This year Kirios decided to surprise ME with a fancy meal out for HIS birthday. He refused to tell me where we were going, but told me it was fancy and somewhere I wanted to go. Obviously that meant it would be somewhere expensive… I was hoping that Kirios had scored coveted reservations to Rasika, the highly regarded Indian restaurant on the top of my “fancy/expensive places I’d like to go one day” list. (I believe I’ve mentioned that on this blog before). When Kirios asked me for when he should make the reservations, only a week or so prior to his birthday, I knew that wasn’t the case. Oh well, my birthday is only 4 months away! At that point, I had no clue where we were going and the possibilities seemed endless. A few days before, Kirios blocked off about an hour to travel to our restaurant on our calendar – this didn’t limit things too much, since Metro is quite unreliable over the weekends. But when Kirios said we wouldn’t be metroing into DC I had another guess as to where we’d be going.
Two days before our birthday date, Kirios said we needed to pick up a bottle of wine for his friend/colleague and his wife because we’d be visiting them in Frederick, MD after our meal – confirming my suspicions that we were headed to Volt. Volt is a fine-dining farm to table restaurant owned by its head chef Bryan Voltaggio. Bryan was the runner up on season six of Top Chef, my guilty TV watching pleasure. Bryan’s younger brother Michael beat him out to claim the Top Chef title that season in an exciting battle showcasing their differing culinary strengths. Obviously I’ve wanted to go to Volt ever since, but it had been extremely difficult to get a reservation for some time after all the TV hype, not to mention the $95 price tag for their seven course kitchen menu. Yes, even the vegetarian food is $95 per person. Luckily, Kirios made brunch reservations, allowing us to order from the much more reasonable $35 pre fixe menu.
Kirios and I arrived in Frederick early, anxious for our reservations. We walked around Market Street, downtown Frederick’s main drag, peering into the cute storefronts. Since it was significantly colder weather that day, we stopped in Café Nola, a coffeehouse/restaurant/bar, for a warm beverage. The café had a bustling brunch crowd of its own and looked like a nice spot to catch live music in the evenings. We split a soy “Ninja Turtle;” a latte with hazelnut, caramel, and chocolate. We were in an indulgent mood.
We walked back to Volt and admired its garden as we walked in. If only it were warmer out… Our table wasn’t ready yet, so we sat at the bar by in Lounge and ordered cocktails. Kirios probably ordered something strong and manly. I got a drink called “Airmail,” since, you know, I work for the Postal Service. It was flavorful, bubbly, and served in a champagne glass. We were seated by the window and given bread sticks with sea salt to munch on while we looked over the menu. After much deliberation we ordered. A waitress came around with a bread basket for us to pick a roll from. There were several which looked tasty, some with fresh herbs. Since it was brunch, I opted for a biscuit. Kirios had a sticky bun with pecans. Perhaps our biggest complaint of the whole meal was that the bread (and later the donuts) weren’t warm when served to us. They did however come with deliciously flavored butter. I don’t usually butter my bread but Kirios insisted I try it. Unfortunately, I can’t remember what flavor it was, perhaps lavender.
My first course was ravioli with sweet corn, green garlic, and chanterelle mushrooms. There was foam on the side of the plate – I wasn’t sure which ingredient was foamed, but it tasted good with everything else on the plate. It reminded me of Marcel, and old Top Chef cheftestant known for being unable to resist foaming at least on ingredient on every dish he served. Overall, the ravioli was tasty, but left me wanting more food. Kirios’ first course was salsify with apple, country ham, and hazelnut. I won’t pretend that we weren’t expecting some salsa-like dish, but we soon learned that salsify is in fact an edible root. Kirios went with it and dug in. Also served with our first course was an a la cart item Kirios ordered – maple glazed bacon donuts. Since they had bacon, I didn’t try any, but Kirios insisted they were the best donuts he’d ever have. (But should have been warm) He saved one to enjoy with each of his courses and was a happy birthday boy.
My entrée was rockfish with artichoke, maroon carrot, fennel, and basil. I was surprised and excited that rockfish, a local treasure, was featured on the menu. And it was cooked perfectly. The vegetables were simple, not to over shine the fish, simmering in broth next to the fish. The portion wasn’t large, but it was adequate for a fancy restaurant. Kirios ordered rabbit (which made me a little sad, since they’ve always been my favorite animals and I used to sleep with a bunny puppet/security blanket). His rabbit was served with maitake mushrooms, english peas, green garlic, and pearl onions. Kirios loved the mushrooms and claimed the onions were the best he’d ever had. (Kirios is not an onion fan, and the onions weren’t listed as an ingredient when he ordered the dish.) Unfortunately he was unimpressed with the rabbit itself which evidently just tasted like chicken.
I would feel bad for Kirios being let down by the rabbit dish, but he had another maple bacon donut and perked back up quickly. Before our last course, a waiter brought out a dish of orange flavored liquid nitrogen ice cream and orange dark chocolate shavings with a candle to wish him a happy birthday. Interestingly enough, this is exactly the flavors and type of dessert I’ve enjoyed with Kirios and his dad in the past, just a bit fancier. I knew he was enjoying it.
Finally it was time for our last course. We shared one cheese plate and one sweet dessert. The cheese plate featured five domestically produced cheeses; one cheddar, one Parmesan style, one blue cheese, one Camembert style, and one brie style. The cheeses were served with walnut raisin toast. Our sweet dessert dish was raspberry sorbet and fresh raspberries with vanilla ice cream, frozen shortbread, and basil granite. It was quite tasty. Kirios had a double espresso to finish the meal, and added the final crumbs from his maple bacon glazed donuts to his cup. Our check came out with mini coffee cakes packaged up to go – a perfect tea time snack.
Kirios and I walked .2 miles from the restaurant to visit our friends. We shared the coffee cake with them – I had a slice. I didn’t eat for the rest of the day.
Happy 26th birthday, Kirios! Here’s to many more tasty birthday celebrations!