Last Saturday, I left my normal four block radius on U St. and traveled to Fredrick, MD to eat at Volt's Table 21. For those of you who aren't food geeks and Top Chef fans, Volt is Bryan Voltaggio's restaurant that focuses on local, seasonal menus. Table 21 is the chef's table in the kitchen. A friend of mine procured the reservation in November 2009. That's right…she made the reservation LAST YEAR and the wait continues to be close to a year for Table 21. It seems Table 21 has achieved the enviable reservation status of "almost impossible."
I was excited about going to Volt. My folks owned several restaurants while I was growing up in NC and food has always played a key role in our dynamic. This has translated into a fierce fascination with good food, unusual dining experiences and new restaurants. To top it off, my husband is an instinctive cook and is always making something yummy. Needless to say, discussions about food, wine, and restaurants dominates a lot of conversations.
Let me preempt my commentary by explaining we've also eaten at minibar. It's very, very hard to top a minibar experience. Jose Andres pioneered the concept and he's mastered it. I had a lot of moments where I was thinking "hmm…Volt vs. minibar" and minibar was winning. I'm not saying Volt isn't good. In fact, it was excellent and I'm thrilled I was able to experience it. I'm saying I'm jaded.
Back to Volt. We had 21 courses! I'm only going to highlight a few of the courses for the sake of brevity. 21 courses takes a lot of stamina even when the courses are small. I'm also exceptionally picky and I don't like a million things. I know. I'm a pain in the ass. I'm not Anthony Bourdain, people. This doesn't diminish the experience for me. I try everything and my husband is the clean up crew. It's the best of both worlds.
This is the Neil Dundee*, the beverage director, making our first course called the "john daly". It involved lots of liquid nitrogen (notice the "steam" coming off the top of the glasses), hanger one buddha hand citron, orange and sweet tea foam. It was a dramatic presentation which we loved. I'm a sucker for great presentation.
To the right, is Volt's take on the Caprese salad. The precision in each of the dishes was impressive. In this course, each tomato was perfect. The mozzarella was a tiny bubble. The basil was presented as frozen pellets. All the elements melted in your mouth to make an incredible bite.
The course to the left was lobster, butter, fennel and carrots. All of the course were cooked perfectly. I felt one or two of the meat courses were over salted. Otherwise, it was phenomenal. I didn't love a few of the courses but as I mentioned, I'm picky. The rest of my crew thought almost everything was good. The courses with the least amount of gimmick were our favorites. The consensus was the regular menu must rock.
The service was exceptional. It was top tier and thoughtful. We received muffins for breakfast as we exited. Ours were lemon poppy seed and they were devoured Sunday morning.
Overall, I enjoyed myself immensely. For a food geek like me, it was a perfect Saturday evening. For the entire menu, see below.
-"john daly" hanger one buddha hand citron, orange, sweet tea foam
-proscuitto chip & dip
– beet macaroon with foie gras (I really enjoyed this although I generally despise beets)
– yellowfin tuna tartare cilantro,jasmine rice wrapper, soy, yuzu, avocado
-chilled yellow corn crab salad, coconut
-"chicken parmesan" parmesan noodles, parsley
-cherry glen farm ravioli porcini mushroom, goat cheese (my favorite!)
-lobster butter, fennel
-sturgeon sour cream and onion potatoes, red onion confiture
-artic char maroon carrots, matsutake mushrooms
-barramundi cauliflower, verjus, chickpea
-sweetbreads fennel, kalamata olive, caper, lemon
-turscarora farm beets arugula, goat cheese, balsamic
-pork belly mostarda, cannellini beans, orange
-border springs farm lamb licorice, curry, farro, cauliflower
.jpgneland farm strip loin lobster mushroom, applewood smoked bacon
-point reyes blue cheese apple, balsamic
-goat cheesecake raspberry sorbet, morcona almonds, caramel powder
-gala apple walnut crumb, dulce de leche
-textures of chocolate caramel, chocolate ice cream
-chocolate, candies and macaroons
*sorry for the fuzzy photos. All photos were from our phones.