As an avid Top Chef watcher, I was doubly intrigued when two Frederick natives were not only on the show, but made it to the very end!
Returning to his roots, runner up Bryan Voltaggio opened a restaurant downtown in an old brownstone mansion in 2008. Successful before Top Chef, Volt has become wildly popular since the show aired in 2009, with waiting lists for a reservation—some going out months if you wanted Bryan’s famed Table 21.
I was dying to try it.
In spring 2010, our neighbors had reservations for the Chef’s Dining Room and lucky for me they couldn’t go! Hearing about the opportunity, my sister, Josie,
insisted gently hinted that she should go with me, being a foodie herself. So, off we went!
The building itself is stunning, an old brick mansion … almost Gothic in appearance. The 8,000- to 10,000-square-foot neo-Romanesque brownstone was constructed in the 1890s as the residence of Frederick’s three Houck sisters and their three nieces, and over the years had been repurposed many times until being renovated especially for Volt.
Ironically, the inside of the building is quite modern, but not in an “in your face” kind of way.
The hostess weaved us through the hallway and into the Chef’s Dining Room where we were seated side-by-side at a 4-top table. Odd, right? We thought so, unless you’re honeymooners or something.
Minutes later, we understood why though: Full view of the kitchen, including Bryan who was fully invested in cooking each meal. Cool!
We FEASTED—and they easily, no graciously, accommodated Josie’s vegetarian diet throughout the courses. Yellow fin tuna tartar (for me), goat cheese ravioli, farm roasted chicken (also for me), textures of chocolate, Meyer lemon ginger ice cream … the list goes on, not to mention a wonderful wine pairing with each course, and French press coffee served table-side with dessert.
It was incredible, and all we could do to not lick each plate before the server removed them.
As if this wasn’t amazing enough, Bryan takes special care to use food that’s in season and locally grown/raised—something important to both me and my sister. That night, I left thinking: I want to go again, maybe this fall when the menu has been updated for the season.
But, the next time I went wasn’t until 2013, for the Top Chef Masters viewing party with a group of friends. What fun! We started with cocktails inside in the lounge, and then wandered out back for the outdoor celebration.
The outside courtyard is just as charming as the inside, full of ambiance with the strings of lights, the rustic brick patio and all the greenery—absolutely perfect at dusk.
If you haven’t already booked your reservation, do so. It’s a little pricey, but one advantage to having to wait a couple weeks for your reservation is that you have time to save money!