The show-kitchen stage is set for Jose Garces' dining "performance" at the Kimmel Center, where diners prepay tickets for blowout tastings in an airy atelier dining room that, at $500-plus for two, rank among the most expensive and time-consuming in town. The ambition, prime ingredients, and talent are there, with many fine flavors and wines. But the overall experience feels self-indulgent and misguided, fed by server narratives paying homage to the chef, overwrought concepts, and a lack of balance to the menu as a whole that leaves it feeling too long and less than the sum of its parts. Garces sightings are not guaranteed.
Ham stand; bacalao takoyaki; Tsukiji market fish; "milk & cereal"; "from the garden"; "KFS"; petit pois; veta la palma; beef on embers; chocolate in textures. Bar: oysters on the half shell; tartares (Wagyu beef or tuna); charcuterie; Good Thunder cheese; petit fours.
The beverage program is one of Volvér's best assets, from the elegantly crafted cocktails in the bar (try the Broad & Spruce, smoked Marcona Old Fashioned, or Sugar Snap) to the extensive list of "grower" Champagnes (B. Paillard) and spot-on meal pairings. The premier pairing option (about a dozen pours for $95) is fair for the quality and unusual offerings from the Savoie, Spain, Savennieres, Belgian beer, and Madeira. Extensive by-the-glass or bottle options from the international cellar allow diners to splurge (triple-plus mark-ups) or keep it more modest.
A reasonable 82 decibels, occasionally spiked by noisy kitchen equipment. (Ideal is 75 decibels of less.)
Summer hours: $150 menu only, Wednesday through Saturday, 6-8 p.m. Bar open Wednesday through Saturday, 5-10 p.m. Regular season, in fall: Pre-theater menu ($75-$100) at 5 and 5:30 p.m. Performance menu ($175), 6-9 p.m. Tickets must be purchased ahead at