2012 Fall Dining Guide
By Tom Sietsema
Washington Post Magazine
Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012
No matter your appetite, Family Meal in Frederick has something to satisfy it. Eggs and bacon for dinner? Done. A nice piece of fish? Reel in rockfish served with succotash. Comfort food comes by way of fried chicken with buttermilk biscuits and a fat pork chop sweetened with peach relish, while trend monitors can count on duck fat fries and mezcal-spiked cocktails to amuse them. Seemingly the only thing owner Bryan Voltaggio left out of his latest attraction, a window-wrapped diner set in a former Nissan dealership, is a good piece of pie, but the former “Top Chef” contestant promises better desserts are on their way. Noise is a problem. Parking, as you can imagine, is not.
We came for breakfast and ordered the corned beef hash. The flavor was good. Unfortunately the beef was uniformedly chopped into ball bearing size and was just as tough and chewy. The service was not exceptional. No one was at the door to greet us and our waiter forgot to bring the milk we ordered. It was not very busy either. No bread with the meal was also disappointing. $13,00 for one egg and a little terine of CBH was pricey.
While the dinner fried chicken can be mouth-watering, the restaurants’ pedigree does not show at breakfast. I tried it again Sunday, 1/13 at 8:30 and I think that I am now done trying. Only one other party was there. They need to hire a morning-person to seat guests and have coffee brewed and ready to pour. My wife’s order was underdone; eggs over easy with runny whites, undercooked bacon, un-toasted toast. My hash was not grilled nor had any crisp to it, lots of grease that ran over the plate, and little bits of meat. This plus orange juice (tasted fresh squeezed) and coffee came to $37 w/o tip. Service was good and they did ask if everything was ok. When the food is so off, and they serve it, where do you start?
My wife and I and our daughters family,two adults and two children, went to Family Meal on Christmas Eve. Service and food were both excellent, not sure what other reviewers are talking about. Our server was very pleasant and brought anything that we asked for, extra plates,extra side dishes etc. We are from Pa. her daughter is from Va.and we would go back.
I've got to wonder where the people complaining about portion size are used to eating. I'm a big guy and I haven't left Family Meal hungry.
Family Meal is an upscale diner. It has comfort food with just a little bit extra. My personal favorites are the Ranch Eggs for breakfast and the Steak Salad for lunch. My kids are big fans of the fried chicken and duck fries.
Went here for dinner the other night and won't be back. Chopped salad was bland, macaroni and cheese tasted like something I could make in my own oven, fritters were dry, and restaurant was noisy and cold.
Took my wife, her parents, and our kids on a Sunday evening. Wasn't too crowded, but was told that we'd have to sit outside if we wanted a seat because they only have 1 area with seating for groups of 6 or more. We chose to sit outside. Prices were high, portions were SMALL. Mother in law got the rockfish for over 20 dollars...it was litterally three bites of fish! I got the burger which for $11 I expected some kind of side. It came out raw in the middle. I sent it back and got a replacement 30 minutes later. The family was done, the manager apologized and took it off the bill. Desserts were ok at best. The worst part of the experience was the sick feeling I had the entire next day from my small burger meal. Won't be returning.
