Af­ter 10 years, Volt­ag­gio’s Volt still elec­tri­fies

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - LIFE & TRAVEL - By Christina Tkacik

It’s a given to­day that Fred­er­ick is a foodie des­ti­na­tion. But that wasn’t the case when chef Bryan Volt­ag­gio opened Volt in a grand old man­sion on Fred­er­ick’s his­toric Mar­ket Street 12 years ago. Soon af­ter, in 2009, the chef and his home­town gained na­tional recog­ni­tion when he was a fi­nal­ist on sea­son six of “Top Chef ” (his brother, Michael, was the win­ner). Look for him to reap­pear on the Bravo show in a new all­star sea­son of the re­al­ity com­pe­ti­tion that airs March 19.

In re­cent years, Volt­ag­gio has opened and closed mul­ti­ple restau­rants in the Bal­ti­more area. In Fred­er­ick, he op­er­ates Fam­ily Meal. He and his brother to­gether run the steak­house at MGM Na­tional Har­bor, Es­tu­ary in Washington and a quick ser­vice restau­rant in Santa Mon­ica, Cal­i­for­nia.

But Volt is spe­cial.

“Ob­vi­ously that restau­rant means a lot to me,” Volt­ag­gio said. “It’s part of the fabric of Fred­er­ick, and it’s helped shape in some ways down­town din­ing.”

You don’t need to be “Top Chef ” host Padma Lak­shmi to ap­pre­ci­ate Volt­ag­gio’s dishes. At Volt, the most eye-pop­ping, con­cep­tual plates of food are just as yummy as they are pretty to look at.

We didn’t spot Volt­ag­gio in the kitchen dur­ing our two re­cent vis­its to his flag­ship restau­rant. But our ex­pe­ri­ences sug­gest that his staff are fully ca­pa­ble of ex­e­cut­ing his vi­sion for food that ig­nites the senses. For $150, guests can sam­ple prac­ti­cally ev­ery­thing on the menu, as I did dur­ing one visit at the chef ’s counter. It’s an in­ti­mate, un­for­get­table ex­pe­ri­ence, but I’d skip it for now and just or­der mul­ti­ple cour­ses. (My rea­son­ing on that later.)

Din­ner in the well-ap­pointed din­ing room started with a sa­vory mac­aron with foie gras that my din­ing com­pan­ion and I con­sumed in a bite. As part of the tast­ing menu, an early course of bay scal­lop crudo wowed with its mix of green ap­ple in a de­lec­ta­ble but­ter­nut squash ponzu. It was topped with foam and gar­nished lov­ingly with greens and crispy rice. From there, we were de­lighted by the pink foie gras tor­chon, as vel­vety as panna cotta, which re­ceived an acidic hit from some baby

KEN­NETH K. LAM/BAL­TI­MORE SUN

Volt chef/owner Bryan Volt­ag­gio

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