My brother and I stopped in for brunch today, without reservations. The only available seating was in the bar area, but with a full menu. That was fine with us, we were just out spending the day in Frederick. We both got the 3 course prix fixe menu and agreed our first course (Sheep's milk cavatelli with country ham, broccoli rabe and parmesan) was the best. My lobster & asparagus omelet was good, it had a yummy light cheese sauce on top and I ended with goat cheesecake. The breads were so-so, like they may have been leftovers from the previous night. Service was top-notch. I see others complaining about it here, but we had no complaints at all (yeah, the outfits on the wait staff ARE ugly).
Ate just last night in Volt's dining room. Got to agree with everyone about the dining room service: stiff, awkward and pretentious waiter kinda ruined it. Previously only eaten in bar/lounge area and service was terrific. I think about those Red Robin and other chain restaurant teambuilding impromptu meeting where they're all clapping & revving up, and visualize the Volt dining room version: ok team, haughty, mumble, and for Godsakes don't be gracious now go! Food was grrreat, too bad service so goofy.
cariF - and isn't this odd? Usually if you eat in a bar area, food service is an afterthought. Staff there is more focused on pushing alcohol. Yet at Volt, the service in the bar could not be better, but the dining room staff is too full of itself. Odd. I guess I'm glad my first experience at the restaurant was in the bar area, or I might never have gone back no matter how great the food. And the food at Volt is VERY good (thought that foam thing was going out of style, though.)
Everyone here is absolutely on target with their assessments of Volt. Have had lunch twice there now and while both experiences were pleasant enough, I walked away with a nagging feeling and now I know what it is: This place is seriously lacking warmth and graciousness. The servers are SOOOO stiff and SOOO serious -- a reflection of the chef, his marching orders, and possibly the work environment? This is mere speculation on my part, but something needs to change.
As far as the food goes, I have some genuine and memorable highlights -- the cavatelli, the halibut, the goat cheesecake. But the foam, as an earlier poster pointed out, needs to go. We also were sent home with a coffee cake -- a complimentary parting gift -- that was stale and dry. Maybe my expectations were too high going in, but it seems as if the restaurant is resting on its famous laurels rather than truly aspiring to be a place worth returning to. I wonder if the chef reads these boards? He should and should take this constructive criticism to heart. Volt is good but it could be so much better.
On a side note: We have upcoming reservations for Table 21 but I'm rethinking them. Don't want to be disappointed...and I'm afraid I will be.
jme90, did you do Table 21 in the end?
I've had brunch there and it was fine but not earth-shattering. I wouldn't drive there from DC or Baltimore if I were living there JUST for brunch.
I've also had Table 21 twice and liked it, did not think either one were the best meal ever - but I did not expect that, even though the 1st time I was quite curious about it from the accolades they had received. Individual courses - for me, some hits, some brilliant ones, some misses.
Service the 1st time (late fall 2010) was impeccable.
Service the 2nd time (mid 2011) was somewhat stiff and patchy in warmth, so to speak, and actually negligent at the end, when I had to go up to the FOH and ask them to distribute the menus that I knew they normally give out to patrons of Table 21. (The sommelier/lead server was busily conversing with one of the diners) The other diners at the Table were unaware of the practice and those still remaining were pleased to receive said menu but three had already just left.
Also curiously, the 2nd time I had to specifically ask for a wine pairing (whereas the 1st time it was offered by the sommelier at the time to everyone interested and wine/alcohol was discussed freely/pleasantly by him with anyone who wanted to). I also had to ask for a listing of the wine pairings I received with the courses this 2nd time but they did then oblige in a gracious manner.
I had brunch at Volt this weekend and my overall impression was that the food is somewhat better than the restaurant. Like six dower I felt the service was inexperienced and not great -- but the dirty converse sneakers and ill-fitting slacks/button-downs were reflective of the weird mix of formal/informal I think Volt is trying hard to balance.
Highlights -- Shiitake veloute that was rich and flavorful without being too heavy. Four-minute eggs whose flavor was enough to make me believe some of the hype about super-fresh/local eggs. An impeccably cooked, shockingly tender hanger steak with great beef flavor. A nice cheese plate of all-American selections, surprisingly good. Side of smoked bacon that was exactly the right smoky/sweet balance, and very crisp, not too thick-cut.
Lowlights -- cocktail program (really very little that was interesting -- a fairly standard Manhattan, dark & stormy, etc.), with a strange emphasis on super-sweet cocktails (including one with Godiva chocolate liqueur and espresso? ick) (I had something with Lillet and Domaine de Canton that was pretty forgetatble). A bizarre beef cheek omelet containing just a few shreds of beef whose flavor was totally overwhelmed by a super-sharp cheddar cheese (might have been a bad choice on my part). Strange bread service (ice cold butter; supermarket-quality cinnamon roll; 'rosemary' roll with no trace of rosemary flavor; though the biscuits were excellent!).
I don't know if I'd go back. It was a pleasant, bright space but the amateur-ish service seemed at odds with the atmosphere. The brunch menu seems to bounce back and forth between comfort-food favorites with little embellishment or surprise (corned-beef hash; chicken sausage -- you order these things knowing exactly what you're going to get) and slightly higher-end gussied-up lunch dishes like the shiitake veloute or a tuna tartare. That said, at I think $35 for three courses a la carte, not a bad deal at all (if you don't mind the drive). I'll have to do a bit more research before deciding if dinner would be a worthwhile venture.
228 North Market Street, Frederick, MD 21701
I tried Volt for brunch today...
Plus: Bread options w/ fab butter, tea selection, great wine list, main course sea bass, french toast - like heaven
Minus: Service - stiff and akward...servers wear UGLY brown shirts and grey slacks with dirty chuck taylor tennis shoes, appetizer - poached egg was not cooked, breadsticks that are presented during seating - taste similar to cardboard with sea salt, dessert of chocolate tasting - not worth it. The additional dessert options did not sound interesting.
upon arrival, I asked the hostess about the menu and what are her favorites from the menu. She stated that she had not eaten at Volt, explaining that she was new. When I asked how long she has been at Volt, she replied over a month. Hmmmm???
Overcharged for the brunch by a few dollars. Not sure if I will give it another go.