Sietsema reviews VOLT

VOLT gets 2.5 stars from Tom Sietsema, the restaurant reviewer for the Washington Post.  He also calls VOLT “one of the most interesting restaurants in the state”.

Volt will come as no surprise to anyone who knows its chef, Bryan Voltaggio, a protege of a celebrity chef in Manhattan (Charlie Palmer) and veteran of some well-known restaurants (Aureole in New York, Charlie Palmer Steak in Washington). Ever since his final year at the Culinary Institute of America in 1999, when he was required to build a restaurant in theory, Voltaggio says, “I always knew I’d end up” in Frederick. The chef was born there. He met his wife there. And now, at age 32 and with the help of a co-owner, he’s feeding its denizens and area chowhounds in a 19th-century mansion that serves as a grand backdrop to one of the most interesting restaurants in the state.

You may need to do the free registry at the WaPo website to read the whole article.

Lizfrog

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0 thoughts on “Sietsema reviews VOLT

  1. That’s what I predicted right here in FMO.

    Some may think 2.5 stars is low–the equivalent of 62.5 percent, or an “F,” but actually it’s quite good because the scale isn’t linear. Getting that last 0.5 stars is really, really difficult. Even the great Greek eatery Komi “only” rated 3.5 stars.

    Among the few DC area establishments meriting his fourth star is the fantastic CityZen, Inn at Little Washington, and Restaurant Eve’s Tasting Room. Rare company indeed.

    Congrats to Volt!

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  2. Yeah, that’s right Matthew. Your prediction was spot on!

    I thought the review was very good and fair. I have heard the complaints about the service several times and from going ourselves, I’m sure it’s safe to say they have worked those problems out.

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  3. Had dinner there saturday a week ago and all was fantastic. Service was unreal especially for Frederick and the Food was outstanding, definitley worth it..

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  4. I had dinenr there Friday night to celebrate my sister’s birthday. We got a table smack in the middle of the kitchen. It was a great experience to witness the detail and care paid to each plated course. Everything tasted amazing and the experience was completely worth it. I had no complaints about the service. I cant really think of any other place in Frederick where you would even get comparable service.

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  5. We gave Volt another try this weekend. This time we just hung out in the bar and ordered a few things and had some drinks. What a difference from our 1st visit at the Chef’s table. The service we receive this past weekend is what I expected the 1st time we went. Bryan came out and talked to us for a few and sent out some of the icecream sandwiches they were selling at in the street. I saw a few new faces on the staff, seems that they are working out the service issues.

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  6. @Jim, we went back to VOLT tonight and I do believe the drink prices were lower than they were the first time we went.

    We went for Jim’s birthday this time and when he made the reservation, he specified that he wanted a table in the chef’s kitchen. When we got there, they started to seat us in the a la carte dining room and I told the hostess how we reserved a table in the chef’s kitchen. It turns out the chef’s kitchen was reserved for a party of 17 and they hadn’t noted that we had wanted a table in there. They asked us to to wait in the bar while they talked to the manager. While we were waiting, Aaron the sommelier came into the bar and we asked if we could do the chef’s tasting menu in the dining room and he told us “no problem”.

    So we were very surprised when the manager came to get us at the bar and told us our table was ready in the chef’s kitchen. Aaron mentioned how we had the best table in the house and I was very surprised when they led us to a table in the actual kitchen. We were literally sitting in the space between the cooking area and the prep area. Right in the kitchen!

    At first I felt like our table was in the way of all the prep work but the staff didn’t miss a beat and just moved around us.

    The wine pairings are impeccable with the food and anyone who leaves hungry must have hollow legs because I ordered the 5-course meal and was full after the second course, stuffed after the 3rd. By the time the 4th course came, I was tempted to open the button on my pants!!

    I can assure you that any service issues they had at VOLT as mentioned by other commenters here and in the Sietsema review are a thing of the past. I’ve never felt so taken care of at any restaurant I’ve ever been to before.

