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Dining at Volt in Frederick - when to leave DC?

I'll be in DC for a conference and renting a car to drive to Frederick so that I can dine at Volt's Table 21. Very excited!

My question is more of a logistical one. If I'm leaving from the convention center and the Table 21 seating at Volt is at 7pm, what time should I leave DC? If it were up to me, I'd drive up in time for lunch and then hang out in Frederick until dinner, but since I'm in town for a conference, I can't really leave until 3-4pm. I'm currently planning to leave at 4:30.

My reservation is on a Saturday. Would there be any problems with traffic?

If I want to hop off the subway and be within walking distance of many great eateries, which stop should I get off at? I'm up for any kind of food.


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  1. There is always traffic in DC just like LA - you should be good leaving at 4:30pm

    1. You can make it if you leave by 530, but I'd leave as early as you can and walk around. Volt is on Market St which is full of fun shops. Enjoy!

      1. You'll make it in plenty of time if you leave by 4:30.

        You could leave by 5:30 and still be there in time.

        1. Thanks everyone!

          I'm from LA, so the traffic is expected. But I didn't know just how bad it might be. Many times I've been stuck on the freeway and then realizing it took me two hours to drive four miles to get cookies.

          Thanks for the reassurance that I have time. I'm going to try to leave at 4:30pm just to be sure (and to browse those shops!). I've been looking forward to this meal for a long time and I don't want to delay service for the kitchen or the four others sharing Table 21 that evening.

          8 Replies
          1. re: ah6tyfour

            Once you get out of DC traffic really opens up. It's a breeze compared to the 405 between LAX and the 101.

            1. re: ipsedixit

              If you have to take 29 to 70 expect extremely heavy traffic on 70 towards Frederick. However, I believe you can do 270, but I don't know as much about that traffic.

              1. re: ipsedixit

                Unfortunately, that is not true. Even when there are no accidents, there is always a pretty big slow-down/back-up starting from where 270 squeezes from three lanes to two. The later in the day, the longer the back-up.

                There is also pretty substantial speed limit enforcement on 270 in Montgomery County these days so keep an eye on your speed.

                I would leave at 4:30. Yes, you could leave at 5:30 and pray that there are no accidents, or you can leave earlier and not have to worry about it. And if you leave at 4:30, you are ahead of the heaviest traffic. I call it the "magic window." There is this brief maybe 10 minute window when you can sail up the road largely at speed and then 10 minutes later, that same road is getting choked.

                1. re: Just Visiting

                  His reservation is on a Saturday. If it was a weekday, this doom and gloom would be warranted but DC to Frederick on a weekend will be fine. 4:30 will probably get you there no later than 6, depending on where in DC you're coming from. I am in Gaithersburg and it never takes more than 40 minutes to get from my house to downtown Frederick.

                  1. re: Just Visiting

                    I've done that drive several times, and have had no problems making it in no more than 1.5 hours.

                    1. re: ipsedixit

                      Thanks everyone. I do hope it all works out. I'm going to be very nervous until we arrive at Volt. It probably won't be until I'm seated that I can finally relax knowing I got my entire party out of the convention and seated at Volt on time.

                      I'm essentially devoting an entire day to eating at Volt. I'll be waking up early to return to the airport to pick up my rental car, parking it at my hotel during the day, and then taking it to Frederick. Hope it's a great meal!

                        1. re: agarnett100

                          Thanks, I looked into that first, but it was cost-prohibitive because I am not a member. $60 annual fee, $25 application fee, and $10-$11 per hour (for six or seven hours).

                          Rental was $32 total and I can drive myself back to the airport the next morning, return it, and hop on my flight home.

              2. There are lots of good restaurants near the convention center, so you aren't too limited if you have to stay in that area.

                Cleveland Park has Dino's, Ripple, and Ardeo/Bardeo, plus lots of other choices.

                Voltaggio recently opened Range at Friendship Heights.

                Bethesda is crammed with restauants--your choices are wide open.

                Union Market just opened in the NoMa neighborhood and seems to be generating positive comments.

                And this was just published in today's Washington Post:

                1 Reply
                1. re: Maedl

                  Thanks very much!
                  I'm only in town for two nights (poor planning...), so I have one night to walk around and eat.

                  I want to eat everything on that list! I might try to make a google map centered around the convention center and map all those places to see which ones are close enough.

                2. leave no later than 5:30 and if you use your GPS and it wants to take you up Chain Bridge Road, do NOT go that way! Just go up to 270 - even though there are lights, it's still faster from that area - we live near the convention center and go to Frederick once in a while (never been to Volt, but have been to Family Meal - it was great) and the Chain Bridge Road way is super annoying and not convenient on a Saturday night because it takes you through Georgetown.

                  you are also near great food near the convention center in every direction. no Metro needed.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Jeserf

                    Thanks! I will be following my GPS, so I'll be sure to make note of that. I love getting advice from locals!

                    Did you try the chicken pot pie fritters at Family Meal? I hear they're incredible. I wish I could call Volt and ask that they source the fritters from Family Meal and serve them to us as a course somewhere.

