Several months ago, I took a good friend of mine to Volver for drinks. He’s a little bit of a New York snob (which he’ll openly admit), but I knew I won him over when he said that this was the first place in Philly that he’d been to that felt like New York.
I, too, loved the place, even though it had received the reputation of being way out of my price range. Yes, dinner at Volver is, by far, quite an expense, but Bar Volver is a whole other experience. In short, it’s a little place of hip heaven just a few blocks away from the Gayborhood (attached to the Kimmel Center), and you really ought to check it out. Read more »
We’ve said a lot of things about Volver over the past two years. From excitement over its potential, to bewilderment over its policies and pricing, to amazement at our first experience with a full-on performance dinner, to more bewilderment as the menu resolutely refused to change over the course of many, many months even as the concept got tweaked to make it more approachable in the second “season”.
Along the way, Volver picked up the only 4-star review that Trey has ever handed out at Philly mag, warranted a special, extra digression online after the review went up, discussing the booze, the price, the stars and the fish with its own TED Talk, and then frightened us all deeply when it announced a summer vacation–a two month long summer vacation which, not for nothing, seemed extraordinary and odd. I mean, what restaurant just gets to close down for two months in the middle of summer? What is this, France?
The team promised that they’d be re-opening on September 2nd (with Bar Volver debuting early–this Wednesday, as a matter of fact), reinvigorated and with brand new menus. We were skeptical, but hopeful. Volver has had a weird, bumpy run. We have been both fervent supporters and aporetic assholes, loudly voicing our worries and complaints in public. But the place still served me (and several of my colleagues) some of the best plates we’ve had in years, and considering the professional mouths I associate with, that’s no small thing. So when they invited us down to the kitchen late last week to show us what they’ve been working on during their summer vacation, we wasted no time.
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The Vetri Family is hosting several summer dinner events, and if a little education (and a lot of good food) sounds ideal to you, then there’s probably something here that you’ll want to check out.
The dinners will happen once a week throughout July, each night following a distinct theme. Peruse the list below and decide on your favorite. Not sure there’s actually a bad choice here…
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Volver is done for the summer. Not for a week (as is becoming almost standard among many of the more notable Philly restaurants), or for two weeks (which is the point at which we grow nervous about them ever opening back up again), but for a full two months.
The final night of service was June 30, at which point the whole place (Bar Volver included) went quietly dark. This is the message left on their Open Table page:
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If you like your wine like you like your jewelry, sparkling, then we have the dinner for you. On Wednesday, May 27th at 6:30 p.m., Volver is hosting a Raventos i Blanc wine dinner with winemaker Pepe Raventos. The dinner is limited to 20 people and will be $150 per person. Reservations can be made by calling, 215.670.2303.
Check out the menu »
Volver, which recently overhauled its dinner menus has also redone its bar menu. And for fans of Avance’s lamb burger, the appearance of lamb burgers under the Snacks section has to set their hearts aflutter. For those not quite as obsessive as we are about Philadelphia’s restaurant scene, this looks like the result of Jose Garces bringing Justin Bogle on as corporate executive chef for the Garces Group. Bogle was integral to the “Season Two” menu at Volver and it would appear, at least one of the new bar menu items.
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Volvér is saying “suck it” to everyone who doubted it would last a year by throwing an anniversary party tonight. Join them in sticking it to the proverbial man (oh, how I hate the proverbial man…) with a celebratory Happy Hour tonight from 5:30-7pm.
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Which means that now is a great time to make a reservation if you haven’t already tried the place out. Because while Volver has been somewhat embattled since its opening, it still served me one of the best meals I had last year, and that’s no small thing.
Beginning on Wednesday, March 4, Volver will be offering its six-course tasting menu for $55 between 5-6pm and 9-10pm–not counting Fridays and Saturdays. Yes, these can be inconvenient times to eat. But still, some of the best dishes off the full, 12-course tasting menu (like the Beef On Embers, the Live Scallop and Kentucky Fried Squab) are available on the short version, and at only $55 a head, you’re talking a cheaper dinner than three courses at many of the mid-range restaurants around Philly.
You can check out the full menus here.
Pork Belly Bao Buns from Chifa
Every Wednesday night, Bar Volver offers special deals on cocktails, wine and snacks (PDF). And tomorrow, Wednesday, January 14th, Jose Garces’s Kimmel Center bar has a little something special planned.
Volver’s chef de cuisine, Natalie Maronski who was Garces’s chef at Chifa (the Iron Chef’s Peruvian/Chinese mashup), is bringing back some of Chifa’s favorite buns, duck tacos, wings and other dishes for one night.
Happy hour at Volver runs from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and you’ll want to get there early to get a taste of Chifa.
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