Range - new Bryan Voltaggio place in Chevy Chase
Video here: http://live.washingtonpost.com/ask-to...
I live nearby so and I've been to Volt, so I have high hopes, though I have to admit that it sort of sounds like "all trends to all people." Snout-to-tail, salumeria, raw bar, wood-burning oven, etc. Curated retail store in partnership with Williams & Sonoma. At the moment, the decor looks sterile & bland. Nonetheless, can't wait to try it.
The food is good, tapas style but it loses all the homey-ness, closeness of Volt. It feels like it's in an LA mall, lots of light, lots of chrome, lots of windows--a place to see and be seen. Too many helpers all over gave it kind of a frenetic feel. My husband said it feels like a high end cafeteria. I'm a huge fan of Bryan Voltaggio and the menu seems like it could be amazing and probably would be if he were solely in charge. But, there are too many people involved and its quality is hit or miss. Some dishes are underseasoned, some overly. I think what is missing vs. what you get at Volt is how to put the food together--at Volt, as the person gives you a dish, you can be given direction on it. At Range, the dish is put down, description recited. Some elements were really salty but if you put it together in the right bite, it worked perfectly but it took experimenting.
Quick synopsis of what we had:
beet salad--I know people say this is overdone but when you have ripe beets, perfectly roasted w/ burrata cheese, it's unbeatable.
fried brussel sprouts--served w/ fish sauce vinaigrette. My husband loved this, I thought it was a little salty but a perfect accompaniment to the sweet breads.
Sweet breads--we loved these at Volt so had to have them here, too. They didn't disappoint. Melt in your mouth, sublime.
cured wild salmon--the salmon itself was wonderful, put together w/ frisee gave it nice textural contrast. However, there were super salty fried capers that overwhelmed if you had more than one per bite.
bone marrow--the bone marrow itself melted in your mouth but had little seasoning. It was topped w/ a lot of caramelized onions which overwhelmed the marrow. The bread served with it was delicious. I wish we had ordered something from the bakery.
grilled octopus--octopus perfectly cooked, delicious but again, not enough seasoning but I loved the grilled taste.
Donuts w/ cheesecake ice cream and grapes. Donut was good but the center had this warm custard that we first thought was raw dough. The cheesecake ice cream was served on graham crackers, next to grapes and it was like a cheesecake. That part was very good.
Caramel pots de creme, served w/ bitter chocolate ice cream and four bites of square cake. We were joking that the desserts were like a Chopped dessert, a little ice cream, a little something else all on one plate.
I would definitely go back. It was really hard to decide what to order because so much of it sounds good. We shared six dinner plates and two desserts with two adults and it was just enough, although we probably could have had another plate and/or dessert. I would love to try dishes from the salumeria. If we lived nearby, we'd probably be regulars.
The sweetbread is delicious. One of the best if not the best I've had. The kimchi linguini had only some sea urchin foam, which is disappointing. Good roasted oysters, monkfish and swordfish. The worst dish was the ribeye cap, a little tough. The prior menu looked more interesting than the current one.
I was there for their soft opening on Wednesday, and I have to say that this place is definitely meat-centric. The place even smells intoxicatingly like roasting pork! Everything we ate was very good, although the rabbit was a triumph. Even though this place is massive, the designers have worked hard to make it feel intimate and they did a good job. The tables are nicely spaced (not too close) and the whole place just feels comfortable. Definitely a place to hang out in and eat. Although the wait staff describe the menu as small plate, the individual plates are generous. I couldn't help wishing we had brought along a friend or two then we could have sampled more. We will definitely be returning although not as soon as I would like - it looks as if they are filling seats well into the new year.
It looks like the menu is way too big for everything to be excellent. I haven't been to VOLT but have been to Family Meal and loved it, but the menu isn't huge. Seems like this could be mediocre - I hope it's not, but even given the location it'll be packed. That area needs restaurants.