Friday, March 15, 2013

Dining in D.C. - Home or Not So at Home at Range

For many months,

years actually,

I'd been meaning to head north on 270

to Frederick, MD

to Bryan Voltaggio's 

much lauded 


I had heard many good things 

about the place & about Bryan,

but as someone whose blood pressure goes up anytime I venture north of Rockville,

I just never made it there. 

 So I was thrilled when I heard that he was 

opening a place in Chevy Chase.

As always, 

I researched the place before my visit,

and was very excited about all their many, many, (did I say many?!) offerings.  

The menu includes:

Shellfish, Crudos & Caviar, Salumi, Salads, Pastas, Wood Oven items, Wood Grill items, 
Roasted items, 
Sides, a plethora of Desserts and Candies,
 and an extensive & reasonably priced wine list manned by not one BUT two sommeliers!

That said...
I could envision many happy meals there. 

With great anticipation,

I visited RANGE 

about a week ago. 

My experience there was mixed. 

RANGE is located in the Chevy Chase Pavillion on its second floor.

The large, semi circular dining room is glassed in and overlooks the 

Pavillion's atrium, H & M ads, and escalator... 

Not a particularly beautiful view. 

The modern & rather minimalist dining area, something I am usually quite fond of, 
was too monochromatic I'm afraid.

And on the late afternoon that I was there, without a flower or color in sight, 

it reminded me of a nuclear winter. 

The Heavy Metal/Punk like music that accompanied our meal 
was anything but conducive to savoring the beauty & subtlety 
of the food we tasted. 

And we tasted some wonderful things. 

The quality of the ingredients 

and the preparation of the food was all excellent. 

To start off we ordered:

 A half dozen Malpeque Oysters on the half shell

Duck Galantine with Poached Quince

Fluke on a bed of Fregola, with Fennel and Beets

Braised Pork Cheeks with Moustarda

Side of Salsify

The service was not great.

The Galantine arrived first, 
followed by 

the side of Salsify that we'd ordered to accompany our entrees, 

and then a dozen oysters.

(We'd ordered 6, they brought us 12, and when I brought this to their attention,
we were only charged for what we'd ordered.)

Our food was not coming out the way we'd ordered it. 

Just perhaps as it was ready?

Everything, from start to finish, was delicious though. 

Briny oysters. Silken Galantine. 

The cheeks were tender and rich. 

The moustarda a perfect contrast.  

My dining companion's fluke was sweet and perfectly cooked.

Then, if you're fond of sweets, you're in luck.

There are many desserts & candies to choose from.

We chose a 

Lemon Custard/Mango Gelato/Coconut dessert with a bit of passion fruit

and I ordered an espresso. 

The dessert was good BUT looked better than it actually was. 

My espresso arrived at the table without any sugar. 

I requested some, and the waiter returned 5 minutes later with a container filled with

NutraSweet & Sweet'N Lo.

By that time my espresso was cool and he still hadn't brought me sugar. 

Eventually he actually returned to the table with real sugar. 

By that time my espresso was a mute point. 

So my overall experience at RANGE was FAIR only.

Not So at Home at RANGE.

My suggestions for Bryan would include:

1. Change the music.

2. Color the room a bit with flowers and/or colorful pillows.

3. I would beg him to use table clothes and to train the servers to buff the table properly.
As it was, the hard top table was left wet and with crumbs. 

4. We ordered a bottle of sparkling mineral water and never saw it. My glass was rarely refilled. And I was thirsty. I can't stand when restaurants don't set the bottle on the table so I can serve myself if necessary. 

5. Other service glitches... the order of the plates ordered, proper coffee service etc... should be refined. 

The food was very, very good.

The menu is varied and extensive. 

Because of this, 

while I'm not dying to return,

there is so much more on the menu to explore that 

I can see myself heading back for another go. 

I just wish that my first experience there had been better.

When you're spending $50 - $100 per person for lunch 
the service and overall experience really should be superb.


  1. I love the phrase you're using « nuclear winter» spite of the quality of the food, i think it's a bit difficult to relax and feel at ease in a dull environment...and i'm not even mentioning the heavy metal music...or may be it suits oysters better :-)

  2. Hello Lala,

    The afternoon I was there it was grey out as well. Perhaps that combined with the fact that it was late afternoon and not all that full made the place seem most colorless. One Lala would've changed all that! When are you coming to D.C.?!!?!?! I'd love to show you around sometime.