I had the absolute pleasure of attending a media tasting at Chef Bryan Voltaggio’s newest restaurant, Family Meal, which is located at the end of Pier 4. Parking is easy in the Pier 5 garage ($7) on Pratt Street.
The space is large and divided into three sections, with warm rustic dark wood accents and an open kitchen, bar in the center. The beverage program is run by Dane Nakamura, who also creates the beverage menus at Chef Voltaggio’s other restaurants. He is a very creative guy and we chatted a bit about different spirits (I’m a huge cocktail fan and have so much to learn…) and I started with the Final Word – rye, green chartreuse, maraschino liqueur and lime. My cohorts ordered the Grey Ghost – Irish whiskey, baked apple syrup, lemon, bitters, pink peppercorns and the Pisco Swizzle – pisco infused with mint and cucumber, ginger, velvet falernum and bitters. Later, I also tried the Clover Club, which is gin, pomegranate syrup, egg white and lemon. I’m a sucker for an egg white…love the texture it adds. I enjoyed both of my cocktails – can’t wait to go back and try more. Very nice job, Dane!
Chef Voltaggio brought out course after course of sharing plates. We enjoyed so many dishes from the extensive, yet really approachable (and easy to navigate) menu. Especially loved the chicken pot pie fritters (5.99), wedge salad – iceberg lettuce, bacon jam, tomato vinaigrette, onion, blue cheese mousse (8.99), fried chicken with buttermilk jalapeno cheddar biscuits, pickles and hot sauce (10.99), chili with the fixins – charred lime crema, scallion, aerated cheese (6.99), lobster roll – split top bun, trinity, fennel, “our bay” (14.99) and banana scotch pudding – butterscotch cream, shortbread, bruleed banana (6.99). And we had even more dishes than that! I honestly could go back and just eat those biscuits. That good.
Chef Voltaggio was there – cooking, expediting, visiting tables – and he was once again warm, engaging and genuine. He is immensely talented – of course – but genuine sticks in my mind first when I think of this guy and to me, that counts a lot. He is real. And he’s happy to be in Charm City.
Read my interview with Bryan Voltaggio in my Chef Series, Chewing the Fat. Turns out, all these years later, his favorite childhood meal is what is now Family Meal!
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