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  7. I can’t wait to go to Volt ! You all seem to really like it – and I have actually had a ‘taste’ of Bryan’s talents years ago when he was with Charlie Palmer’s. Anyway – trying to decide for our anniv. this wkend – dinner Sat eves OR Sun Brunch ?? Although the bar for Sat eves sounds enticing… Anyone been to brunch yet?
    Thanks!

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  8. Matthew,

    Liz can respond also but i went with my fam for a birthday. We had the same table right next to the Chef in the prep area. 4 5-course tasting menu plus 2 wine pairings set us back over $400. But completely worth it if youre a foodie and you appreciate what a master chef does and you want to see it up close.

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  9. @crazy, I haven’t been for brunch yet. That’ll be next. I highly recommend the dinner though, especially for a special occasion. Be prepared for a 2-3 hour dinner. It’s certainly not fast food, and I mean that in a good way!! 🙂

    @ Matthew, I agree with Sean that the meal is worth the cost but there are lots of ways to eat at VOLT that can keep the cost down. We had 2 cocktails, a 5-course and 7-course with wine pairings. Eating in the lounge or going a la carte are options, as well as either lunch or brunch.

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  10. Well- three of us ate there last Friday for lunch – and we were ready to be “wowed”!! Sadly, we weren’t. And, it wasn’t the food that disappointed – no, it was delicious. Rather, once again, it was the service that was the downfall.

    We waited more than 10 minutes to be offered water. And, then when it was poured – it was a tad warm. No ice was offered. After another 10 minutes, with no refill, I asked for more water and some ice. The water came. No ice. 15 minutes later, the ice arrived.

    The food took more than 20 minutes to arrive at the table. IF this were a leisurely dinner with wine – that wouldn’t have been a big issue. But, this was a lunch – and we were a bit weary of waiting.

    The food was very good. Fish seared beautifully and cooked perfectly, chicken moist and full of flavor.

    But, the occasion warrants service commensurate with the cost of the meal. For a $25 lunch – I expected water refills and more attentive staff.

    Oh, and by the way – to my surprise – they charged us $1 each for the water (even without ice!)…

    And, no chocolate with our bill either….

    Wah. Not sure that I want to spend $100 per person for dinner if lunch is any indication of what to expect….

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  11. StorageLady, the menu clearly states (even online) that they charge $1 for the water. Taken from the website:

    “volt uses a purification system from natura to bottle our own water. We offer
    both sparkling and still for a 1.00 charge per person for unlimited service”

    I took that quote from their online lunch menu.
    http://www.voltrestaurant.com/menuslunch.htm

    When we went, they left the bottles on the table so we could re-fill ourselves. Sorry you didn’t have a great experience. I can’t speak to the lunch service since we’ve only been for dinner.

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  12. None of the three of us saw the charge on the menu – it may have been there, but we all missed it if it was.

    Really, a buck isn’t that much – it’s just that being charged was a surprise to us. Plus – they didn’t leave the bottles for us so that we could refill…

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  13. Thanks for the link to the blog post about the water. We did figure that the ice probably wasn’t filtered and that’s why we weren’t given any. I suppose it would have been ok if the refills had been frequent and plentiful so that the water didn’t get to room temp so quickly. Then we wouldn’t have needed the ice!

    Sadly, the service problems extended far beyond just the water temperature. I didn’t even mention a host of other service missteps during our lunch there.

    I’m not giving up on them entirely. But, I am waiting for them to get their act together before I drop the big bucks for dinner.

