Tuesday, October 19, 2010


I was blessed this last weekend to be gifted with another visit to Volt. Apparently my excellent boyfriend had to make reservations for this outing a month in advance which is a pretty big deal for a place out in the middle of Frederick Maryland (the suburbs of the suburbs).

The decor was very modern, very plain. They had changed the cool pictures of ships since the last time I went there to some boring dull ones.

For lunch you can either order from the 3 course prix fixe menu or the 5 course one. Being a grad student I went with the 3 course-as did my 3 dining companions.

They do offer you anise flavored bread sticks. Not a fan. The awesome chive biscuits and rosemary rolls with salted butter were good (I love creative breads) and for brunch they offer even more bread choices.

I HAD to get the goat cheese ravioli as an appetizer-it was a must. If I were to chose one of my favorite dishes ever this would have to be one of them. The goat cheese was so creamy and light yet flavorful and was pillowed inside this fresh delicate pasta. The ravioli rested on top of this wonderful butternut squash smear and topped with these amazingly flavorful chanterrelle mushrooms and a foam. My only complaint was that I wanted MORE. All I got were 4 pieces and man I could eat that stuff all day.

Justin got this veloute which was essentially a mushroom soup which was just overly mushroomy and had no other flavors or textures to balance it out.

Katie got the beet salad which seemed quite nice with the variety of beets, the beet meringues were a pretty touch but the goat cheese was just air and not at all strong like goat cheese should be. A good appetizer but nothing compared to the ravioli.

The main dishes were quite the conundrum. I really thought someone who was one of the top contenders for Iron Chef would be able to produce better entrees. I got the pork tenderloin which was bland and pretty much tasteless. It came with this awful purple cabbage sauce (more like an apple sauce consistency) which was bitter and unpleasant. I at least enjoyed the bacony brussel sprouts but the mustard greens that were put on my plate were pathetic. All they tastes of was butter. Pure butter. Blech.

The chicken with sausage was similarly humdrum with the sausage being soft and under cooked (or just boiled? you should ALWAYS caramelize your sausage to bring out the flavor-what were you thinking Brian when you presented us with this sad spongy dish) and the chicken dull.

I had the fish on my previous visit and it was too fishy for my tastes, I kept on looking longingly at everyone elses plates (speaking of my previous visit VOLT does a much better brunch than a lunch-his eggs are the best eggs I have had in my life and Justin's grandmother inhaled her pancakes).

The only winner was the steak which was twelve extra dollars. The steak was marinated to perfection, tasting of teriyaki and honey and wasn't too tough at all (I am picky about my steak tenderness).

As for the desserts I don't think that Brian can do anything well except for his chocolate textures dessert. I tried the pear dish (boring and alcoholic-how can you serve such a hard piece of pear), the dissatisfying apple dessert (also boring-none of his flavored ice creams are ever good), and the peach dessert (had last time, I could make it in my sleep). None of them were as remotely impressive as the chocolate textures dessert but I honestly could STILL go for something even more exciting than that.

They always seem to send you home with a nicely wrapped up muffin. I love muffins myself and was really excited to eat them. You can't imagine how disappointed I was with the first muffin (blackberry) which was awful tasting and dry and the 2nd muffin (lemon poppy seed) which was somehow dry, dense and oily and grainy all the same time.

To sum it up: Go for brunch. Enjoy the bread. Be sure to get the ravioli, eggs/steak and the chocolate textures. Be prepared for a long meal as the time between courses is quite long.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

BBQ Showdown

Yes! Maryland BBQ showdown on my taste buds. It doesn't get more hardcore than that. Justin and I love finding privately owned BBQ shacks on the side of the road, something that seems to be sadly difficult now a days in the North (if you want to reeeallly call MD North, I would call it in the MIDDLE but I don't think there is a real word for that Sorth???)

Anyways about a month ago I came across a BBQ place right down the street from our apartment-Urban BBQ. I was starving for lunch and ready for anything and to my surprise there it was, this awesome place on New Hampshire avenue, conveniently located right by the White Oak exit on 495. Today we saw a BBQ place on our way to bike riding at the Patuxent Wildlife Refuge in Laurel called B & B Southern BBQ so we stopped by after our ride. Lets see how they stand against each other:

BBQ Beef Brisket: In this category both restaurants receive a big fat FAIL. Both had thin dry slices of brisket. The Laurel location had a pit beef sandwich whose only reedeming quality was the fact that it was served with coleslaw on top and was drowned in BBQ sauce (mmmmm BBQ sauce). The beef at Urban was lean dry and tasteless. I KNOW good BBQ beef brisket people (I have been to Wileys in Savannah Georgia-trust me) and this was not it.

