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My Night Out – Dinner at Volt Restaurant

As many of you don’t know, I’m a big fan of Top Chef on Bravo. I’ll admit, I was late to the party and really didn’t start watching until the fourth season. But thanks to the Bravo’s endless re-runs and marathons, I have caught up on all previous seasons and now I understand that people weren’t being disgusting when they said “that Hung guy won.”

This past season though, was by far and away my favorite. Not just because it was held in Las Vegas, the city where I got married and made a fool of myself (completely separate occasions), but because for the first time, they had a pair of siblings competing against one another.

The dynamic of the two brothers, Bryan and Michael Voltaggio, could not have made for better reality television, especially given their polar opposite personalities. Whereas Bryan was more calm, quiet and was classically trained, Michael was loud, brash, confrontational with a more modern training. They bickered on the show, they fought and worked hard to be the best and (SPOILER ALERT!)…when all was said and done, they were the two best, as Michael was named Top Chef and Bryan finished second.

You could even call their sibling rivalry the 2Pac/Biggie battle of the culinary industry. With Michael out in Los Angeles doing his west coast thing, while Bryan, the older of the two, owning his own restaurant in his hometown of Frederick, Maryland, some 3,000 miles and on the opposite coast of his baby brother.

Last night, I had the opportunity to finally try the food and dining experience of Bryan’s restaurant, Volt. I say finally, because the reservation was made over a month ago and this was the first available time we were able to get in our party of six. Plus, it was the end of DC’s Restaurant Week, (Volt is the only restaurant in Frederick that participates in it at the same time), so we would have a fixed menu, but of course at a lower cost than normal. Oh, and the reservation wasn’t until 9pm on a Sunday night!

Kind of reminds me of the Ghostbusters firehouse.

None of that mattered though, the reservation could have been for 3am and it still couldn’t have been a better dining experience!

Volt is not a large place, but it’s situated in the heart of downtown Frederick. I have never been to that part of town and was amazed by how simple it was, and I mean that in the most positive way possible. There were no big chain stores or flashy new construction, every place were little mom-and-pop specialty stores with most of the original architecture still in place. Definitely a place that warrants checking out during daylight hours to fully appreciate its subtle beauty.

The restaurant itself is very interesting, it’s situated on the main level of its building, with an art gallery in the basement and a graphic design studio above them. The interior definitely has a modern feel to it, but it’s nothing overly aggressive or distracting. Not much fancy artwork adorning the walls and even most of the waitstaff were dressed in a “business casual” type of style with my personal favorite of most of them wearing Chuck Taylor’s Converse sneakers.

We arrived shortly before 9, and hung out in the bar area while we waited for our table. My biggest concern from reading online reviews prior to arriving was that many people, while they enjoyed the food, were negative towards the waiting that they had to endure, both for their table and their food. So when 9:15 rolled around, and we were still standing in the bar area, I had a bit of trepidation for the rest of the night. Here we were, late on a Sunday night, probably the last reservation of the night, and at the end of a busy Restaurant Week, so it was beginning to feel like it could be a rough first experience.

Not two seconds after the thought crossed my mind, in walked Bryan V. himself delivering food to the bar. This made me feel at ease, not just because it was really cool to get to see him up close after watching him on TV for months, but the see the owner of his own restaurant, running around with his apron on, looking really busy. Honestly, I would not have been surprised, given his recent fame that he would either not be there, or just hide away in the kitchen or his office. So it was another pleasant surprise to see him out and about. Also, the restaurant isn’t very large, maybe 20-25 tables upon a quick glance, so I began to understand the wait. Less tables usually means a slower turnover.

However, when we were finally escorted to our table, not only were we being seated, but we were being sat in a special room separate from the rest of the dining room, a room that has only one table in it, just for us! The entry to the room was a giant glass wall and door, so when everyone walked by they could look in at us and think we were special. My friend Eoin said it best, that it was fairly reminiscent to the smoker’s lounge at an airport. Except that no one pitied us or judged us as they walked by. It was definitely a great benefit to have this seclusion to ourselves though. We could be as loud as we wanted, and basically talk about anything without having to worry about anyone possibly being offended by us.

Not only that, but we also had Carlo (plenty more on him in a bit), who was in charge of the front of the house, taking great care of us the whole night, walking us through not just the menu, but the history of the restaurant and the building itself. I’m not certain if he was taking care of any other tables outside our little “glass house,” but considering how often we saw him and how much he chatted with us, it felt like very personal service and it only added to the overall enjoyable experience.

Part 2 – The Food

4 Responses

  1. My ex is from Frederick. I hope it burns down.

  2. […] My Night Out – Dinner at Volt Restaurant (part 2) Posted on January 19, 2010 by jarrettfischer In case you missed it – Dinner At Volt, Part 1 […]

  3. […] More importantly, I do also realize the oddity in going from writing a review about a very fancy restaurant to writing about Domino’s Pizza.  Some might say this is a step down in the exciting world of […]

  4. […] Top 5 Restaurant I Ate At For The First Time 5. Shanghai Lilly (Las Vegas, NV) 4. Tre Dici (New York, NY) 3. Kumo Sushi (Herndon, VA) 2. Bern’s Steakhouse (Tampa, FL) 1. Volt (Frederick, MD) […]

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