Volo Wine Bar has got shit locked down. It is labeled as “New American” cuisine, but I have my own label: tasty ass ish. Some of the flavors I have experienced and the little touches make Volo–dare I say–the best Chicago dining experience I have ever had. To my fellow Glutton, Roy: surprisingly this place has better food than spots in San Francisco. It ain’t no joke. I am not a Chicago hater, I just like good ass motherfucking food. With a mixture of tapas, small plates, and some large plates, you are able to work yourself around the menu and get a solid variety of flavors. Chef/Partner Stephen Dunne, who was recently on Iron Chef America alongside Avec’s head chef, is a mad genius when it comes to food design. I make no excuses for the shit I like to eat, but some of my fellow gluttons would equate my culinary choices to being an aboriginal bushman (basically any animal or insect with its back to the sky is fair game). Volo offered me everything I loved to eat, but did so in a translatable way for everyone else who may not have the same palate.
Side bar for all you wine lovers out there–the wine director at Volo has one of the greatest palates for wines of any person I have ever met. My girl Shiren (my server at Volo, one of the best servers I have ever had) told me that they paired all kinds of different junk food (i.e. Skittles and Doritos) with wine…no freaking joke. That’s some skills right there. My recommendation is to make sure you get a wine pair with every course. The wine combo with the menu is a pairing like Siegfried and Roy (one is not quite the same without the other). You get my point, right!?!
On to the food…
We started off with the steak tartare, which was kobe beef served with a house made sesame cracker. This beef melted in my mouth like butter. The combination of spices and flavors came out of nowhere like Mine That Bird at the Kentucky Derby. Watch out, cause you will oust cooked meat for the rest of your life after eating this dish. Tartare everything please!!!
Next up was the steamed P.E.I. black mussels. Everyone tries to do this dish at their joint, but always fail miserably. Point of order: if you have a mussel dish, it should taste like mussels. If I want a glass of generic white wine, chunk of butter, and bland ass soup, I’ll go to Pizza Hut where I can get all three. Volo does it right; the balance and essence of the mussel is extracted perfectly like Bernie Madoff extracting all of Kevin Bacon’s dollas. The broth accentuates the flavors. For all yall who try and serve this dish, step up or step off.
Now here is where I like to get funky. At this point my palate was opened up and I was ready to hit “the zone”. I wanted to be hit with stuff I had not seen before or don’t eat every day. I wanted a challenge for my taste buds…Enter Bone Marrow (I was so fucking excited for this dish, forgot to take a freaking picture). The plate was served with three different salts and toasted baguette, and was an awesome surprise. I know what you squeamish folk are thinking, but hold up let me paint a mental picture for you. Imagine the best beef flavor you ever had and then imagine a million of those beef steaks reduced to a concentrated jelly. I would like to take this time to thank the cow who donated the bone marrow to save my taste buds. Forging on, I found myself looking for more of the unordinary and Volo delivered with Crispy Veal Sweetbreads. Now, if you don’t know what sweetbreads are, go and look it up now…
Ok, you might be thinking there is no way in hell you would eat it, but if the lightly fried coating and a butter milk dressing accompaniment don’t change your mind, then you might as well stick to your plain jane diet of water and bread, cause this dish is Flavor Town and I was all over it.
By this time in the meal, I had had about six different dishes and was feeling the vibe from 6 pours of wine. Honestly, I was just about to reach food nirvana. This portion of the meal is make it or break it time. The entrees can be a continuation of bliss or a distinct downturn which leave the tapas and small plates a distant memory. Well, I was not let down. Duck confit–this duck was dry brined for 12 hours and then slow cooked for 12 hours. That is 24 hours of sussing out the flavors. Put simply, its the equation of a culinary marathon for flavor infusion.
And we didn’t stop there. We followed this entrée with a Osso Bucco. I am not even going to play with a lame attempt of analogies or half amusing puns. This dish is probably the best Osso Bucco I have ever had in my life. Not to mention the best dish I have ever had in Chicago. This was one of those dishes that leaves you sad because as the end nears, you just want another bite. My mouth is watering as I type this; I still remember every flavor.
All in all, I would have to say as a Chicago transplant, Volo is the best dining experience I have had in Chi-tilla. Now that spring is upon the Second City, grab your crew and get a patio spot at Volo. Cheers.