Tuesday, March 25, 2014

it's not totally home on the RANGE in Chevy Chase, but it is a respectable restaurant (3-23-14)

Bryan Voltaggio opened Range (www.voltrange.com) some time ago and it took us a while to get there. Located on the second floor at Chevy Chase Pavillion, I have to admit the mall setting to be
a bit odd. One has to pass The Cheesecake Factory and maybe even Maggiano's amongst others like Starbuck's, but the setting atop the atrium is quite nice. While dining you can sit at the what seems to be forever counter facing the kitchen or watch a mesmerizing video of what seems to be the interior of a fish tank occupying the whole opposite wall on the escalator bank!
It's large, but cozy, and last night we welcomed those hot kitchen fires opposite us as it was indeed very cold again here in DC. I ordered up a LOT LIZARD made from tequila, Campari, lime and a light pineapple syrup. It was bitter like Campari and not sweet, so I liked it. My only issue with this $13 cocktail is the amount of ice in the short glass. My hand was frozen, so our sweet server Matt brought me a huge teacup of hot water to warm my hand; now that's service. Will had a taller drink with his URBAN CONFORMIST made from Vodka, Earl Gray Tea, lemon and yes, oak(?). Samuel said his Mango Soda (also housemade) was watery.
I do like the fact that they don't charge for housemade filtered water, and we liked the sparkling a lot as it was very mild.
I started with the HAMACHI CRUDO which comes with candied Hazelnuts, Beets and sits on a slice of Blood Orange. There is balsamic and green peppercorn oil which all add to a wonderful burst of flavor. A glass of WILD SOUTH 2013 New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc works well here or with any of the raw bar options due to its intense citrus flavor matching the blood orange. Will had the Deviled Mortadella & EGGS with Hen Egg Mousse & Cured Fish Roe which was another wonderful burst of flavor, but quite pricey for the 4 egg halves. He had a glass of Vocoret CHABLIS 2011.
Samuel was getting hungry and did not seem to care for any of the starters, so we gave in and ordered the BREAD BASKET (they do not offer bread complimentary) which included Sourdough, Ciabatta, Raisin Oatmeal, CornBread& Cheddar Biscuits to name a few. There were many choices of spreads on the side and they were all yummy, especially the Jalapeno Jelly and the Olive Tapenade. What was called bacon Marmalade was really just bacon bits and the Maple Butter was also nice, but not a big hit. Least exciting was the too sweet Smoked Cream Cheese with Grape Jam.
We all split one of the best salads around in the KALE CAESAR made with lacinato kale, Romaine hearts and parmesan. The kick from anchovy was evident and the entire dish was a hit with all of us.
We ordered a bottle of superb 2006 Domaine Albert Boillot VOLNAY "Letits Poisots" which was silky and strong with earthy hints. I joked the sommelier staff about not knowing what "poisots" was as we could determine the meaning with our translator apps. One of the guys actually went and found out that it was a family name, hence no translation! Good work!
Main courses were all hits from Samuel's 16 ounce Ribeye with Shallot & Herb Pesto (he ate 80% of it) to Will's Halibut & Pork Belly where the fish was tasty and crispy and so was the belly. It came with Cheddar Buckwheat polenta, glazed turnips and carrots. My LAMB Tasting was three types of lamb:tender soft breast, stuffed shoulder that was also divine and leg sliced, but two of the four slices were tougher than the others? On the side were Smoked Carrots, Harrisa and Cucumber Coconut Yogurt sauces for the meats. The two biggest hits of the main course were the side dishes. Samuel begged for CHICKPEA Fries which in the end he did not like, but we devoured promptly with their Harissa & Garlic Aioli Sauces. Will & I could not praise enough the Fried Brussels Sprouts with Fish Sauce & Lime.
Dessert was out of the question for us, but Samuel saw they had a chocolate list. It seems there is a take away kitchen next to the restaurant so he went down to investigate. He decided the truffles were to frilly and ended up with two CHOCOLATE FUDGE CRINKLES which were chewy divine cookies that we all loved. Matt brought a couple of the truffles over and while they were good, at $3.00 a pop, we were glad we did not indulge!
So in a nutshell, the prices are high, but some of the dishes are very worthy and don't skip the sides here! The wine list is huge, varied and has everything from $18 to practically $18,000.00!! We loved our Volnay for seventy-something!