Side dishes: Urban BBQ flat on its face in this category. Not only did they give me collard greens instead of the sweet potato casserole the first time I went there (gross) but they also gave me something called ranch style baked beans. I am an avid baked bean fan and these were NOT baked beans they were really chili in disguise. If you like chili go for it but if you want real baked beans than hold on to your money. The mac and cheese was pathetic and was more buttered noodles than cheesy. I also have never encountered a more boring sweet potato casserole. It was not sweet,no topping/crunchies abd had practically no cinnamon/spice and was just plain blah. My advice-don't go for these pricey products. On the other hand, the Laurel BBQ place rocked the sides department. They had the perfect mac n cheese and the perfect baked beans. My goodness that mac n cheese was chhheeessyyy and those baked beans were sweet, syrupy with a little bite of vinegar. These are just two of the many sides offered there and they come with your main dish (for free-woot woot).

Ribs and Sauce: The ribs at B & B were def cooked for a long time, coming out tender and sweet. The only downside was that the one I got was kind of fatty but hey the flavor was THERE. Along with the ribs came an amazing bbq sauce and tasting it absolutely enlightened me as to why they sell the sauce and don't just give it away. Damn its good. The Urban BBQ ribs were similarly tender and were the highlight of my meal. What I liked best about the ribs was their smokey flavor and how meaty they were (very little gross fat). The sauces at Urban were nothing to brag about but were sufficiently barbecuey.

Dessert: Well dessert at Urban BBQ has yet to be determined but lets hope they don't follow in the path of their side dishes.However, I decided to go all out at B and B Southern BBQ and OMG they have the BEST sweet potato pie ever. The crust is like a cross between a graham cracker crust and a traditional apple pie crust. The filling is perfectly spiced and the thing was just downright tasty. Man, for only 3.50 this little pie gave me four perfectly good slices and I am so going back for more.

Now who won this BBQ battle?! Since there are no office Top chef/Iron chef judges to call the shots I guess I'm just gonna have to leave this one up to you (I just can't pick-so don't make me!). In the meantime I will continue my quest to find the best BBQ in the DC metro area. ITS ON!

The Blue Duck Tavern

So some of my drafts weren't saved so I am just going to give you a brief over view of some places I have been lately:

The Blue Duck Tavern: I went here for my birthday with Justin. The appetizer was this salad with peaches and some kind of terrine. The peaches were the only part that I really liked. As for the main dishes-we got duck and a braised beef dish. The duck-supposedly their signature dish-was dry and not at all flavorful. I have had some good duck in my time and the Blue Duck Taverns duck was not even comparable.

The beef, however, was quite tender and came with a nice sauce. The two main dished were pathetically small and expensive which is amazing considering our two side dishes were a fraction of the price and were so large we had to bring home leftovers.

I looovveed the lasagna side dish we got. It was unique in that it was WRAPPED in phyllo dough (I have never seen this before with lasagna) and contained delectable chanterrelle mushrooms with a to die for pink sauce.

Then there were the french fries. I think I dream about these french fries sometimes. They were these thick hand cut slices of potato that were still sizzling with the duck fat they had been fried in when they arrived at our table. Justin adored the flavored mayo dipping sauce they came with (a very European touch) but they tasted good by themselves and I enjoyed biting into their crispy skins.

We both looked over the dessert menu surprisingly there wasn't anything I HAD to have. I had heard about their homemade ice cream of course but it was ridiculously priced and I would have liked it better if there had been some kind of note saying you could add the ice-cream a la mode to one of the other desserts for a cheaper price so I didn't JUST have to have ice cream. It was my bday though and I was going to get a dessert no matter what so I ordered a fruit sounding dish. Oh man, good decision. There was this delectable coconut cream yogurt topped with huge slices of gods most perfect and fresh pineapple, complemented nicely by beautifully caramelized banana slices and a heavenly cashew crumble topping off the whole confection. Soooooo good.

So yes, I would go back to the blue duck tavern. I am just wondering if I can skip the appetizer and main dishes and just go directly for the sides and desserts. Yum.