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Nov 4, 2012 01:58 PM

(Volt) Family Meal, Frederick

Hard to believe that there isn't a thread on this board yet about Family Meal, so this NJ 'hound figured she'd get one going. I had the pleasure of dining there a few days before Sandy hit, and have continued to think, "Wow, I wish we had this in northern NJ..." For those who aren't aware of the place, it's Bryan Voltaggio's newest spot, a free-standing, bustling, fun place with a true eye on quality and hospitality.

We went for dinner, and since we arrived early, started at the counter/bar. Not the usual selection of brands, but there's are some excellent spirits (I didn't look at wines) back there! I was thrilled to see Root Liquor was being used in one of their 'adult milkshakes' as it was an indication to me about the quality of the spirit choices. I went with their rum cocktail which was perfect--not super sweet, with seasonal fruit and ginger beer. Excellent entry point, imo.

My family is still talking about the chicken pot pie fritters. This is not something I would normally order but OMG. Fantastic mouthful of chicken pot pie, and each one had at least one pea inside, which both made me laugh and again told me there's great attention to detail here. I won't run through every morsel we ate, but the standouts were those fritters, the rye cavatelli with chorizo and lima beans, the bbq pork (w/excellent cole slaw), and the pork chop w/black-eyed peas. Desserts were stellar, and I'm NOT a sweet eater, so it's really unusual for me to even care about the dessert menu. Nothing was super sweet (except for the sweet potato casserole, which was a side dish that should be on the dessert menu, imo) and I enjoyed tastes of the apple cobbler and hazelnut donuts (serious choc for those who need it), but the lemon tart really knocked me out, particularly b/c it was paired with a stunning, TART cranberry sorbet.

In short, this is a place I wish I had near where I live...comfort food done on a level that exceeds your local spot, reasonably priced, and in a lively atmosphere! Next time I get down there I'll stay at the counter, as it's fun to watch the action.

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  1. we're going there saturday - glad to see a great review!

    3 Replies
      1. re: nickdanger

        Don't miss the fried chicken is right! t's the best I've ever had. Plus, don't be afraid to box leftovers and bring them home. The chicken was still surprisingly delicious and moist after we reheated it the next day. The entrees are great for sharing and I would recommend the Rockfish as a second dish. Lastly, try the Chicken Pot Pie Fritters as an appetizer. They are the perfect bites.

        1. re: nickdanger

          I don't eat fried chicken.... but I'm sure it's good!

      2. This looks fantastic. Must see if my family can meet up there for a meal.l.

        1. Went for lunch yesterday. Made a reservation which you really do need - people who didn't have reservations had to wait for tables, though not too long. We didn't know that the place was in an old light-industrial part of town. It was an old car dealership. So lots of hard surfaces - concrete floors, wood table tops, big glass windows - and high ceiling = NOISY. We were greeted warmly and despite a bit of obvious disorganization at the host desk, we were made to feel welcome while they rearranged two two-tops for us. Wait staff also very friendly and pleasant. They seem to enjoy working there. Food was not as good as expected. The chicken pot pie fritters were way too salty. My chopped salad was very fresh and lightly dressed. The menu said it came with salami, which I asked them to hold. They did - but then dumped in tons of tiny cubes of flavorless cheese that I had to eat around. My fish tacos were fantastic. Small cubes of cobia, perfectly cooked, atop soft corn tacos with bits of chopped onion, cilantro, jalapeno. Really tasty and a nice, light lunch. The fresh-squeezed lemonade was great. Mother had the crabcake appetizer which she said was terrific and she's never happy with anything. She even said that the kale topping was great. It was identified as locinato kale (or dinosaur kale) and said to be sweeter and more delicate than curly kale. She also had the pastrami sandwich which was basically a Reuben - very good (albeit somewhat too salty) pastrami with Gruyere and sauerkraut. We all tasted it and agreed that it was very good. Husband had the fried chicken. Meh. First off, it was like half a chicken. Way too much. And fried chicken does not travel well, so taking some home was not an appealing option. It was juicy but flavorless. The coating was not crisp. It wasn't served hot enough. We were not impressed. This is a much bally-hooed dish at Family Meal so we were expecting better. The biscuits were also meh. Service was fine except that it took 20 minutes after all else was served and eaten before the pastrami sandwich arrived. The waitress said she'd check on it and apologized for the delay but still it was not fun to sit and wait for 20 mintues at the table after we'd finished eating the rest of the meal. All this was $81 including tax and tip.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Just Visiting

            Had the same experience with the chicken pot pie fritters when we visited a few months ago. Told the waitress after eating only one; her response was, "yeah, a lot of people say they're too salty." Ummm...OK.

            Opposite experience with the fried chicken, though - moist and full of flavor. Hopefully they haven't changed the recipe recently! I'd get that again, but definitely not the fritters...