|The entrance to Volt|
The two brothers made the final three of season six of 'Top Chef', an American cookery competition for professional chefs who are at the top of their game, there are no competitors in the show who are purely there to 'make good telly' by screwing up, this is a serious show.
Chef Voltaggio snr also has a family style restaurant and a sandwich shop ( more Fortnum and Mason than pret a manger), also in Frederick, his adopted home town.
Bryan and his sibling Michael also wrote one of the most exciting cookery books of the last few years - VOLT:ink. (ink is Michael's LA restaurant)
Having made plans to visit Virginia, Washington and New York on my #bennettontour trip to the states, I was overjoyed to discover that Frederick was only a short drive from where I was to spend the majority of my trip, Leesburg VA. With the restaurant only accepting bookings one month prior to the date of dining, I set my sister with the task of making the reservation, as she lives in the same time zone and it was far easier for her to arrange. Having made the reservation, time dragged until my journey began despite being hugely busy at work - 80 hour weeks were standard - and it certainly fed my appetite and enthusiasm to try out the famous 'table 21', where Bryan and his team treat guests to a 21 course tour of tastes, textures and unusual preparations.
I should point out that this booking was also a celebration meal, as the main reason for the trip was to commemorate my birthday, so when we arrived I wanted to order some champagne for a toast or two, but my sister and her husband were reluctant, so we didn't. Feeling a bit upset that no one wanted to celebrate with me, I followed our waiter to the table, which is essentially a long bar overlooking the main kitchen, and sat down. Within moments of being seated, the Maitre d' brought me a bottle of champagne and a card, explaining that a 'Mr Barron' ( my best mate) had arranged a little surprise for me. Obviously everyone else had been in on it, but I genuinely had no clue. I wasn't shocked that it had been arranged, just that I hadn't seen it coming or anticipated it. As an extra touch, Bryan himself came over to introduce himself and to congratulate me, telling me he had seen on twitter that I was going to be dining at Volt, and how pleased he was that we had chosen to spend my birthday with him. It was a lovely gesture, and certainly made it special.
|Birthday greetings from a friend|
|Caviar dip and chips|
With a start like that, the food needed to be pretty special to keep the standard up, and it certainly delivered. With prime seats overlooking the larder section we were able to see dishes being created without ruining the surprise element of the tasting menu. As I mentioned, this was a 21 course menu, so I'm not going to go into lengthy descriptions of all the dishes, as that would make for a huge, lengthy blog post, but hopefully the images will do the talking and give a sense of what went on.
The 'chips and dip' course was a lovely start to the meal, equal measures of richness, sweetness and salinity. good technical dish with a light 'quaver' like cheese crisp and delicate sour cream espuma.
|Celeriac macaron, foie gras mousse, orange|
|Celery soup,pickled vegetables|
|Blue crab, avocado. yuzu, soy, wasabi|
|Beets, goats cheese, coffee, orange|
|Goats cheese ravioli, oyster mushrooms, green garlic, sweetcorn|
|Arctic char, creme fraiche, huckleberries|
|Sturgeon, fennel, fig, cipolini onions|
|Maitake mushrooms, grains, seagreens|
|Salsify, country ham, apple, hazelnut|
A confusing dish, but in a good way. Individual elements include several preparations of salsify, a nut emulsion dressing, caramelised compressed apple, and semi dried Parma style ham. Each on its own was lovely, but put them all together? Wowser. Incredible textures and a natural flavour combination I haven't tasted since Noma. Fascinating thought process must have gone into this dish.
|Veal sweetbreads, bacon, fennel|
|Bryan at work|
So good, I had two! Perfect sweetbreads coated in a rich glaze, with crisp pancetta style bacon, roast baby fennel and fresh kale. perfect simplicity again.
|Foie gras, rhubarb, strawberry, coconut|
|pork belly, cocoa, beans|
|Rabbit, heirloom carrots|
|Loin of lamb, chickpeas, golden sultanas, pearl onion|
|Raspberry, shortbread, vanilla, basil|
|Black sesame cake, blueberry, nitro frozen grapefruit curd|
|Black sesame cake, different angle|
|Chocolate, peanut, marshmallow|
|My signed copy of VOLT:ink|
|Bryan Voltaggio and me|