Cuisine, raised to the level of art…

Bravo TV’s “Top Chef” nailed it when it named the Voltaggio brothers, Michael and Bryan, as the winner and runner-up, respectively, in Season Six.  While Michael has focused his efforts on the West coast dining scene, Bryan has stayed east and his Volt, located in Frederick, MD, has continued to win accolades.  His Range, which opened two years ago on Wisconsin Avenue in the District, is further proof that Bryan’s talents are nothing short of extraordinary.  I met friends there brunch and my first impression of the restaurant was “wow.”  The entrance and interior is sleek and exquisitely designed; the lighting, subdued and warm.

© David-Kevin Bryant
© David-Kevin Bryant

My friends and I, as typically is our practice, decided to order a few appetizers to share before we tackled the brunch menu.  The restaurant’s cornbread, along with the crispy brussels sprouts–yes, brussels sprouts–had already earned a reputation in the Washington area as must haves :

― charcuterie board
― crispy brussels sprouts
― iron skilled cornbread, bacon marmalade

What struck us first was the beautiful presentation of the appetizers.  The cheeses, for example, were perfectly spaced apart on the board and looked as much like art as it did delicious food.  The waiter explained their origins and taste, which ranged from soft and mild to sharp bleu cheese.  I expected the cornbread to be a worthy choice as we had already heard rave reviews, but I was unprepared for just how fantastic it was.  The shocker, however, were the brussels sprouts.  Range’s were served hot in a small skillet with crispy onions and they were excellent.  It’s also important to note that a fourth person could have easily joined us for the meal.  The amount of appetizers was bountiful without being obscene.  We also ordered the following, although I challenged the waiter to bring me what he would order if were dining there.  The French toast was his choice :

― bacon, egg and cheese, served with croissant, goats cheese and nueske’s bacon
― crispy French toast, with wild berries, smoked cream cheese, maple syrup
― lamb neck hash, with fingerling potatoes, jack cheese, sunny side hen egg

The croissant was buttery, flaky and warm, so much so I immediately thought of my favorite patisserie in Montreal and concluded the owners would be quite impressed with Range’s version.  The French toast was probably the best I have eaten.  The smoked cream cheese and wild berries were sweet enough to render syrup almost completely unnecessary.  And the lamb hash, which I sampled for more than just one bite, was delicious.

The corridor to the restrooms is lined with the restaurant’s wine selections. © David-Kevin Bryant

Hands down, this was one of the best meals I have eaten in the U.S.  In addition, the service was impeccable.  The manager was courteous and stopped by frequently to check on us.  Our waiter was friendly and knowledgeable.  No detail in Range has gone unnoticed and its apparent that a great deal of thought and artistry went into the menu, its preparation and the environs in which the food is skillfully prepared and proudly served.

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