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High Volt-age: Dining at Bryan Voltaggio's Place

Volt restaurant, Frederick MD
When my husband and I were in the Washington, DC area between Christmas and New Year’s, we tried to get a reservation at Volt in Frederick, MD where Bryan Voltaggio, from last season’s Top Chef, is the chef/owner. We were told, very politely, that it takes about three months to get a reservation on a weekend and about six weeks to get a reservation on a weeknight. We knew we’d be in the DC area again at the end of March for the Smithsonian Kite Festival, so we made a reservation. After handling the customary logistical details, the very nice woman who answered the phone asked if either my husband or I had any dietary restrictions. My husband said I was diabetic.

Now, I don’t know if Volt tailors each day’s menu to the dietary preferences of that day’s customers or if it was just a happy coincidence that the menu had several diabetic-friendly options. I like to think that saying I was diabetic ahead of time made a difference.

We were staying in Rockville, MD and our drive to Frederick was about 30 minutes in pouring rain. We arrived a bit early and were seated right away. Given the dreary weather and the fact that I had decided ahead of time that straying from my diet for this special occasion was okay, I ordered a cocktail called Hay Fever mainly because it was served warm. It was a delightful combination of citrus flavors, rum and honey (I asked them to go light on the honey, which they did). This may not sound complimentary, but it reminded me of the whiskey-honey-lemon juice concoction popular with my family for soothing sore throats! It was perfect given the weather. My husband decided to be more adventurous and ordered a Spicy Spark – jalapeño, tequila and champagne with a brown sugar coated rim. He said it was tasty, but a bit too fizzy for his liking.

The menu at Volt is divided into First Course, Second Course, Main Course and Dessert. We decided to do First, Main and Dessert (and, yes, I ordered dessert up front).

For the First Course, I ordered yellowfin tuna tartare and my husband ordered shiitake velouté. He was thrilled to have a mushroom option as I’m not a fan and don’t cook them at home. When the tuna arrived, it appeared to be encased in a plastic tube which turned out to be jasmine rice paper. It was a very nice way to hold it together. The Asian-flavored tuna was accompanied by yuzu vinaigrette, red shiso, soy foam and homemade lavash, a cracker with sesame seeds. The shiitake velouté was served in a large soup bowl – one side held mushroom soup and the other held a pinenut sabayon. Opal basil and chili oil were decoratively drizzled on top. I tasted the sabayon and it was delicious, but very rich.

Shiitake Veloute Tuna tartare Sea bass

Our Main Courses featured sea bass for my husband and lamb for me. The sea bass sat on top of what looked like a small lasagne noodle that turned out to be made from an artichoke. I’m going to need to experiment with this as it would be a great pasta alternative for diabetics! My husband said the tarragon pudding and the salty, pickled items that came with the bass “made different parts of my mouth pop.” I had three pieces of medium-rare lamb – one sat atop spinach, another sat atop eggplant tapenade and the last sat atop a cannellini bean puree. Everything was scrumptious and still fit within my diabetic meal plan … until they started serving freshly baked rolls and biscuits. I should have resisted, but I ended up eating a chive biscuit and a bacon brioche. The Southerner in me was happy.

Lamb Coconut dessert Goat cheese cake with apple sorbet

Dessert for my husband was a mixture of coconut sorbet, pineapple and meringue along with a cup of pressed chocolate caramel coffee from a local roaster. I had a white chocolate goat cheese cake and a dollop of granny smith apple sorbet sprinkled with dry caramel along with a decaf cappuccino. Even though having dessert is rare for me, I didn’t feel too guilty after eating this one. It was terrific, yet not too sweet.

After dinner, we were surprised to be served four mini sorbet sandwiches – tiny chocolate chip cookies filled with coffee ice cream and oatmeal raisin cookies filled with the aforementioned apple sorbet. Accompanying our bill were two cellophane-wrapped lemon poppyseed pound cake “muffins” that our waiter said would be delicious for breakfast the next morning. (They were.)

The really nice thing about our meal was that you could taste all of the individual flavors yet they blended together perfectly. We were full afterwards, but not stuffed and miserable. We asked a lot of questions about the food and our waiter was able to successfully field them all. At the end of the evening, we told him everything was fabulous. “That’s what we strive for,” he responded.

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