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An electrifying trip to culinary satisfaction

December 21, 2008|By OMNI VORE

There had been a lot of fanfare about Volt, a new restaurant that opened this summer at 228 N. Market St. in downtown Frederick. I was very curious and a little intimidated.

Co-owner and chef Bryan Voltaggio trained at Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y. On Volt's Web site, he described his work as "sophisticated dishes that emphasize purity and seasonal flavors." He advocated "local, sustainable and organic foods."

I am pleased to report that during my visit, first and foremost, the food at Volt was outstanding. Second, for value, the best deal was the express lunch at the bar, which was served from noon to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. Third, the quality of the service matched the quality of the food.

The lounge had plush leather seats and a large display of massive autumn pumpkins. These sat next to the bar where the luncheon special was served. The waitress was new, a pony-tailed young woman in jeans and sneakers. Our waitress had a sure knack for making cocktails. She prepared a martini and it was a pleasure to watch her at work.

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We ordered French pressed coffee. Our waitress served the strong, fresh coffee with a pitcher of cream and a ball filled with lump sugar. All the accoutrements for the service were white and had the logo V impressed on their sides. Water costs $1 but for this small charge you get endless glasses of sparkling or still water. Volt serves filtered tap water to order - room temperature or chilled, still or sparkling - using the Natura Water System. It is worth the buck.

The menu was printed on a long sheet and framed in leather. The Express Bar Lunch, $14 for three items and $5 for each additional item, listed four alcoholic beverages, two salads, three sandwiches, two potato dishes and one dessert. Together we chose six different items. The presentation was appetizing: items were arranged on a long rectangular plate, a personal piece of modern art.

My friend ordered two sandwiches and pomme frites, better known in this country as french fries. Volt's fries were shoestring cut, fresh, meaty and chewy and presented with a green aoli sauce. Yum. The pulled-pork sandwich featured a tomato sauce which had a slight bite, with a side of coleslaw and chips. The pastrami sandwich was composed of good, thin-sliced pastrami with a specialty mustard. Both got the thumbs up from my companion, though he didn't like the tomato in the barbecued pork.

My platter contained squash soup and a lamb burger. The deep, white soup bowl contained about three full tablespoons of a thick rich pumpkin soup and a froth of coconut milk. The taste was of India - curried, hot, salty - yet the essence of the squash shone through.

The lamb burger was rare, placed in a small poppy seed bun with cheese, a relish and homemade chips. We both agreed that the burger was incredibly tasty and that we would rate it the best of the three excellent sandwiches.

Our waitress cleared everything and then brought the wonderful chocolate dessert. The long white plate was a feast for the eyes. Three drops of real caramel led to a chocolate lushness sitting on a crisp biscuit with a slight cream sauce. Next time, I will order three desserts.

I want to go back because we were made welcome; because it was an intriguing space; but most of all, because the food at Volt was delicious and intriguing. Besides, it was fun and high end. I felt glamorous in this setting.

My introduction to Volt was on the Web. The site, www.voltrestaurant.com, has clean graphics, evocative photos and promises of gustatory pleasure. Volt also had a blog at blog.voltrestaurant.com. Perusing the blog, I "went" with Voltaggio and co-owner Hilda Staples to the Frederick County Fair, bought a pig from a 4-H member, picked fresh greens in nearby fields, grilled outside for a summer festival, watched an old brick mansion turn into a modern restaurant.

Volt is located in a historic Frederick mansion. The design inside is modern with strong, lean lines in contrast to the red antiquity outside. Interior walls are large square spaces of neutral color - chocolate, grey and taupe. For special parties, there is a glassed conservatory that seats 12. The elegant main dining room looks out on Market Street. In the chef's dining room, which opens to the kitchen, I watched 10 staff people cooking, chopping, stirring, measuring. Dressed in black and grey and wearing real sneakers, the staff seemed to move like slow-motion dancers as the lunch hour progressed.

Restaurant review



Volt

5 (out of 5)

Food: 5 stars

Service: 5 stars

Ambiance: 5 stars

Value: 5 stars

Address: 228 N. Market St., Frederick, Md.

Hours: Lunch is served from noon to 2:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Dinner is served from 5:30 to 10 p.m. Tuesday to Sunday. Express lunch is served in the lounge from noon to 4 p.m. Tuesday to Sunday. Brunch is served from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Reservations suggested

Style: Modern American cuisine

Phone: 301-696-VOLT (8658)

Web site: www.voltrestaurant.com

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