Discover: Frederick, Maryland
A city with traditional, colonial charm meets a growing cosmopolitan food and beverage scene.
Drive about an hour northwest of Washington, D.C. and you will come upon Frederick, Maryland. I have always had an affinity for this quaint city, as I attended the venerable Hood College not that many moons ago (or so I’d like to think). Perhaps most impressive about Frederick is that while retaining its historic, small-town-esque charm, in recent years it has progressed into a location with a cosmopolitan atmosphere, attracting visitors from near and far. This is in large part due to the strength of its up and coming culinary, artisanal and craft brewing offerings, among its many other facets.
Frederick is Maryland’s second largest city behind Baltimore, and it played a prominent role in Civil War History. My recent visit found me walking down North Market Street, a main thoroughfare, and its many side streets, marveling at how the downtown has expanded since my college years while still exuding Colonial-era allure with its row house style, brick architecture. In a city teeming with historical reminders, I was struck by the number of establishments which have quickly emerged to please the palate and satisfy beer and spirits aficionados.
Noted Chef Bryan Voltaggio, along with business partner Hilda Staples is the owner and Executive Chef behind Frederick restaurants VOLT and Family Meal. Voltaggio, a Frederick native, also owns several other restaurants in the D.C. metro area and was a finalist on shows Top Chef and Top Chef Masters. VOLT and Family Meal distinctly cater to a specific clientele. Opened in 2008 housed in a 19th century brownstone, VOLT offers an upscale menu. Family Meal opened in 2012 and, with its other locations throughout the D.C. metro area is geared to a more casual dining experience, with dishes that the whole family can enjoy yet with a unique twist.
Each restaurant is all about servingfood with locally sourced ingredients. “We believe in working within our vast region of the Mid-Atlantic for ingredients for our menus,” said Voltaggio. “Regardless if the dish is a simple rendition of an American classic, as you will find on the menu at Family Meal, or a more complex presentation using the same seasonal ingredients at VOLT, both are supported by a great appreciation for fundamental cooking. We can provide both a relaxed, approachable, everyday dining experience at Family Meal and a more celebratory and refined experience at VOLT.”
The chef is one to sing Frederick’s praises. “We have a lot to offer here,” he said. “There’s a great community of restaurants and shops downtown,” he said. “I am excited to be part of the growth in my hometown and I look forward to seeing more great small businesses in our city.”
Brewer’s Alley restaurant is housed in a building erected in 1765, rebuilt in 1872 with the original foundation still intact. Previous incarnations included stints as a town hall, a theater, and an opera house. Owner Phil Bowers – coincidentally, a fellow Hood alum – has roots in Frederick that go back many generations. The eatery serves American regional cuisine and wood-fired pizza. “We also have six year-round beers and a rotation of beers as well,” he said. The restaurant recently underwent a remodeling and restoration, and is slated to unveil its new look this month. “We are bringing back a small-batch brewing system for our beers, and the kitchen and dining area are new, along with a rooftop terrace that holds 80 to 100 people.” said Bowers.