21 Rounds with VOLT: Part 1
Back in early February, we discovered that the next DC Restaurant Week began Feb 16th. This was surprising, as lots of places had put on specials during the week of Obama's Inauguration, and we did not expect to see more cheap deals out so soon. No complainers we, Saunter and I set about vetting possible destinations for gluttonous adventures.
Paging through the listings, Saunter asked me if I had ever heard of VOLT. I thought they were maybe a prog-rock band from the UK who were big in the early 80's, which did not go over well. Ignoring my inane musings, Saunter mentioned that it was a restaurant out in Frederick, Maryland (about 50 miles from DC) that had been getting rave reviews. Intrigued, I went and looked up its web page, and directed Saunter's attention to the page describing its dinner menu.
"They have a 21 course tasting menu, with seating in the kitchen."
Which is how we ended up in Frederick, Maryland, in late March, staying at a B&B within walking distance of the restaurant. We arrived in the early afternoon, heading out from DC after I had finished Aussie Rules footy training. This gave us ample time to get acquainted with the B&B and then pass out for a timely nap (something of a post-footy tradition with me), before spending some time wandering out Frederick before dinner.
Frederick itself was an interesting town - quite pretty in parts (particularly the area around Carroll Creek), but with a fair number of empty or boarded up storefronts. A pile of arts and crafts stores lined the main street, and at the far end of the city centre there was a pawn shop (the $$$ kind), a porn shop (the XXX kind) and three separate tattoo parlours. We killed the remaining time before dinner poking about in the different shops, more than one of which I could not imagine turning a profit... but then again, what do I know.
The Table 21 (the name given to the "in the kitchen" 21-course affair) seating was for 8:30pm, so we decided to slide into the venue at 8pm in order to relax and enjoy a cocktail or two before din-dins. VOLT itself is situated in an old brownstone mansion, so the inner configuration was a little quirky, somewhat dictated to by the original layout.
We perched ourselves on a couch in the lounge, inbetween a couple of small groups of folks, allowing me to steal the odd glance at the TV behind the bar - so I could keep mysely appraised of the March Madness basketball. Saunter ordered a "Norwood", which contained Southern Comfort, Apple Cider, Rum, Maple Syrup and a splash of lemon. I was tempted to order a Manhattan, but instead plumped for the tastefully named "Flying Dog Tire Bite Golden Ale". Yes, such a thing exists.
We timed it well, finishing our drinks right as our seating time arrived. I spoke to the maitre d', who told me that the other couple had not yet arrived; apparently Table 21 is for up to four people, and given the nature of the meal everyone needs to kick off at the same time - which meant we were waiting on a couple of strangers to show up. Just as I was about to crook my finger at the bar-keep, the other half of our foursome (Molly and Blake) arrived, and we were ushered towards the back of the restaurant. Our culinary adventure was about to begin!