tasting menu. The third option is  called “Table 21” and is a 21-course meal that you have with the chef preparing it right in front of you.  It is a testimony to the popularity of the restaurant that it’s Table 21 option is  booked pretty much well into the end of 2011.  We were incredibly  lucky to get a reservation for the a la Carte option at  5:30pm on  Saturday.

Volt 086Volt is located in Frederick’s historic neighborhood and is a renovated three story old mansion called the Houck Mansion.  The exterior still retains the architecture and the look and feel of an mansion constructed in early 1900s but the interior is completely modern with minimalist furniture and décor. Along with Ashu and Shweta, we arrived there quite promptly at 5:30. Although it was opening time, most of the other tables were full.  The A La Carte Menu is arranged in a four course format and we decided to indulge in all 4 courses!  And we all decided to order a different dish, so we could taste almost all of the menu. We started off with some cocktails — mine was a Vodka -gingerbeer cocktail called Silk route, while Ashu ordered the Stone Wall (Rum+Ginger beer+ apple cider+ slice of apple).

Volt 085 While we sipped the cocktails, the servers brought us some breadsticks which were dusted with Muldoon sea salt & fennel pollen. The presentation was rather cute , the breadsticks nice and crispy but I couldn’t really taste the fennel.  We were offered a choice of various kind of bread (buttery brioche with bacon bits, rosemary & thyme biscuits, sourdough bread and corncakes).  The Brioche was incredibly soft and airy and I think I polished mine off in a matter of seconds!The amuse bouche was arctic char tartare — which was fresh and lemony without being overtly fishy. Shweta got a spoonful of mejdoul dates with some creme topping.

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Hudson Valley Farm Foie Gras with Fig Tuille
Butternut squash soup with smoked scallops and curry foam

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A tasting of Beets: tuscarora farm organic beets , cherry glen farm goat cheese , upland cress and beetroot meringue
shiitake velouté pinenuts, chili oil, opal basil

The foie gras was very buttery and served with crisp toast., although it didn’t have any strong taste by itself  it was rich and creamy and delicious!  The curry scented butternut squash soup was warm and hearty and it was paired well with the smoked scallop at the bottom — I could easily have this for a meal by itself!. The shitake veloute was rather earthy tasting — the chili oil or the pine nuts didn’t really cut into the overpowering taste of the mushrooms. The star of the first course was undoubtedly the beet tasting– red, pink and golden beetroots meshed well with the rather sharp taste of the upland cress ( a variation of the water-cress) and the creaminess of the goat cheese.  The melt in your mouth beetroot meringue was a charming and playful touch!

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scallop and veal sweetbread fennel, meyer lemon, caper, kalamata olive, red ribbon sorrel
Partridge with sunchokes

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Cherry glen farm goat cheese ravioli

Grilled Arctic char with matsutake mushrooms

The food kept getting better and better as our second course arrived.  The scallop and sweetbreads was amazing. The arctic char had the most perfectly grilled fish skin that I have ever tasted ! The ravioli was creamy and the foam was delicious but the winner of this round was undoubtedly the partridge — grilled to perfection, each mouthful was simply delicious. I don’t remember the components of the creamy sauce that it had but it was simply delicious!

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maine lobster celeriac puree, black forbidden rice, carrot tarragon vinaigrette
freebird farms roasted chicken braised red chard, bacon lardon, fennel,crisp polenta

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Farro risotto with grilled licorice and baby carrots
sturgeon cauliflower variations, cilantro, beluga lentils, chickpea socca, verjus (mejdoul date)

Seejo had the lobster for the main course– while it was extremely good by itself, there were far too many accompaniments that made the dish very complicated to eat.  And I wasn’t even sure that all those imparted more flavor to each mouthful. The chicken was extremely well done, with the swiss chard imparting a slight earthy flavour that complimented the fennel and the crisp polenta.  The various cauliflowers were very pretty to look at it — the sturgeon was well done and I would have rated this dish as my favourite of the whole course , except that the chick pea socca was incredibly salty and left that aftertaste in my mouth.   This round is a tossup between the rich lobster (minus all the frou-frou)  and the specially prepared vegetarian dish — with farro. The char grilled licorice was beautifully accompanied by the sweet baby carrots — a wonderful combination.

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Apple tart with caramel ice cream and sage foam
goat cheese cake with pear and pistachio and caramel

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textures of chocolate chocolate ganache, chocolate caramel, pistachio, raw organic cocoa

We ordered only three desserts .  The apple tart with the ice-cream and nuts were the best of this lot, the sage foam tasted very herb-like which was an unusual combination. The goat cheesecake tasted like it said– goat cheese and cheese cake. with stewed pears and a caramel crunch.  The famous textures of chocolate did live upto its expectation– there was every flavor and texture of chocolate in this ribbon like structure. The wall was an extremely rich chocolate ganache with pistachio buts and raw bitter cocoa powder and milky white chocolate

The service was very quick,  efficient and knowledgeable and pretended not to notice when we clicked photos of each and every dish –twice!!  When each dish was brought out, the server explained what it contained and how it was prepared. Not only was our main server aware of our preferences (Shweta was a vegetarian ) but the server who brought our bread also knew that.   When we ordered a brioche that had bacon bits, they were quick to point that out and offer the other vegetarian options.

I saw that  Chef Bryan was in the house when I went over for a restroom break,  a few other guests had stopped to take pictures with him. I wondered if I should go ahead and request a picture but realized that I had left my camera in my seat. I regretted that lapse even more when I saw the restroom.  Painted a dark violet color, it is ultra modern with sliding doors,  square sinks and a opaque glass door separating the men and women. Here is a picture that someone who remembered to take the camera to the restroom took!

Volt 113After our meal, we were offered us a selection of tiny chocolate poppers, perhaps  to sweeten our moods when presented with the check. The miniature chocolate marshmallow sandwiches were so-so, but Ashu’s favorite was the choco-balls dusted with cocoa and cinnamon.  The fall flavors were present in the tiny pumpkin filled pastry while I loved the sour cherry jelly squares! We were all filled and ready to leave when they bought us individually wrapped lemon poppy muffins baked the very same morning as a thank you for coming gift!   I saved mine for a midnight snack :)

We had a great time and didn’t realize that we had spent nearly 4 hours eating & chatting away. You don’t go to Volt if you are hungry and looking for hearty filling food.  You go there to see an artist’s vision of  interpreting the local ingredients.  And it didn’t hurt that the presentation looked awesome, the food tasted  supremely delicious and that  we were full when left!

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