After having one of the most incredible meals I've ever tasted, I can't help but brag about Volo...like how shining and pretty the interior was, with the lustrous feel of the slate tabletops. I could go on and on about the impressive design, with its earthy wall of black doors, big exposed pipes, and the tiny, open kitchen doling out the most mouth-watering scents I've ever smelled. But, as lovely as the interior is, the real superstar here is the food.
Young, charismatic owner Jon Young, a 15-year veteran of the restaurant industry (most know him from Kitsch'n fame), steals a little of the culture from Mexico, where he worked for a spell, and noticed that it was simply "a place where the social lifestyle is centered around the meal." Hoping to create the same vibe in Chicago, he serves small plates of mostly organic, rustic food and flights of wine (with titles like Spanish Speaking and Riesling Trinity), all relatively affordable and chosen to match the ever-changing menu. Not only have he and his Chef/Partner Stephen Dunne (MK, Spago, Rubicon) trumped the competition, they have literally blown them out of the water.
The delightful bread presentation is first up. A lightly toasted half-loaf of country bread (straight from Fulton Market) is wrapped in a linen cloth and brought to the table along with a roasted garlic infused olive oil and a dab of butter. On the small plate menu, expect dishes like stewed escarole and chubby white beans, heirloom tomato salads and an amazing sweet pea and parmesean pizza.
The chef likes to refer to the menu as "new American," and with dishes like duck confit, crisp potatoes and roasted garlic puree ($13) competing with seared diver scallops with quails egg and American Sturgeon caviar ($16), a melting pot of cultures has indeed been accomplished. Being the smart cookies that they are, the owners change the chalkboard menu weekly, featuring seasonal produce and desserts from Hot Chocolate.
In summer the backyard turns a dressed up 100-year old patina barn into a cocktail space, replete with cabana beds, an organic garden and wine tasting events, just like the backyard you always wished you had (but could never afford). Go on Mondays, when bottles of wine are half-price.
Average cost: $21-$30
Centerstage Reviewer: Misty Tosh