                    1. re: ah6tyfour

                      I wouldn't ask them to source the fritters! When we went to Family Meal, we tried them, and they were incredibly salty. When we told the waitress, her response was, "yeah, a lot of people say that." Ugh.

                      The fried chicken, on the other hand, was fabulous!

                      1. re: Zevonista

                        That's sad to hear! Guess I'll stick with the 21 courses Chef Voltaggio thinks I should have.

                        I've eaten at Ink in LA and it was an amazing meal. It will be interesting to see how their styles differ.

                  2. The earlier, the better. Take your time and enjoy the town.

                    1. Back from my trip. Table 21 at Volt was amazing!

                      We left the convention center around 4:45pm and did exactly what you guys told me not to do. We followed the GPS up to M Street and Canal Road. It was packed beyond belief. Trying to go around it wasted 20 minutes or so and we ended right back at the start of M Street again. Even with all that, we were parked at Volt by 6:30.

                      Table 21 was an unforgettable experience. The staff is excellent and the food was mostly creative, with complex flavor combinations and artistic plating.

                      "celeriac: apple, orange, foie gras"
                      A celeriac meringue filled with foie gras. An intensely savory bite from a classically sweet item.

                      "mock oyster: salsify, oyster leaf, malt vinegar"
                      This dish was amazing. A spherified salsify liquid gave the texture of a raw oyster. The oyster leaf gave the oyster taste. The malt vinegar gave the acidity to offset to "oyster". Even the aftertaste was identical to having eaten an oyster. But the dish was entirely vegetarian. It was even served in a ceramic oyster shell so it could be slurped like an oyster. I've never had anything like it.

                      "Beets: coffee, goat's cheese, orange, sherry"
                      This was the perfect salad. The beets were sweet and cold. The goat cheese was light and airy since it had come out of the Isi Whip. Coffee grounds provided a contrasting earthiness to the surprisingly sweet beets. They managed to deliver a perfectly balanced dish using two ingredients that have a tendency to overpower a plate (beets and goat cheese).

                      "Yellowfin tuna: avocado, jasmine rice, soy"
                      This was the winner of the night. Well-flavored yellowfin tartare was wrapped in jasmine rice paper. The underlying avocado puree gave a nice richness to the dish as well as a stark color contrast. Drops of soy and citrus rounded out the flavors of the dish. Fish roe was added for texture and brininess. I could have easily eaten five more servings of this one.

                      "Scallop: sea urchin, chorizo, sea beans"
                      A perfectly cooked scallop was served over a bed of diced chorizo and topped with some sea urchin roe. Something had been done to the urchin roe to give it some body (so it wasn't just mushy), but I'm not sure what. Maybe it was quickly broiled. In any case, the scallop paired well with the salty spiciness from the chorizo and the extra hit of brine from the urchin roe. A huge amount of flavor in this dish.

                      "Sunchoke: allspice, endive, orange"
                      This was my first time tasting sunchoke and I can't imagine a better way to have tasted it. It tasted like really good pie filling. An almost dessert dish with a certain richness that was a nice break from the heavier meat dishes we had prior. I don't think anyone ever thinks of sunchoke, so all of us were confused when it was set in front of us. Was it a potato? Was it a mushroom? Oh! A sunchoke! Who would have thought?

                      "foie gras: pistachio, green apple, minus 8, brioche"
                      This one ties with the yellowfin tuna for first place. This dish was the most impressive presentation of foie gras I've ever had. It was also the most beautiful plate of the night (see attached image). Foie gras terrine set on a bed of ground pistachio on one side, minus 8 (some sort of frozen powder that had a citrus taste to it) on the other side, and brought together with green apple sorbet in the center. Served with toasted vanilla brioche, this dish was flawless. Spectacular presentation and an unbeatable combination of flavors, textures, and temperatures. Amazing.

                      "chocolate: marshmallow, peanut, caramel"
                      Out of three desserts, the final one was the standout. Marshmallow fluff was spread on a plate and caramelized with a torch. A broken chocolate cake (I assume that's what it was. It looked like a chocolate cake that had been frozen in liquid nitrogen and cracked into pieces) sat next to peanut and hazelnut gelato. A caramel sauce provided the sweetness and a hint of bitterness. This was a very well-done dessert that could have easily become too sweet.

                      Places for improvement
                      Not many! There was a celery soup that came right after the "mock oyster" that I did not like. It included some pickled vegetables on the side and they were very intensely pickled. The components did not meld and nothing stood out except the acidity of the pickle. Near the end of the meal, a similar dish was served as dessert using a celery ice cream. It was not my favorite dessert.

                      All in all, an amazing meal. Bryan Voltaggio is a genius of flavor combinations. Both he and his brother have this skill. Both Volt (Bryan) and Ink (Michael) are amazing restaurants with Volt being a bit more traditional and Ink taking more risks. It is clear that they have influenced each other and/or have been influenced by the same people. The style of plating is similar as is the tendency to lean slightly towards Asian flavors. It was an honor to have been able to dine at the restaurants of both chefs.

                      12 Replies
                      1. re: ah6tyfour

                        So glad you enjoyed, and thank you for a detailed review.

