Cuisine: It didn’t take long for this Frederick hot spot to emerge as arguably Maryland’s best restaurant. Chef/partner Bryan Voltaggio, 33, a runner-up on the most recent Top Chef, cannily channels the best of Restaurant Eve, from the cool sophistication to the burning ambition. In dishes that draw inspiration from places as diverse as Morocco, Thailand, and his native Frederick, Voltaggio seamlessly fuses rustic, seasonal cooking with hyper-modern techniques without overworking either.
Mood: A historic brick-mansion exterior gives way to a hushed gallery-like space on the inside. Clean white walls adorned with abstract art make you focus on the food. It’s not all serious: Servers finish off their suited uniforms with Converse sneakers.
Best for: A celebratory splurge; a romantic anniversary dinner; foodies who like the idea of local and the use of foams and powders but are tired of restaurants that overkill both.
Best dishes: A tasting of beets with an impossibly light goat-cheese mousse and dehydrated beet cylinders; a house-made charcuterie plate, which includes the smoothest fennel sausage and well-thought-out condiments such as an orange-peel chutney; artisanal-goat-cheese ravioli with an earthy mix of chanterelles and corn; lamb two ways with North African flavors (eggplant, ras el hanout, and lentils); butter-poached lobster with an essence of coconut; an unlikely chocolate/peanut-butter mousse with cilantro pudding.
Insider tips: For a grandly indulgent meal, try Table 21, where dinner is served in the kitchen (parties of four or fewer only). Keep Volt in mind for brunch; it’s just as good as—if not better than—dinner.
Open Wednesday through Saturday for lunch and dinner, Sunday for brunch and dinner. Table 21 open Wednesday through Sunday for dinner. Expensive to very expensive.