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The Early Word on Bryan Voltaggio's Family Meal

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Photo: R. Lopez

Bryan Voltaggio's newest Frederick venture, Family Meal, has been dishing out dinners of fried chicken and fried green tomatoes for about a month. But now that breakfast and lunch have been available too since July 7, it's time to check in and see how the modern diner comfort food experiment is going so far. Here's an early look at the reports from Frederick locals, Voltaggio fans and other Family Meal diners.

The Confused News: Eater commenter Snakefantone wonders what the restaurant's theme is supposed to be, exactly: "The family meal is as confused as any family these days. Wants to be a diner but has sous vide pork chops that taste boiled and waitstaff that fold your napkins if you leave to wash your hands. Careful if you put down your fork - the staff will take it off the table as well as the rest of your unfinished meal assuming you are done eating and will try to turn the table to get the next diner hungry party in and get you out." [Eater Comments]

The Rave: Blogger Scott Edelman loved it all, from the crispy pig ears mixed with soft-cooked egg to the Moleskine notebooks the servers use to record orders. And he really dug the fried chicken and biscuits: "The chicken breast I did eat was just about the best fried chicken breast I can remember. It was a perfectly cooked, as juicy as I’ve ever had a chicken breast (most fried chicken breasts turn out somewhere between slightly and very dry), with an intriguing blend of spices, none so powerful that they overwhelmed the meat. The biscuits were also excellent." [Scott Edelman]

The Bad News: One unhappy Yelper dissed the prices and the service: "In a general sense, Bryan Voltaggio's attempt to bring the diner experience to his new restaurant has failed. The reason is because a group of 6 people should be able to eat at a "diner" for less that $200, even if they get appetizers and dessert. First of all, the service was SLOW. Very slow. It took at least 15 minutes to get our drink orders. The whole meal took 2 hours to complete." [Yelp]

The Terrible News: After visiting for breakfast, another Yelper wrote: "I tried the biscuits & gravy; tasteless pasty biscuits and a drizzle of reddish-brown gravy with a bit of cayenne and some sausage morsels. The dish arrived barely had apparently sat on the counter for a while before it was brought to our table. At least I got three eggs with that. My partner had a broccoli rabe/mushroom omelet that was good, but came out almost at room temperature. The grits were liquid with the consistency of corn chowder. That, with coffee, came to $50. Not exactly a cheap breakfast (even without the poutine, it was still $33). [Yelp]

The Great News: Another Eater commenter loved the place, writing: "Absolutely delicious fried chicken with an amazing hot sauce...nice twist on texas pete for those of us who appreciate southern/soul food drenched in hot sauce. Served w/ pickles and biscuits. Mac and goat cheese was out of this world." [Eater Comments]

The Milkshake News: Give a Girl a Cookie coveted the wait staff's Anthropologie-esque aprons, but didn't get why she was only offered one milkshake flavor: "Here's where I am somewhat baffled. They offer a banana split with bourbon vanilla, chocolate, and cherry ice creams. They offer a lemon meringue pie with a scoop of blueberry ice cream. There's a cinnamon cake with bay leaf ice cream. Yet they can only make you a vanilla milkshake. Someone please tell me how this makes sense." [Give a Girl a Cookie]

The Breeders Weigh In News: Commenters on Frederick Maryland Online didn't think Family Meal turned out to be very family-friendly, due to the prices, restaurant layout, atmosphere, and kids' menu options, but one commenter liked the portion sizes: "We expected small portion sizes as well (based on Volt and Lunchbox) but all of our portions were huge — we barely finished the sides and pork and we wound up taking 2 pieces of chicken home. I thought everything was good. The duck fat fries were probably the least special (tasted a lot like fries we’ve had in other places – good but not amazing) but the mac and cheese had a great crunchy crust with plenty of gooey cheese inside. And our chicken and pork were both very tender and juicy. We also got drinks – my Corpse Reviver was refreshing without being overly sweet." [Frederick Maryland Online]

The Great Foursquare News: Pretty much all of the Foursquare tips for Family Meal are positive, with members positively freaking out over the "to die for" fried chicken and "other worldly" chicken pot pie bites. [Foursquare]

The Top Chef Solidarity News: Mike Isabella made a day of it in Frederick and visited both of his buddy's new venues, but no mention of what he thought of the food. He tweeted: "On my way to Frederick to visit my good friend @BryanVoltaggio. Lunch at #LunchBox, dinner at #FamilyMeal." [Twitter]

—Adele Chapin

Family Meal

880 N East Street, Frederick, MD 21701 301 378 2895

Family Meal

880 North East St, Frederick, MD