Bryan Voltaggio has done it again. The local [celebrity] chef has once again put his ideas into motion, and from the looks of it [and taste of it] has another runaway hit. Family Meal, Voltaggio’s 3rd restaurant here in Frederick, MD recently opened its doors to a community filled with buzz and high anticipation. If this restauranteur knows how to do one thing, it’s create an under current of excitement. Any move he makes is closely followed [and talked about] by his foodie fans. Me included.
Welcome to Family Meal.
Not only do they serve PBR on the menu [for $2.50], you get it in a custom koozie. Nicely done. Cheap & easy, just how I like it. The koozie isn’t yours to keep [sad face] but you can purchase one, if you so choose. From the moment you walk into this restaurant you feel the retro yet modern vibe. The space has an industrial feel to it but is cozy & comforting at the same time. Servers wear chucks, Anthropologie aprons, skinny jeans, and tee-shirts. Giving off that hipster, “I’m a really cool nerd” vibe. I can dig it. This place feels approachable and tangible to the everyday Joe [whoever that is]. Tangible to the everyday peep isn’t how I’d describe Voltaggio’s first restaurant [Volt] . But that’s ok. Each of his restaurants have found their niche. Brilliant from a restauranteur’s perspective. Mr. Brilliant himself is quite impressive to watch. Mom and I got a front row seat @ the bar. Perfect for watching the man [and the mystery].
Voltaggio is as steady as a steel beam. Cool as a cucumber doesn’t even cut it when describing this guys demeanor. He has a genuine quality that shines through in each step of his ever so meticulous process. Even taking the time to hand deliver a milkshake to a little tike seated on his daddy’s lap. Little gestures like these have & will continue his ever present success.
For our first course, Mom and I shared some deelicious deviled eggs with smoked trout roe, bacon, and chives. Sweet mother of pearl. These were uh-mazing.
For our second round, we shared this equally adorable & scrumptious fried chicken. Adorable? Yes, did you see the fabulous chicken “basket” it arrived in? Point made.
Fried Chicken included two buttermilk biscuits, pickles and hot sauce. Biscuits were fluffy and buttery, pickles always a plus, and the hot sauce is a lovely addition to the perfectly [seriously, perfectly] cooked chicken.
To accompany our Fried Chicken, we go this sweet, tangy, and
creamy [you know how I feel about that word] Goat Cheese Gratin. Which is made up of goat cheese, tubetti pasta, and chive blooms. Deelish!
Last but not least we splurged and got dessert. Had to, right? We opted for the Smith Island Coffee Cake, per the bartenders suggestion. Definitely a yummy treat, but not my favorite part of the meal. The cake was a little dry. However this is coming from a non-cake lover. I’m much more of a salty, crunchy, dark chocolate enthusiast myself.
See the cool-diner bumped up vibe? Love it. Something I didn’t love… the short-backed stools. Mom and I sat right where those arrows are pointing. Although the stools are modern and very attractive, they are not very comfortable. Although being able to watch Voltaggio in action made those stools just a tad easier to manage.
All around, the details from beginning to end were fantastic. Being a hyper-detail-oriented person, this is so noticed and so appreciated. Everything was obviously carefully thought out. From the menu design to the crumb busters, to the family friendly bathrooms. No corner was cut nor T uncrossed.
Service: * * *
All members of the staff come across as friendly, hard-working, and helpful. Many members of the crew are quite young. Being a young server once in my life, I cannot imagine the immense education these servers are getting. It’s always a reassuring feeling to the customer when you feel that the servers are proud, excited, and eager to be there. This being said, my only negative piece about our service experience was that our water glasses were never refilled. Small detail, but something I usually make note of.
As expected, the food is outstanding. The menu is full of the classic diner options you’d expect, with a culinary boost/twist you’d expect from the likes of a former Food Network Top Chef contestant. Breakfast and lunch service are coming soon, and I can’t wait. All the egg options on the menu make me a little giddy inside.
Ambiance: * * * *
The feel of Family Meal is a relaxed and causal-cool. Kind of like Gywneth Paltrow in jeans & a tee-shirt. Effortless and comfortable, yet looks so damn good. There is a fresh-energy in the air that makes you feel like you are apart of something new and exciting. And that always feels good.
With the husband out of town, I decided to try this new restaurant out with my Momma. Pretty sure you could drop us in a cardboard box & we’d manage to have a good time. That being said, we had a fantastic dinner & experience at Family Meal.