A Sneak Peek at Volt

I was meeting a friend in Frederick earlier this week for a drink, and I admitted I couldn’t wait to visit Volt. I am planning to head over for a full meal soon, but I wanted to at least get a drink at the lounge and see the space since I had a rare evening out without my toddler in tow. She was game, so we headed over.

I asked if I could take a look at the space before sitting down, and the host was kind enough to oblige. It looks way different than it did when I visited last spring. I loved the burnt orange-chocolate brown-cream colors. The lounge area is groovy and very modern in design, yet the couch we sat on was very comfortable. The wall between the women’s and men’s bathroom is glass, with a pattern of lines that only allows you to see the feet of the people on the other side. The chef’s tasting room opens onto the pass and has this cool wavy light fixture–very hard to describe, but it’s neat. The private dining room looks cozy, private enough to be away from the action but close enough to get the restaurant’s vibe. The big wooden doors, tiled mosaic entry floor, and some other original architectural details remain in place. It’s a lovely blend of the old and new.

The food we had didn’t disappoint, either. Chef Bryan saw me when I was nosing around and came to ask if he could send us some tastes, and we said yes (duh…). A cute tray holding 8 Chinese soup spoons arrived, with four different samples for each of us. I liked the compressed watermelon cube with vanilla salt and salmon roe, as the sort of Southerner who salts her watermelon routinely. There were some brunoised beets with a Cherry Glen Farm chevre mousse that was also outstanding. Nancy Luse at the Frederick News-Post tipped me off about the scallop ceviche at Volt that she sampled while helping out there one night, and it didn’t disappoint. I’ve had plenty of ceviches that were over-cured, over-acidic, or under-cured and squidgy, but this one hit just right.

Then a parade of dishes followed: tuna tartare with a yuzu reduction, lotus chips and sesame lavosh, hanger steak seared blue with Maldon salt and allumette potatoes (“frites”), arancini with a garlic aioli. The breads are baked in-house; we were both enamored of the rosemary bread with bacon. (The rosemary was so herby and pine-y, it had to have been extremely fresh. Same goes for the mint leaves that came in the canteloupe soup with panna cotta, blackberry sorbet and fresh blackberries.) Surprisingly, Voltaggio doesn’t have a pastry chef on board–he has two pastry cooks producing some really great breads, desserts and petit fours. (He says he hopes to get somebody in within the next month or so.)

By the way, if you ever get a chance to talk to Voltaggio, take it. We had a rambling discussion about salt, Claudia Fleming, local farmers, and where to eat on a Monday night–I’d love to spend more time picking his brain. Also worth talking to (and probably easier to chat with, given his front-of-house role) is sommelier Aaron Schifferle. He seems to be making the adjustment from Warrenton to Frederick pretty well and even tipped me off to half-price wine night at Bombay Grill across the street.

I’ll be back for the full treatment sometime soon. Watch this space for more. I’m glad we stopped in!

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