Squeeee Top Chef restaurant trip!!!!  One of us had a plan to go to our favorite cheftestant's restaurant earlier this winter, but it was foiled.  Bryan Voltaggio was a close second, and his restaurant is a heck of a lot closer.  So off we went to Frederick with a pair of our most adventurous friends

I made the reservation over the phone--although OpenTable says that you can only book 30 days in advance, click at midnight of what would be the 30th day, and alas, it is booked.  You have to call (at least for now).

There are three (or really FOUR including the bar) areas in which you may dine:  a main dining room where you may order a la carte; the chef's dining room, where you are offered a 6 course tasting menu; and Table 21, where service includes--you guessed it--21 courses.  I know you're rushing to pick up the phone, but when I called T21 was booked through 2011.  Don't sigh with sadness just yet. Follow the chef on Twitter; he sometimes shouts out about last minute T21 cancellations, and a spot for 2 or 4 might just open up for you!  Just beware of weekday evening traffic up 270.

I'll run through what we had and then sum it up tastefully at the end.

The amuse--ahem, I mean chef's canapes--was a trio; a light crunchy poof of celeriac, a sunchoke soup (a fancier word for soup, but bear with me, it was liquid), and tuna confit on the right.  All different, all delicious.  This place is texture-tastic, as you'll continue to see.


Next, shiitake veloute with chili oil, basil, and pine nut sabayon.  Smooth.   Rich and delicate, at the same time.  We wanted to buy some jars of it before we left, but there were none available.  : (


Next course was a choice between a snake-shaped foie course that actually tasted like chocolate (I'm not kidding at all) and the goat cheese ravioli, which is what you see below.  The ravioli had some serious savory but sweet going on, with butternut squash and sage brown butter complimenting the still-firm pasta.  More!

Ever had fish that tastes like meat?  This shad (sitting on farro) has a dusting of dehydrated bacon, and the dish just doesn't taste like fish!  It's meaty and well-seasoned, and if you got a larger serving of this alone, you'd leave satisfied and convinced (aka, you'd "drink the Volt Kool-Aid").  The orange you see is carrot, and please, feel free to drag your fork of food along the various bright-colored purees that adorn these stunning dishes--it will never lead you astray.

NEXT:  I know, you're feeling full already.  BBQ pork shoulder with cannellini beans, glazed turnip, and pickled mustard.  If you like tender meat that falls apart at the fork's touch with flavor that makes your tongue write you a thank you note at the end of the night, then you like this dish. 

When J saw the bright colored fillings on these mashed potatoes, his first thought was HAMANTASCHEN.  After all, it was Purim.  But no, those were mashed potatoes, and although the one with the golden raisin filling was my favorite, they were not the star of this plate.  That would be the beef strip loin.  You know I'm not a big red meat person, and not really a big steak person--I'm the one who orders blackened salmon at Ray's the Steaks!  It's a texture thing, and it's part of the aftershocks of my former vegetarianism.  NO LONGER!  This piece was delicious, and I'd gladly eat it again.  On a daily basis.

White chocolate ganache, shaped into S-curves and chocolate ice cream, yummmm. 


We thought our meal was over, but these itty bitty ice cream sandwiches came out--dark chocolate, oatmeal raisin, chocolate chip---yum!

Swiped credit cards returned, we had one last gift--wrapped up lemon poppy muffins.  J generally isn't a huge fan of lemon (or poppy, for that matter) and he enjoyed his muffin.  ME TOO!!!


The waiters wear suits and Chucks (are you listening, fashion police?).  The wine (we did the pairing) was spot on and delicious, the sommelier quite cheerful. The place is modern and sleek without being sterile; it's comfortable, it's fun, and best of all it's unpretentious.  The bar has awesome lights, comfy and funky couches, and a TV that went from playing the Olympics to showing a view of the kitchen.  On this particular evening Chef Voltaggio was in the house, and in the Chef's Dining Room you can watch him (and everyone else) work--I was a little starstruck, but I held it together.

This is one of the best meals I've ever had.  I liked everything, and I'd have each and every dish again--you wouldn't even have to twist my arm.  Now my "Before We Move Away" list includes Minibar, The Inn, and Table 21.  Not so good for the wallet.

Have you been to Table 21, Minibar, and/or The Inn?  What reigns supreme in this town (and its nearby surroundings, of course)?  Any of these, Komi, Citronelle?  CityZen?

I leave you with the view from our table.

228 N. Market St
Frederick, MD
Metro:  Take the closest line to your house to your friend's house who has a car.  Ta-da!

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  1. There is serious drool forming in my mouth right now! It looks delicious, and it seems like you had a great time! XOXOXO

  2. Bloody hell...it looks like I'm just going to have to bite the bullet and make a T21 reservation for 2011. Thanks for the information - I was just asking about said sketchy open table system in a recent post.