Restaurant Review: Jose Garces’ Volver is just right for your show-going night
When looking for a bite to eat before a show, look no further than Volvér.
My husband surprised me with tickets to see The Brian Setzer Orchestra’s Christmas Extravaganza! at the Academy of Music (a must-see if you ever get the opportunity). One of the offers when buying the tickets was a $35 pre-theater menu at Volvér (http://philadelphia.volverrestaurant.com/), the Jose Garces restaurant conveniently located inside The Kimmel Center. He explained to me, it was a no-brainer to take advantage of the deal.
We entered the restaurant and were immediately greeted by the friendly hostesses. We were seated by the window that was right next to the busy sidewalk. At first, we thought the glass was tinted, but after making eye contact with some of the pedestrians, my husband dispelled that notion. The décor is modern and the lighting a little dim, but the ceilings are high so it has a very warm and open ambiance. Since we had the “pre-theater” reservation, the drink and pre-fixe menus were already on the table. Our server and other staff members we saw interacting with patrons, many of whom were probably also theater-goers, were very professional and friendly. They obviously understand when there is a schedule keep, every minute counts, but they never made us feel rushed.
The first course offered three appetizer options. There was Fall Lettuces, which by its description, appears to be more of a cheese plate than the salad that its name would imply. Another option was Vegetable Tartine, which is a chef’s seasonal choice. Both sounded good, but my curiosity was piqued when I read the name Milk & Cereal. My first thought that it was going to be a crazy take on a savory cereal. I love bacon and asparagus, so I had to try it. When the waiter brought out our servings, the presentation blew me away. The “cereal” was in the bowl and the waiter poured hot asparagus milk over top of it. The result was like a decomposed soup. The more you ate the more you wanted.
For our main course, my husband ordered the Market Fish dish and I ordered the Wagyu Sirloin. From my obligatorily shared taste of fish (it was in the marriage vows), I found that the different textures of the perfectly-cooked fish, mushroom, and watercress mingled with the delicate flavors from the truffle jus and celeriac emulsion which combined into a well-balanced delight for the palate. Often, adding truffles to the mix can overpower the dish, but the fish held its own and it was delicious.
My steak, also cooked to perfection, was ALMOST out-shined by the tasty bites that were beautifully presented alongside it. I say almost, because it was so good that it overcame the absolute delectable tastes of cheese fondue, salsa, and beet puree. They were just the right amount of varying sauces to give you an idea of how different textures and flavors can add to an exceptional piece of meat. The surprise for me was the beet puree. I am not a beet fan, but somehow this puree had me swiping the steak into it bite after bite to get another taste. I haven’t mentioned the potatoes yet because they deserve their own separate mention. These potatoes were out of this world. Somehow the chef created roasted potatoes on the bottom with a crispy, chip-like fan on the top. It was so pretty and so delicious, that I want to try it at home but am afraid the magic will be lost in the culinary catastrophe that will undoubtedly arise if I did.
Finally, it was time for the dessert. The waiter explained that it was a Cocoa Shoe. He mentioned “cocoa” so many times, I almost interrupted him to tell him to “Run, don’t walk, and bring it to me.” He proceeded to bring out what my husband described as a chocolate lava cake for adults. Beside the dark chocolate shaving on top. the outside had a slight shell, almost as if there was the thinnest, almost undetectable layer of sugar to give it a crisp texture when you dug into it. The cake and inner pocket of cream were decadent but not overly rich or cloyingly sweet. In fact, the best part was how not sweet it was. It was how a chocolate dessert should taste. We may have made a racket with our spoons trying to get EVERY LAST BIT out.
The pre-theater menu at Volvér was exactly the right choice to start off a night where one will be enjoying a show. The amount of food was on point because while we were satisfied, we were not stuffed. They have the timing down to a science so there is plenty of time to relax after the meal and still get to the show with time to spare. The food was delicious and the atmosphere enjoyable. If you are buying tickets to a show and this option comes up, take it. You will not regret it.
Mom, wife, daughter, sister, aunt, friend, and Philly suburb native.