Diners can accessorize the grilled and roasted dishes with a field of vegetable side dishes, the best of which are deep-fried Brussels sprouts splashed with fish sauce and garnished with lacy onion rings, and roasted cauliflower tossed with almonds, golden raisins and za’atar, the Middle Eastern spice blend. Sweet potato puree smacks of dessert; “everything” mashed potatoes are “everything” bagels, hold the bread. The spuds sound peculiar but taste delicious.
Lesser memories? Striped bass heads south with barbecue-flavored hazelnuts, sorghum vinaigrette and corn bread puree: not a trip I plan to take again.
The prime seats are those to the left of the bar, a curved stretch with floor-to-ceiling windows that look into the atrium on one side and with a view of the cooking stations — “a chef’s playground,” Voltaggio calls them — on the other. The expanse in the back feels more like an overflow room. Range’s cream-colored seats and muted palette let the food shine; a retail shop with Voltaggio-approved kitchen equipment feels as if Williams-Sonoma crashed the party.
Take advantage of the sterling credentials of the sommeliers. Keith Goldston and more recently Kathy Morgan clearly enjoy sharing the stories behind their liquid wares, which call to both the haves and the have-not-as-muches with a broad range of wines and prices. France is particularly well represented. Consider the 2010 Pinot Blanc Barriques from Ostertag, a versatile charmer from Alsace for a mere $34 — or, if you’re celebrating, a premiere cru from Domaine Ramonet. Range’s range embraces lots of obscure but impressive wine, evinced by, say, the 2009 Querciabella Mongrana from Tuscany (for just $36). Don’t drink? Range makes its own sodas, in true-tasting flavors.
Throughout the night, a cart of confections rolls across the 14,000-square-foot expanse, a reminder to save room for something sweet. When the art-on-wheels pulls up to your table, you want to hoover the lot. Handsomely displayed under glass cloches are tender pistachio financiers, rosemary-apricot biscotti and sublime smoked cashew brittle. (The dry, hybrid Rice Krispies s’mores, on the other hand, are not a plug for either treat.) To the side of the cloches are bite-size chocolates in more than a dozen flavors, running from the expected espresso and salted caramel to pistachio-yuzu and a fiery Mexican hot chocolate. I’m not a big sweets lover; the cart at Range persuaded me to cave. Act 2 of dessert, orchestrated by executive pastry chef Johnny Miele, finds more traditional endings: bread pudding, apple crisp, a goat cheese cheesecake brightened with kumquat and Meyer lemon.
Range has sweep, heft and heart. Take a bow, Mr. Voltaggio and cast.