Saturday, August 13, 2011

Our Experience at Volt Table 21

When I got married last year, my bridesmaid's present to N. (an adventurous foodie) and Judy (my little sister who cooks at the highest Zagat's rated restaurant in DC) were seats at Volt's Table 21.  Table 21 is (as the title would indicate) is a 21 course tasting menu at Bryan Voltaggio's restaurant in Frederick, Maryland. (Yes, Bryan Voltaggio of Top Chef fame!) Unfortunately, he wasn't in the kitchen that evening (probably doing some superstar celebrity chef stuff), but it was a great experience nonetheless.

But before I go into our wonderful dining experience; let me tell you what a tough ticket it was to get three of the seven coveted seats.

Last year around May or so, I started thinking about what I would give my some of my bridesmaids as a gift.  I believe the season of Top Chef with the Voltaggio brothers had just aired and I thought it would be so cool to eat at Bryan's restaurant since it was relatively close by.  Frederick, MD is about an hour outside of Washington, DC.

Anyway, I called the reservations line and I asked for three seats and Table 21. The hostess replied that she had three seats available on August 10...I thought to myself, "Great! It would only be a month after the wedding. Perfect!" She then continuted to clairify that it was August 10, 2011! Over a year away! Eek. Figuring that having a reservation (even if it was over a year away) was better than having no reservation, I booked it.

At our wedding rehearsal in San Diego, I sheepishly presented N. and Judy a printed piece of paper indicating our reservations. They assured me that it would come by in no time, and boy did it! Time really flew and before you knew it the day had come of us to dine at Table 21.

Here is a picture of us at Table 21!

And now the courses...with my little thoughts/descriptions of each

"Mojito" 10 cane, simple syrup
I liked it. It was a nice, minty palate cleanser!

Chips and dip potato, barbeque, chive
The chips were made from this dried meat. Really light and crispy. The dip was like a creamy soup.

Celeriac macaroon foie gras
It was like a candy with a foie gras center! I love me some foie gras!

Heirloom tomatoes farmers daughter shrimp, gazpacho, basil
Nice and fresh, using seasonal produce. The shrimp was nice and plump, too!

Sashimi of fluke yellow doll watermelon, ginger, cucumber blossom
This was a favorite of N. and Judy (I liked it too!) The sashimi combined with the decorative sauces and garnishes were a flavor explosion!

Sheep's milk cavatelli, broccoli rabe, bacon lardon, flowers and herbs
I think that this was the first of many courses that had flowers. Toward the end, N. was not a fan, lol...

Maine lobster, steel cut oats, honeycap mushrooms, kombu, fresh yeast
Umm...lobster, need I say more? The steel cut oats had the flavor and texture of risotto. It was delicious!

Rockfish artichoke barigoule, overnight tomato, roasted fennel
Why is it that fish cooked with its skin on is always so flavorful?

Hen egg ruby quinoa, thyme, minus eight vinegrette
This was one of the weirdest courses. The egg white was clear! Can you see it?

Sweetbreads fennel, oyster mushrooms, hazelnuts, caper
Oopsies.  I forgot to take a pic of this one, but what needs to be said about sweetbreads? Yum!

"Spring garden" beets, cherry glen farm chevre, coffee soil, asparagus
This was one of my faves, although I think I'm alone on this one. It combined all the cool cooking techniques of molecular gastronomy (e.g.: mousse, freeze-drying, dehydrating, etc.) all in one plate.

Foie gras crystal lettuce, gala apple, brioche
This one was a little strange. The best part of foie gras is the warm, creaminess of it, so when the foie gras came freeze dried, me and my dinner mates thought it was weird, but I still ate it up!

Red wattle pork belly cherry, cranberry beans, stewed mustard
The pork belly was cooked to perfection! Nice and crispy (and fatty)!

Whitmore farm rabbit prosciutto, kalamata olive, cassoulet of summer beans, marjoram
This dish reminded me of a Hillshire Farm kielbasa.

Lamb cheek, ratatouille, baby spinach, squash blossom
More flowers which N. dutifully picked out

Wagyu beef tenderloin, salt crusted potatoes, purple turnip, pickled mustard
At this point, Judy was getting really full so I ate half of hers as well! How could you not finish wagyu beef? That ought to be a crime!

"Wedge salad"
This is was a deconstructed wedge salad where all the elements were freeze dried. We weren't fans and by the looks of it, it didn't look like the other guests enjoyed it that much either. The lettuce was watery and the freeze dried blue cheese was too sharp, although I did eat the freeze dried bacon on the top. ;)

Coconut, lavender, vanilla
The first of the desserts. This was totally awesome. My overall favorite of the evening.  I would go back for this dessert in a minute if I could! The dessert smelled of lavender revealing a cool ice cream-like center. It was awesome!

Dulce de leche honey, lime, pineapple
This dessert was good too! The dulce de leche gelatin reminded me a tootsie roll and the decorative cookie crisp was delicious!

Yellow corn, blackberry, sorrel
This one reminded me of cobbler. The corn cake and fruit compote were the perfect pair.


Chocolates, candies, and macaroons
Lastly, we were offered this assortment as a finishing touch to a great experience. They even gave us a box to take home which I shared with Justin and Jill.

As Judy told me, this isn't the type of place you go to everyday (it's defnitely molecular gastronomy to the extreme), but if you're looking for delicious, creative (and filling!) food, I would definitely recommend Volt's Table 21.

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