Volvér – A Second Look

by artfuldiner on January 14, 2022

in Artful Diner Review, Breaking News, Pennsylvania, Review, Wining and Dining


300 South Broad Street

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

(215) 670-2302


Volver - InteriorTo the immense satisfaction of Philadelphia area foodies – this writer included – chef/owner Jose Garces’ Volvér, which was closed for an extended period due to the Covid pandemic, has now reopened. So, if you are contemplating a visit to the Kimmel Center and seeking a suitable pre-event dining venue, this fine restaurant should, once again, be at the very top of your list of possibilities.

One of the reasons for this, of course, is the fact that Volvér is located right in the Center itself; which, I can tell you from bitter experience, will save you an unbelievable amount of hassle… Instead of rushing from here to there following a hasty dinner – like hoofing several blocks in less-than ideal weather – you are already “there.” The only thing you need to worry about is getting to your seat on time.

Volver - BarBut there is certainly more to dining here than just convenience… Volvér, which opened its doors in April 2014 and was first reviewed by this writer in November 2018, continues to serve up innovative, seasonally-driven cuisine that is subtle in both preparation and presentation. Many would undoubtedly consider the portions here on the diminutive side… but since most of the restaurant’s patrons are headed to a performance at the adjoining Kimmel Center and, therefore, not up for a heavy meal, discretionary ingestion might be considered the better part of peristaltic valor. The à la carte menu is just right for spirited mix ‘n match grazing; and the three-course pre-theater menu, priced at $56.00 (plus beverages, tax & gratuity), also has a good deal to recommend it.

Volver - Shrimp ToastsWhile perusing the menu, why not soothe your restless gastronomic spirit with a creative cocktail – The Brown Derby (Old Grandad, grapefruit, lemon, and honey) is quite intriguing, as is the Rose Gold (Tito’s Vodka, rosemary, passion fruit, and bitters) – and one or more of the “Snacks.” During a previous visit, the Deviled Egg filled with silky duck liver mousse spiked with Pedro Ximénez Sherry clearly stole the show. More recently, the Shrimp Toast (pictured) – sesame, scallion, and karashi (Japanese hot mustard) mayo – acquitted itself equally well.

Volver - Seasonal Greens SaladAs you move on to the “Small Plates” (appetizers), the seasonally changing options currently range from the Snapper Tartare adorned with young ginger, Champagne cream, black olives, Meyer lemon, and poppy seeds to the almost too clever bowl of Milk & Cereal – bacon, glazed chicken, thyme marshmallows, puffed rice, white asparagus, and wild mushrooms – which tastes nothing like what you wolf down for breakfast. My nod, however, goes to the rather innocuously sounding Seasonal Greens Salad (pictured): assorted greenery (mostly peppery arugula) awash with wafer-thin slices of Granny Smith apples & kohlrabi tossed with an exquisite creamy Champagne vinaigrette and crowned with a bonnet of tangy radicchio. Deceptively simple… and utterly sublime.

Volver - Market Fish - BarramundiOver the course of our numerous visits, my permanent dining partner and I have sampled an interesting variety of the restaurant’s entrées. Memorable choices have included Ricotta Gnudi, gnocchi-like dumplings made with ricotta cheese instead of grated or milled russet potatoes. A lighter, pillowy dish in contrast to the often denser, sometimes chewy gnocchi, Volvér’s ethereal rendition was simply extraordinary. The Barramundi (pictured), a sweet, succulent, meaty white-fleshed fish with a clean mild flavor that is similar to halibut, was also quite exceptional… The filet arrived at table swimming in a sensual sea of celeriac emulsion and truffle jus with wild mushrooms and a tiara of watercress playing strong supporting roles.

Volver - Crispy ChickenThe current list of main courses offers such options as Roasted Lamb Chops with eggplant escabeche and Filet Mignon “Philly Style” with caramelized onion purée, toasted sourdough, red wine braised shallots, and alpine cheese fondue. All that sounded a bit too heavy for my dining partner, who decided to give the Crispy Chicken (pictured) a try. This included such accompaniments as a stout braised thigh, bacon lardons, wild mushrooms, and potato purée. As you may observe from the photo, the kitchen won’t win any prizes for presentation on this one, as it looks like all the constituents had been dropped into a bowl from ten thousand feet… It was, however, as my dining partner would attest, quite tasty.

Volver - Trout Meuniere 2My choice during our most recent visit was a long-running menu staple, the Rainbow Trout Meunière (pictured), which I’ve enjoyed on several other occasions. An intriguing presentation, the beautifully sautéed filet was accompanied by braised lentils, Brussels sprout leaves, lemon butter, and horseradish. The fish itself was uniquely flavorful but not too trout-y; and while the embellishments may strike one as slightly on the quirky side, they were delightfully complementary and not at all intrusive.

Like other menu items, desserts vary with the seasons. Past sweet endings have included such treats as the St. Honoré, a salted caramel tart garnished with maple marshmallow & candied peanuts, Orange & Pistachio Parfait, and Chocolate Choux, a chocolate éclair with dark chocolate cream.

Volver - Old-Fashioned Chocolate CakeOur most recent visit offered up a Brown Butter Choux Puff, Beignets with sweet milk coffee, macerated banana, and black sesame and Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake (pictured) contemporized with coconut meringue, pecan gelato, and maple tuille. This was my dessert of choice and it did not disappoint.

One final note: This season, Chef Jose Garces is hosting rising star, minority chefs from around the Philadelphia region for six-week residencies. The Chefs in Residency program places selected chefs’ signature dishes on the menu for 6-8 weeks each, alongside Chef Garces’ French-inspired presentations. Throughout each residency, Volvér will raise funds to support the inaugural line-up of chefs and their current and/or future projects. Donations can be made, similar to tipping a server, when the dinner check is presented. The Garces Foundation will match up to the first $5,000. The matching Grant will be donated by the Garces Foundation, which offers medical and educational resources to the hospitality community…

 Chef Phila Lorn; Date of Residency: December 2, 2021 – January 17, 2022

Chef Jezabel Careaga; Date of Residency: January 26 – March 13, 2022

Chef Jennifer Zavala; Date of Residency: March 16 – May 1, 2022

Chef Alex Yoon; Date of Residency: May 4 – May 31 2022

Chef Dane DeMarco; Date of Residency: June 1 – July 1, 2022

 Bon Appétit!

Be Safe & Stay Well


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