If you're looking here, you probably know a little about Family Meal: it's Brian Voltaggio's gourmet take on diner food. We ate about 8 on a Sunday night - it wasn't crowded, and the light from inside looked like a Hopper painting come to life. It wasn't crowded, and was rather quiet (even with a crying child at the next table). It's pretty, looking modern with wooden "booths" (they are a little crowded). We ordered soup, salad, an entree, and a few sides (including the duck fat fries). The quality of the food was wonderful (though the mac & cheese needed salt), the presentation great, but the portions...small. Don't expect to pay diner prices, but then again your bill will be smaller than at Volt. Service was attentive - but it wasn't busy
Booths were unusually small. We aren't large people, but the 3 of us were definitely cozy in a booth. For almost $8.00 a glass for the wine, I can say that I was a bit disappointed with my less than 4 oz glass. Moving on to the appetizers. I'm certain I make better deviled eggs in my kitchen with a little mayo/mustard and salt & pepper. Definitely not worth the price tag for 4 halves... Dinner was so/so to almost inedible. I ordered the Prawns and Grits. It was like eating a slimy, cold oatmeal with no flavor at all and very small shrimp. The meal was replaced with a smile and returned hot and flavorful, but horrible consistency.. The ticket totaled right around $115.00 for the 3 of us. We passed on dessert. We won't be returning. :(
Went here based on this review. TERRIBLE, unfriendly service. LOUD, could barely talk to the people at our table. No side plates for the 'share' food, just all stick your forks in and hope nothing falls onto the dirty table. Swatted flies all through our entire meal (common complaint apparently) and we ate indoors. Food was average at best with portions that wouldn't feed a child. 3 tablespoons of corn, a slice of fried green tomato cut into mandarin orange sized wedges. Dry, blan macaroni and cheese that wasn't even a portion for one person yet two. The scoop of ice cream on our cobbler was the size of a melon ball. Well I at least can thank you for explaining why the chicken was so salty that I can still taste it today - b
I visited Family Meal for the first time today. My wife and I had been talking about trying Brian's latest venture. We decided that I should try it for breakfast first. Today was the day and the food was very good, pricey but good. My only problem was with the Diet Coke. First of all it was a "Baby" bottle more suited to a hotel mini-bar. The cost was similar at $2.49. The topper was when I was charged for the second one!! $4.98 for 12 oz. of Diet Coke!!! I can get a 12 pack at Giant cheaper than that. No Mas!!!
This place has the ambiance and acoustics of the indoor pool over at the YMCA. To me it doesn't matter how great the food is, if it can't be savored and enjoyed in a pleasant environment. The noise levels at Family Meal are decidedly unpleasant. The food might indeed be a gustatory and oral pleasure, but the aural displeasure pretty much ruins things. To me, it's oral vs. aural. Giving equal weight to those two senses, it's tough (for me) to fathom how such a noisy place can get a "Good" rating from Tom S. I might try takeout, but until they do something about the noise levels, I wouldn't go back there even if someone else were picking up the tab.
My family (hubby, me, 3 yr old and 10 mos) were in Frederick on Thursday. We happened upon Family Meal at 5pm. It was already packed and so we ended up sitting outside. It was hot, BUT the service was great and so was the food! It was family friendly and still a high quality meal. We had the gazpacho, heirloom tomato salad, wedge salad, fried green tomatoes, duck fat fries and the 3 yr old had the grilled cheese with fries and fruit. The only thing I didn't LOVE was the fried green tomatoes. My 10 month old was drinking the gazpacho! It was excellent! We'd definitely go back (with or without kids!)
Very slow service! After being served water, had to ask someone to take our order (15 minutes). The order took 20 minutes to arrive. Upon arrival, my son asked for barbecue sauce and the young lady said she didn't know whether they had it, but she would check. Needless to say, she never came back with an answer. In my opinion, price is inconsistent with the portion size. I would not return or recommend to anybody.
Over-priced for the portion size, which is quite small. Fried chicken was good, not great, but hot sauce for fried chicken was thermonuclear - needed to have a warning. No meatloaf or pizza, selection not quite right. Why is it called Family Meal? Sounds like false advertising to me. More likely, Volt-lite. Room for improvement here.
Went to dinner last night at the family diner with the two kids. The menu was family friendly with a substantive kids menu. The adult selection was varied - rockfish - fried chicken - flat-iron steak were some of main courses we ordered. The sides were also very interesting - grilled asparagus and tarragon creamed corn. In general, the food was excellent and reasonably priced. The rockfish dish was well designed and cooked well. The fried chicken was a substantial portion accompanied by excellent chive/buttermilk biscuits - - and in a homage to the region, with bread & butter pickles. However, unlike the local fried chicken, it was juicy and not bland, being accompanied by a side of hot sauce. Oh, for under $12.00! Highly reocmmend
My wife and I spent our first of many evenings at Frederick’s new diner, Family Meal. “Diner” is a misnomer in terms of menu concoctions but not in terms of the friendly atmosphere and accommodating wait staff. Presentations are absolutely top drawer, outdone only by food quality.
We had a couple beers, Chicken Pot Pie Fritters, Fried Green Tomatoes, Deviled Eggs and the slam-dunk of desserts in a light melt-in-your-mouth eight layer chocolate cake and a lemon meringue pie with blue berry toping and blue berry ice cream. Outstanding!
The fritters were excellent. The coating on the green tomatoes, topped with candied bacon, could have been lighter but great flavor and the deviled eggs were a delight. Bacon to caviar topping; special!
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