                        1. re: ah6tyfour

                          We had brunch at Volt this weekend. Also thought it was very good..especially the chocolate, caramel, marshmallow, peanut dessert! Service had a few rough spots though, which was surprising. They did acknowledge this and comped the coffee.

                          On a Sunday it took us just about an hour to drive from our hotel next to the White House.

                          1. re: ah6tyfour

                            The Yellowfin sounds like a mini version of the tartar from the dining room menu. It is perfect.

                            1. re: laststandchili

                              It was exactly half the size of the dining room version. It was interesting watching them plate the full size versions of dishes we were served. Of the apps common to both Table 21 and the regular dining room, most were exactly half size. There was a hamachi sashimi course where we received three slices of fish while the full size was five, so that one was more than half size. The heavier dishes we received maybe quarter-portions.

                              The foie gras dish was actually full size. It was plated differently (the Table 21 version was actually more impressive), but the amount of foie, accompanying components, and vanilla brioche was identical. And it's a good thing too. Because I'm not sure I could have stopped at just a half portion!

                              The last dessert with the marshmallow fluff was also full size.

                            2. re: ah6tyfour

                              I just have to chime in that my husband and I had dinner at Volt on Mother's Day (but we were actually celebrating our anniversary). We splurged, spending more than we've ever spent on dinner having the tasting menu + wine pairing. He got the omnivore and I got the vegetarian tasting menu. Everything was outstanding, including the service. My favorite of all was one of the veggie courses that was not shared by the omnivore menu-- a plate of carrots. Yes carrots. But they were slow roasted until they were almost like meat, covered with "coffee dirt" (perhaps like your beets). Even my husband, who can't abide coffee, thought it was terrific. All in all, a really fun splurge. The wine pairings were very good (well they should be, at $65 per person); the only catch was that the sommelier seemed a bit "green" to us (he couldn't have been more than 25 years old and seemed to be a bit under-confident).

                              1. re: ah6tyfour

                                Looks like a great experience. How long did the meal take?

                                1. re: Ponder99

                                  This was a while back, but I think the total time was just under three hours. In the best possible way, it felt like a meal that was never going to end. I remember there was a moment where I thought we should be pretty darn close to the end of a very satisfying meal (maybe course 18 or so), but it turned we were only on 14 and weren't even all the way through with the main entrees yet.

                                  The whole meal was excellent and I still think about some of those dishes.

                                  1. re: ah6tyfour

                                    "it felt like a meal that was never going to end. "

                                    That's exactly how I felt, too! It was delicious and adventurous but it went on and on and in the middle, we wondered how far along we were. I told my husband it was like running a marathon!

                                    1. re: ah6tyfour

                                      Thank! I'm going to be in DC for a conference and thinking about renting a car just for the day to be able to do Table 21 at Volt.

                                      Any tips for getting the reservation? Was it necessary to call exactly at 9AM local time 1 month prior to the date?

                                      1. re: Ponder99

                                        It's definitely worth the trouble. And I had to take a bus back to Dulles airport to pick up my car, drive it back to DC, and then out to Volt that evening!

                                        It is pretty important to call as close to 9AM EST as possible. You should probably call more than a month out to ask about the policy and make sure it has not changed. For me, I called (and got no answer) from 9:00-9:10am, someone picked up at 9:10am, and I was able to book the last four seats for Table 21 one month away. I spoke to their reservations line while I was planning my strategy and they said that Table 21 is usually booked within the first hour lines are open (and often within the first 10-15 minutes).

                                        When you reserve, ask for the part of the bar directly facing the plating station (closest to where the waiters bring food from the kitchen to the table). I think those seats have a better view of the entire kitchen.

                                        1. re: ah6tyfour

                                          @ah6tyfour: I was able to get the reservation very easily. Thanks for the advice and details.

                                          Anyone have suggestions on when to leave the Woodley Park area to make it to Fredrick in time for a 5:30PM Saturday reservation? Looks like 1 hour according to Google Maps, but it's been wrong before. Would traffic be better to go up Connecticut to I-495W or River to I-495N?

                                          Anything to do to kill time in Fredrick if we get there early?

                                          1. re: Ponder99

                                            I'd leave in the early afternoon. Downtown Frederick is lovely- very pedestrian friendly, lots of shops, and cheap parking.

                                2. 1.5 to 2.0 hours depending on traffic and road conditions. would take 395 south to GW Parkway west to I-495 north to I 270 north to mainstreet frederick

                                  1. Please write a review of your dining experience. Is this your first time at Volt?

                                    1. New question... My reservation is coming up next week and snow is in forecast. Is there going to be an issue driving from DC to Frederick if it's actively snowing? Is ice going to be an issue? I don't want to sound naive, but I'm coming from So Cal and have no experience driving in snow . I don't want to cancel our reservation, but at the same time it won't be worth it if we get stuck on the side of the freeway somewhere.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Ponder99

                                        No, the weather is only calling for the possibility of flurries or light snow, and it's been warm enough that little to no accumulation on roadways will occur. You will be fine.