As Grant mentioned in yesterday’s post, our tradition is to spend each anniversary in a different city. This “goal” came about naturally after two or three years when we were in different cities without even trying. Since we tend to travel during the summer and we rarely travel to the same place twice, this is generally not a difficult thing to do. We have celebrated in some very interesting places, most notably Ljubljana, Slovenia in 2015 and some not-so-interesting places, such as Evanston, Wy. in 2014. There is very little reason for anyone to stop in Evanston as far we can tell. The only reason we were there is because it was the first hotel we found after nearly two weeks of camping in Montana and Wyoming! We did find an interesting “supper club” for our dinner, at least.
This year our itinerary put us in Gettysburg, Penn. on our 6th anniversary. I used Open Table to search for a restaurant to make a reservation and VOLT, in Frederick, Md., about a 45 minute drive, was one of the first restaurants that came up in the list. While Gettysburg seemed like a fairly food-forward city, I guess there just aren’t that many places that accept reservations. Volt is one of five restaurants co-owned by Executive Chef Bryan Voltaggio, a Top Chef and Top Chef Master’s runner-up. As fans of both shows, we are always excited about the opportunity to eat at our favorite “cheftestant’s” restaurants.
After we made our reservation via Open Table, we received a call from the restaurant asking if we wanted to dine in the main dining room, in the Chef’s kitchen, or at the Chef’s counter. We decided to splurge since it was a special occasion and dine at the Chef’s counter. At VOLT, they call this Table 21, because it is 21 courses (including an optional drink pairing, which we again splurged on). There is seating for eight at the counter. When we started our meal, there was a group of three finishing up. About half-way through our dinner, a group of four joined us.
Sitting at this counter was probably the most interesting dining experiences either one of us has had. We were right in front of Chef Demetrius, who put the finishing touches on many dishes and plated several out-right. The cooking was done at another station, just behind him. It was interesting to see how calm the kitchen was and how clean they kept everything. Never any panic or chaos, though I guess having an audience helps with that!
We were able to talk to the chef about the dishes and the “weird” orders, such as when a vegan diner ordered “Tuna, No Tuna.” Apparently the tuna dish is served with beets, so that is what they really wanted. We also exchanged some life stories and had great conversation. This guy was amazing at being able to talk to us and also stay laser-focused on his work. Much of what he was doing was the details of placing the “toppings” with tweezers or setting the basil leaves on top at just the right angles. Again, very interesting!
We had one main server who greeted us at the beginning, served and explained most of our beverage and food courses, and generally just made sure we had a great night. There were a few others helping him and the service was absolutely flawless. As soon as one dish was finished, they cleaned it up and got the next dish out right away. We received fresh utensils, when they were needed, at each course… Apparently, you can’t eat lamb with a fork that has also been used on ravioli! Each movement was made swiftly and with precision, and we never felt like we were waiting or being rushed.
Ahhh, the food! As amazing as everything else was, the food was the real star!
We had starters of foie gras macaroons, lightly poached oysters, and tempura fried Maryland crab. This was the first time either of us had eaten foie gras, which was rich and delicious. I am not a huge fan of oysters, but slurped it down fairly easily due to the amazing preparation. The crab was a little “scary” in that it was a whole crab and you could perfectly see the entire “outline,” but it was absolutely delicious. These were all served with a champagne that was definitely the best either of us has ever had… It was actually good!
Following that we enjoyed a bread roll made from the leftover grains from Exile Red Ale by Maryland’s Evolution Craft Brewing Co. It was, of course, served with the beer made from those grains. The bread was some of the best I’ve ever had and the beer was perfect! And, yes, that is ME saying that the beer was perfect! While I enjoy tasting all of Grant’s different beers, I generally do not like beer myself.
The fish dish, cobia ceviche (pictured at the top), was one of our favorites from the meal… sliced thin and topped with pepper slices… Yum!
The vegetable dishes were a roasted pepper, a tomato “steak,” and charred cabbage. I am not a fan of tomatoes. I’ve just never liked them. So that was definitely my least-favorite dish. I did eat most of it, which is saying a lot. Usually just one bite of tomato on a sandwich and I can’t handle it. For me to eat almost all of a huge slice of one means that it had to have been fabulously prepared! Grant isn’t a fan of cabbage, and was definitely a little uneasy about that course. His critique of it… “It was fabulous!” The wine served with these dishes was a very tasty sauvignon blanc that was aged in stainless steel barrels, rather that oak barrels… That definitely gave it a very light, clean taste.
Savory courses included octopus with chorizo char, goat cheese ravioli, rockfish with bok choi and kimchi, and lamb. The octopus was perfectly cooked and not at all rubbery. The ravioli was another of my favorite dishes. The accompanying red wine was, again, and perfect match!
For dessert, we got a a bonus course of a pineapple semifreddo with toasted coconut, followed by rhubarb with a mint ice cream, a chocolate plate, an orange creamsicle and finally, a tasting of four bites. I am a dessert-loving girl, so this was heaven! The paired dessert wine was probably our least favorite part of the entire meal, as it was just too sweet for us. It did pair nicely with most of the desserts, thought… You just had to sip it at the right time!
Every part of this meal and experience was absolutely flawless. It was definitely the most expensive meal we’ve ever had and I’m sure we’ll be digging into savings to pay for it, but it was worth it! Frederick is located right near the borders of Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia, so if you’re ever in the area and want a fabulous dinner, head to VOLT!