The Restaurant Project: Volt (March)

March 28, 2011 § 10 Comments

We went to Volt.
Bryan Voltaggio wasn’t there.
The food was unreal.
The location was beautiful.
The staff was brilliant.
The clientele was horribly rude.

Let me go on.

Thanks to Twitter, I realized before we left for the restaurant that Chef Bryan was in Charleston, not Frederick. Scott was worried — I could tell he was steeling himself for a patented Meredith Meltdown — but I get it. I’m not at my job every day; I travel; there’s business to do elsewhere and part of being a chef is finding people you trust to cook your food. Slight bummer — especially given that both Bryan and Michael were in the kitchen the following night (thanks for rubbing that one in, Twitter) — but I get it. I don’t go to The Source expecting to see Wolfgang Puck there every time (though, now that I think about it, I was always looking for the wrong guy anyway).

We were seated in an amazing spot — in the front of the restaurant (which is a huge, stately old house right on a main street of Frederick), looking out the window. For the first 10 minutes, I couldn’t hear Scott speak thanks to the party of six next to us … three couples, loaded with both money and booze, basically screaming at each other and their server. One couple was asking whether it would be possible to book chef’s table for the following weekend for their daughter’s birthday. (I delivered: Withering bitch please glance No. 1. Server did an amazing job being polite and explaining there are no chef’s table reservations until 2012). I did a dance of joy when they finally paid their bill and exited; the whole room became lovely and quiet.

Here’s what we ordered — we split everything:

      –Winter Garden Beets, Carrots in Timoty Hay, Radish, Graham Soil, Kohirabi, Cherry Glen Farm Chevre


      –Cherry Glen Farm Goat Cheese Ravioli Butternut Squash, Maitake Mushrooms, Toasted Pumpkin Seeds


      –Red Wattle Pork Belly, Calypso Beans, Petite Turnips, Mustard Seeds


      –Border Spring Farm Lamb, Mission Figs, Licorice, Madras Curry, Merquez Sausage, Roasted Cauliflower


    –Rabbit, Brussels Sprouts, Red Wine Braised Cabbage, Mustard Greens, Sweet Potato

Now, somewhere during second course, which for me was the goat cheese ravioli, which included some lovely foam — another party was seated next to us, this time two couples on a date.

They weren’t sitting down for 5 minutes when the woman closest to me leaned over and said, “I just have to ask … what is that FOAM?! It looks like soap!”

(I delivered: Withering bitch please glance No. 2 and explained that yes, it was foam.)

From that point on, Scott and were pretty quiet — any conversation we tried to have was overwhelmed by the volume of the foursome’s conversation. We quickly learned:

New couples
Both newly divorced from their original spouses
The women were coworkers
The women were pretty sure they were going to get fired on Monday, or else their company was going to go out of business, because they saw Jerry leaving with the ledger on Friday night!

They were wasted.
Later, another couple flagged down Scott’s attention from the street outside the restaurant and motioned for him to get the foursome’s attention. At this point we’d given up on having a romantic evening and had decided to just enjoy the shitshow, so he complied.
That couple — also wasted — ended up coming in and sitting down at their table. Then popping up and going to the bar. Then coming back.
There were a lot of middle fingers being thrown back and forth across the table, and a lot of dirty looks being cast at the from other tables across the room. It was borderline pandemonium.

Finally: The Kicker.
As we were waiting for our check, the Confused by Foam Woman accosted a server and asked, “WHY IS THERE FOAM ON EVERYTHING?”
(I delivered: Withering bitch please glance No. 3.)
The poor server looked flustered, and said, ever-so-politely, “It’s only on a few of our chef’s dishes. You just happened to order two of them.”
She wasn’t satisfied.
“But WHY? It just tastes like air. What’s the point?!?!”
The server tried again: “It’s one of our chef’s techniques.”
Foam Lady sighed.
“Well, how would you know I guess. You’re just a waiter.”
And there’s your kicker.
So rude. So insanely rude.
We left quickly after that.

Ultimately: The food was amazing.
The clientele was rude. Which is a sad thing, and maybe it’s not like that every night, hopefully it isn’t. I think it was so bothersome because Scott and I approach eating like trips — it’s a journey, and if you’re a chef we admire, we’re with you wherever you take us, and we respect you and trust if you want to take a shortcut or a really, really long detour. You’re the driver, we’re the passengers. We don’t know a whole hell of a lot about cooking, though we’re pretty knowledgeable about eating — we’re looking to learn and experience what the pros can do. It was disappointing to not see that kind of excitement and respect from other diners, but it didn’t and couldn’t overshadow the beauty of the food. Thank you, Chef Bryan. We’ll be back.

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