Bryan Voltaggio regularly cooks for an audience of diners at Table 21, the chef’s table at his Frederick restaurant Volt. But he says the first time he ever experienced an open kitchen was inside a small diner in Jefferson, Maryland, when he was a kid. “You always saw what was going on,” he remembers, gesturing to the staffers hard at work in the open kitchen at his own diner, the about-to-open Family Meal, housed in a former car dealership just blocks away from both Volt and his casual sandwich shop, Lunchbox.
The new restaurant is replete with winking references to classic diners: hourglass-shaped mugs, all-day breakfast, and milkshakes and coffee cake on the menu. Of course, the coffee that goes into the mugs is the smooth Counter Culture, and the all-day breakfast includes a poutine with duck leg confit, cheese curds, potato hash, and a 63-degree hen’s egg. Milkshakes are made with homemade ice cream and seasonal berries and will include alcoholic versions (think Coca-Cola ice cream with Fernet Branca and lime). Bay leaf ice cream accompanies the fresh-cinnamon-laced coffee cake—the same that’s offered as a parting gift to Volt guests.
Voltaggio also mentions creations from Southern-born chef de cuisine Adam Howard including a side of chard—“the best braised greens I’ve ever tasted”—with pork trimmings, golden raisins, and pine nuts; pimiento cheese; and crispy fried chicken. More Voltaggio-esque is the rye cavatelli with broccoli rabe, pecorino cheese, herbs, and flowers. Voltaggio is a fast talker to begin with, but his speech reaches an excited gallop when he talks about desserts like the layered Smith Island cake (the state dessert of Maryland) accompanied by his take on Heath Bar crunch; and a banana split with chocolate, cherry, and bourbon ice creams, served in an old-fashioned sundae glass. Check out the slideshow to learn more about what you’ll be eating and drinking at Family Meal.
Family Meal opens officially tomorrow night for dinner only. Beginning July 7, the restaurant will start serving breakfast daily at 7 AM, remaining open through lunch and dinner. 880 N. East St., Frederick.