Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Rest of the Story

Now that it's been a couple days since our amazing dinner, I'm ready to tell you more about it. Overall, it was a wonderful meal. It lived up to the five-plus months of anticipation since I had made the reservation.

Dan, Ann, Mark and I went to Volt, Bryan Voltaggio's (made famous by the reality show Top Chef and recent James Beard Award nominee) restaurant in Frederick, Maryland on Friday and at ate at 'Table 21,' where you are served a chef-selected 21-course dinner.

Table 21 is not a table but really a counter with seating for eight around the edge of the kitchen. Our view for the three hours we were there was of the prep area for our dishes as well as dishes for other diners. We got to observe Chef Bryan and his staff create some of the best looking food I'd ever seen. The kitchen was quiet, not like any yelling matches you might see in the movies or on Hell's Kitchen.

The cuisine was new and high-tech, not the family staples your grandmother made. Each of the dishes were planned and executed with great care, even the garnishes, from fresh local products. At one point I stole and ate a leaf from Dan's plate. Chef Bryan caught me. We were then treated to a lesson about how he chooses the garnishes, they are meant to be eaten, enhance the dish visually and provide an element to the flavor profile of the dish. The sorrel leaf I nicked had been soaked in red liquid (I forget what kind, beet juice maybe) so the veins turned red, very pretty, very tasty.

Chef Bryan used a lot of things that were unexpected, such as macaroons made from vegetables and 'dippin' dots' made from tomato sauce. When they melted on the hot chicken and noodles, it blended into his wonderful take on Chicken Parmesan.

One of my favorite dishes was the goat cheese ravioli with the 'soy air,' foam made from soy sauce. The first fish dish was also up there on the favorite list, the hiramasa. It was delicate and moist. Then favorite list gets cloudy, I cannot rank anything after that. Except for the sweetbreads (at the bottom) and the seared lamb, which I didn't even try. I've got major texture issues, and it was very raw.

Save room for dessert. There were five dessert courses, the cheese cake was probably the best and the strawberry noodles were probably the most unusual.

We were offered coffee and tea with our desserts. I chose tea. This is the part of the whole affair I was disappointed with. I asked for Earl Gray and received a tea that was so strong I couldn't drink it, and it wasn't even Earl, it was Lapsang-Souchong. I really dislike people who presume they know how I like my tea better than I do. Please, let me brew it myself. It left a bitter taste in my mouth, literally. The waiter brought me another pot of tea, but it wasn't any better. There were enough tea leaves in the basket to brew about 8 cups of tea.

Dinner at Table 21 is $121 per person plus drinks, tax, and tip. Yes, I would eat there again, I'd love to try other dishes as the seasons change, but I wouldn't drink the tea.



AM Kingsfield said...

I think that ravioli is on their regular menu. The problem with the tasting menu is that if you love it, you can't have more. But I was delighted by the whole experience. Thank you so much for inviting us!

VE said...

So...you're saying you couldn't get a refund because the tea sucked...