Tuesday, March 13, 2012

VOLT - 02/28/2012

228 North Market Street
Frederick, MD 21701
(301) 696-8658

I was supposed to eat here December of last year, but I lucked into a last minute seat at Table 21. While I would have preferred an encore visit to Table 21 there weren't any available seats so I "settled" for a seat in the dining room overlooking the kitchen. While the main dining room offers both a 4-course prix fixe and 7-course tasting menu options, diners in the chef's table are forced to order either the kitchen tasting menu or the vegetable tasting menu.

corner pocket - bulleit rye whiskey, canton ginger, lilet rouge, aromatic bitters
Despite the intoxicating aroma of fresh lemon, there was little citrus on the palate. Instead the drink tasted slightly vinous with a woody backbone from the rye. The fruit did make a comeback on the finish with a sweetness reminiscent of yellow Skittles.

mock oyster - malt vinegar, oyster leaf, salsify
nv rosé, lucien albrecht, brut crémant d'alsace, alsace, france
I was keenly impressed with this at Table 21 but this time around I choked a bit on the powder which threw off the experience though I still got a tinge of brine on the finish.

beet macaroon - foie gras, cara cara orange
nv rosé, lucien albrecht, brut crémant d'alsace, alsace, france
If only more restaurants served beets wrapped around foie gras I might not mind them so much. The delicate crunch of the beet shell provides a sugary attack ahead of the creamy liver center.

rutabaga soup - lobster, lobster puff
nv rosé, lucien albrecht, brut crémant d'alsace, alsace, france
The final canape was a cold rutabega soup with lobster. The soup displays a slightly bitter root vegetable sapor that is well balanced with the sweet salinity of the shellfish.

kampachi - blood orange, fennel, ginger
2009 dr. bürklin-wolf, riesling, "estate," trocken, pfalz, germany
First up was a beautifully composed plate of vivid reds and greens. The fish was key texturally adding a sensual slickness to soften the crunch of the fennel. On the palate resonant citrus and licorice notes take precedence but strategically sprinkled granules of rock salt help the fish to come through a bit more forcefully.

kim chee - daikon radish, chicken thigh, quail egg, basil
2010 alois lageder, müller-thurgau, "dolomiti," alto-adige, italy
Despite the clear Korean influences, the soulful chicken broth and fresh basil and mint reminded me more of a progressive chicken pho. As good as the soup was, the thigh itself was even better, immensely flavorful and tender it fit nicely with the spirit of the dish but I wouldn't have minded a more straightforward course built around the bird itself.

turbot - butternut squash, radish, brussels sprouts
2010 chateau les valentines, rose of grenache, côtes de provence, france
Probably the weakest course of the night for me. The fish itself was immaculately prepared, tender and delicate yet dense and toothsome. The essence of the sprouts does a fine job of tempering the squash, but I still found the combination a bit disconcerting.

ravioli - black trumpet mushroom, ash, parsley root
2009 domain drouhin, chardonnay, "arthur," dundee hills, oregon
My server noted that this was one of their most popular dishes. The ravioli itself is made with black trumpet mushrooms and filled with goat cheese. The dish opens with an unexpectedly buttery attack followed by a sharp gaminess from the goat cheese filling tempered by the earthiness from the mushroom and ash. A really impressive dish with bold articulate flavors.

sweetbreads - bacon, sunchoke, black kale
2007 paolo bea, "san velentino," sagrantino blend, umbria, italy
A surprisingly approachable sweetbreads course. Then again whats not to like about perfectly sauteed sweetbreads infused with the heady gusto of bacon. The black kale was key here cutting through the gravitas of the organ meat.

chicken - grits, leeks, lacinato kale
The chicken was a supplement that I added from the a la carte meal and simply put one of the tenderest chicken breasts that I've ever eaten. The bird itself has a hauntingly pure flavor fortified by the concentrated chicken jus. Creamy grits, bitter kale, and the melty leeks all help convey a sense of homey comfort. For me this best captures the conjunction of contemporary elegance and bucolic comfort that Voltaggio is known for.

beef cheek - garam masala, potatoes, gold ball turnips
2005 chateau pradeaux, mouvèrde, bandol, provence france
I couldn't help but compare this to the beef cheek that I had at ink about a month earlier. By comparison, Brian's preparation reminded me of a steak. The cheek offers a very familiar flavor profile, but prepared with a precision and grace that few could match.

chocolate - marshmallow, caramel, peanut
taylor fladgate, 20 year tawny port, portugal
Dessert was a multi-faceted affair of rich chocolate and creamy marshmallow. The caramel and peanut add a savory wrinkle evening out the sugary marshmallow.

The quartet of small treats consisted of a popcorn macaron, lemon fennel marshmallow, pomegranate pâte de fruit, and a chocolate truffle. Though all four were tasty the popcorn macaron was easily the most memorable of the bunch.

After experiencing Table 21 I was worried that I couldn't appreciate the regular menu. Turns out the regular menu is actually a subset of the Table 21 courses and the food still displays the same precision and elegance while remaining comfortably approachable.


sygyzy said...

Did the restaurant really call it a beet "macaron"? It looks nothing like a macaron. I am confused by the naming.

Epicuryan said...

Nope they called it a beet macaroon... I just missed an o.

Rodzilla said...

I do wonder how much Table 21 has changed, but that menu looks great. The chicken's color tells me it had to be sous vide, and I would add it in a heartbeat.

Odd that your bill ended up being more than Table 21

what were you charged corkage for?