What's a girl to do after a long day of shopping in Friendship Heights? Dinner at Cheesecake Factory or P.F. Chang's? Maybe a trip to Chadwick's? There are just no exciting options after working up a sweat at Bloomingdales and Neiman Marcus. Thankfully, Chef Bryan Voltaggio, also known for his other concepts Volt, Lunchbox, and Family Meal has opened the beautiful Range in Chevy Chase Pavillion which is sure to revolutionize the entire building. It's a brand new concept that spans almost an entire floor with glass walls and an open kitchen. My friends and I went at 5PM on the dot on a Sunday evening in the first week or two that it was open. When we arrived, the restaurant was just opening so it was completely empty. By the time ten minutes went by, the entire bar was filled and multiple tables were filtering in. It is apparent that Bryan Voltaggio will not have trouble filling up the beautiful space at Range.
We parked ourselves at the bar (after a bit of a kerfuffle with the host, but I'm going to chalk it up to being restaurant opening confusion). Once we made friends with the bartender and started with some fun cocktails and wine, we were excited to dive into the massive menu. The menu is separated into multiple sections including raw bar, cold kitchen, pasta, wood grill, roasted, side dishes, and more. All of the dishes are meant to be small plates that are able to be shared. Because we are all ravenous foodies, we ordered a slew of dishes to get started. Everything sounded delicious, and we didn't want to miss out on anything special that Range had to offer. The food came out as it was ready, and we were incredibly pleased with the flavors and preparations. A few key highlights included:
- Skillet cornbread with bacon marmalade: The cornbread came out in a hot cast iron pan and was sweet and moist. It was absolutely delicious... but the bacon marmalade stole the show! I guarded the small dish closely, and continued to spread it on just about everything we had throughout the meal. Voltaggio should sell it by the jar.
- Pumpernickel cassarecci with lambs tongue and Gruyère: This pasta dish was innovative and unlike anything else I have ever tasted (except a Reuben which apparently was the inspiration for the dish.) The pumpernickel noodles paired with diced meat in a light sauce with a touch of cheese was really different, and something we could not get enough of.
- Beef marrow bones with garlic and golden raisins: This dish was divine. We scooped out the marrow and paired it with the sweet raisin jam left in the pan and spread it atop lightly toasted bread. It was decadent and lovely.
- Roasted chicken with lemon, garlic, and rosemary: A well cooked simple roast chicken can be the most satisfying dish. This chicken was juicy, moist, and infused with lemon flavors. Two enthusiastic thumbs up.
- Everything mashed potatoes: With inspiration taken from an everything bagel, these potatoes are whipped up with lots of butter, poppy seeds, garlic, onion, and more. They were rich and the perfect side with chicken and meats. Additionally, I kept stirring in some bacon marmalade from the cornbread. It was a delicious combination.
The dinner really hit a lot of high marks for us, and we were satisfied and impressed with the "range" that Voltaggio is able to show in this restaurant given the breadth of items that are offered. When it's time for the dessert course at Range there are many options for diners to indulge. First, Range has created a beautiful candy counter towards the back of the restaurant which you can peruse. The displays are intricate and it is evident that much care went into the creation of these delicious treats. Additionally, the restaurant offers a rolling concept where someone will bring a cart to your table displaying all of the individual sweets for you to choose from. You can select just one piece of peppermint bark for example, and they also will put any combination of items into a takeaway container for you to bring home. Finally, there is a full dessert menu which includes a chocolate ganache tart and warm apple crisp, as well as ice creams and sorbets. We took a sampling of small chocolates and truffles from the cart, and also ordered the rice pudding, cheesecake, and warm apple crisp to split among the four of us. All were very tasty, but the winner was the cheesecake. It was the perfect consistency and had a touch of citrus.
Range is not only an impressive space (albeit there are no windows), but the food was also very impressive even with just a week into service. Bryan Voltaggio is definitely trying to do a lot of things at Range, but I must say that it appeared things were firing on all cylinders. I look forward to going back and tasting entirely different sections of the menu that I was not able to get to on my first visit. And next time I plan to stock up on some candies and treats to-go so I have leftovers to enjoy the day after.