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  14. My husband I went after hearing all the buzz, the food was good, as we had expected with all the talk but the service was just down right pathetic. It maybe that the chef just doesn’t have the right people or could be that he is blinded by loyalty because it’s obvious that Hilda just doens’t know high end restaurant biz, we suggest that he send her off to New York to watch how the pro’s do it. In the past twenty years of marraige my husband and I have been blessed with the ability to travel and eat at many fine restaurants and the one thing we always look for is “who is running the service side”, a chef has to much to do and it’s up to his partner to make sure that service is exceptional, we both feel that Hilda just doesn’t fit the bill and if Volt is to succeed than she should step back and admit her inability to get the job done. After reading all the posts and hearing the same thing “service poor” it would seem to me that something drastic should be done before it goes to far. You can’t expect people to spend hard earned money and be treated poorly, might as well go to Denny’s and give them an extra hundred bucks and call it even. One example of exceptional service was a diner at a fine french restaurant in Pound Ridge New York, our server stood by the wall watching his patrons and was quick to fill the water glass or get anything we need to make the diner truely a memoriable expierence, I suggest Chef B take a trip north to see how they have overcome the slow down in the market by providing above board service. 2.5 half stars is 1.5 stars more than we would have given them. Frederick maybe ready for a fine restaurant like volt but they sure don’t get fine service.

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  15. Janice, Wow! You must have had a really tough night at Volt. I have been there at leat 8-10 times and though the service started out uneven, it’s generally very good now. What specifically went wrong? There are no details above other than suggesting Hild be sent to New York.

    Volt and the suggestion that one “might as well go to Denny’s and give them an extra hundred bucks and call it even.”

    I too have travelled the world and dined extensively at terrific restaurants. I detest poor and impersonal service. I have high expectations and am considered tough on restaurant service by my friends and colleagues. What I admire about the Volt ownership and staff is the personal energy they put into making me (their patron) happy. For me it keeps getting better every time out.

    I am lucky I guess. I must be. They have gone way beyond your service goal to “fill the water glass or get anything we need to make the diner (sic) a memoriable (sic) experience.”

    Bill

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  16. Had our 3 rd visit to Volt this weekend and the food was on target. We just hung out in the bar and had a few drinks and some food. Bryan stopped by twice to check on us and sent out a few extras. He has the whole concept down. I somewhat agree with regards to the Hilda comment from Janice. She seems nice enough but she just doesn’t seem to know how to run the service side. I almost think they should have a service manager in each area of the place and maybe Hilda could deal more with the meeting and greeting of the customers. Even in the bar area the service is inconsistent between servers and they have only 2 or 3 individuals working at a time. Ben in the bar is great. I really hope the service issues get resolved, because we really enjoy the food and atmosphere. We would hate to see it fail due to the service.

    Bryan mentioned that the Fall/Winter menus will be coming out very soon and we our looking forward to some venison.

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  17. Parking is tight on the narrow alley-like space on the side of the building. If you have a large vehicle and the lot’s full, getting out could be tricky. The restaurant is an interesting old townhome-style mansion. Eating space in a main dining room is trendy modern so there’s none of the character of the of the original building. You could be anywhere. We arrived at 5:20 for a 5:30 reservation and were promptly seated. We were offered a cocktail menu and then a wine list. The wine list is reasonably extensive. We had a half-bottle of a very nice California Viognier. ($38.00). We had the fixed price four course. Presentation was trendy. Portions were small. I thought a dish or two had two much salt and no, I’m not on a low sodium diet and yes, I like an adequate amount of salt in my food. Overall, the taste of the food was not particularly memorable. For all the bustle of the wait staff and the folding of napkins left in seats when diners went to the restroom, the wait between courses was very long. We finished dessert at around 8:30 so after arriving at 5:20, four courses took almost as long in hours. At the end of the meal, the wrong dessert was brought to the table. Fearing how much longer it might take to bring the correct one, I considered not even mentioning it. Also as a final note, I ordered a single expresso. I don’t know of anyone who takes sugar with expresso but for some reason the waiter still brought some. Sugar cubes appeared to be irregular almost 1/4 inch cubes. Meal cost for fixed price four course for two with tip, excluding wine – $200.00 +.

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  18. Thought about going-read reviews on Yelp, decided I might as well eat at Subway. People have said nothing but negative things, and I have to agree. Just looking at the 1-star rating they received, made up my mind. NO THANKS!

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