Leftovers: Stray Thoughts From My Review Of Volver

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A few additional musings about my meal(s) at Volver

Volver is very expensive, but…
As I noted in my review, “There’s no arguing that the $600 my wife and I spent, including a few glasses of wine and an inspired beverage pairing, could have bought a fantastic meal elsewhere with enough money left over to feed 10 foster children for a month.” But it’s also true that a year’s worth of cable would feed even more mouths, and that forgoing an iPhone upgrade would save you enough for the full 14 courses at Volver. Personally, I still wrestle with the cost of meals like this. But the debate over the cost of dinner shouldn’t take place in a vacuum. Everybody makes his own choices about what to spend money on, and eating out is one among many options to spend wisely or poorly. I mean, right now the 76ers are selling single courtside tickets for $790. The Sixers! After going 19-63!

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Restaurant Review: Volvér

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Photos by Jason Varney

Editor’s Note: Beginning this month, Trey Popp’s reviews for Philadelphia magazine will be running first on Foobooz–weeks ahead of their appearing in print. And what better way to kick off this new arrangement than with the first four-star ranking that Trey has ever given–of his near-perfect experience at Jose Garces’s remarkable new restaurant, Volver.

Halfway through dinner at Volvér—after the scallop that was seared while still living, after the duck-liver mousse in a trick egg white conjured out of goat milk and orange-blossom water, after the puffed pork rinds with smoked-buttermilk dulce de leche and the bacalao takoyaki’s crepe-edged crackle—a savory course arrived in a pair of cupped hands. 

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Jose Garces Is Aiming High with Volver

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From the Garden, including live lettuce from Garces’s Luna Farm.

Tonight is the night that Jose Garces’s Volver debuts its ticketed dining at the Kimmel Center. The restaurant will immediately leap to number one in the city in at least one respect,  Volver will be the most expensive dining experience in town.

What remains to be seen is whether Garces, chef de cuisine Natalie Maronski and their team at Volver can deliver. There are two menus available, the pre-theater tasting of eight-or-so courses for $75-$100 and the performance tasting, which rings in at 12+ courses for $175 per person. These prices do not include tax, gratuity or alcohol. The grand wine pairing, which is available with the pre-theater dinner is $50 and includes tax and gratuity. That means early evening diners can get out for $146 per person with wine pairings. Or if you want to go all out with the performance tasting, it will be north of $300 per person with the drink pairings.

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In the Kitchen at Volver

Kyle Baddorf, Josh Massaro and Jose Garces testing recipes.

Kyle Baddorf, Josh Massaro and Jose Garces testing recipes.

Last Thursday I checked out how menu testing was going over at Volver with Jose Garces, Natalie Maronski and the rest of the Volver team.

I was lucky enough to eavesdrop on the team as they discussed the best way to plate their salad with greens from Garces’ Luna Farm. I smelled water that had the fragrance of pot soil. I sampled “Kentucky Fried Sqab” from the performance kitchen’s pressure fryer. And I got a bite of perhaps the best fish I’ve ever tasted.

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A Preview of Jose Garces’ Volver at the Kimmel Center

Designed by Philadelphian Conrad Booker, the textile mural is inspired by Volver's logo.

Designed by Philadelphian Conrad Booker, the textile mural is inspired by Volver’s logo.

Volver, Jose Garces’ culinary showcase is set to open in April at the Kimmel Center. The space will feature a caviar and champagne lounge as well as a forty-seat performance dining area. Garces, architects KieranTimberlake and interior designer Marguerite Rodgers have collaborated to design a space that highlights the arts, culinary and otherwise.

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