The last time the Voltaggio brothers worked together was at the Holiday Inn in their hometown of Frederick, Md. A lot has happened since then. Bryan and Michael found fame on Top Chef, which Michael won. Bryan opened a string of highly regarded restaurants in the Mid-Atlantic—including Volt and Range—while his younger sibling has earned accolades galore for Ink in Los Angeles. The pair wrote a well-reviewed cookbook. Both have separately starred in more television shows. Now the local lads are back in the kitchen together.
For their first joint project, the siblings decided to tackle the classic steakhouse concept, since both have experience with it—Michael at The Grill in Naples, Fla., and Brian at Charlie Palmer Steak here in DC. Their chic Steak House in the stunning new MGM National Harbor is visually inspired by “the home we never had,” as Bryan likes to joke. Each space of the restaurant takes its cues from a different room, including a library-inspired bar and a dining space reminiscent of a mod ’70s family room. A vaguely clubby soundtrack serves as a small reminder that you’re in a casino.
At first glance, the menu, overseen by executive chef Cole Dickinson, seems to boast typical steakhouse fare. But when dishes begin arriving at the table, it’s apparent that plenty of modernist flair has been added. Tuna pretending to be steak tartare comes topped with a giant parchment-thin potato chip dotted with sunbursts of emulsified yolk. Small cubes of the fish are dressed with mustard and onion, which add an uplifting pop to the dish.
The brothers’ take on the classic wedge salad features half a head of iceberg face down in a bowl. Tomato jam hides in the folds, while the eye can see pickled red onions, panko-light bacon bits possessing the airy crunch of dehydrated beef, snowy Gorgonzola powder and ranch dressing perked with Old Bay. Though the textures sometimes surprise, the flavors are joyfully familiar.
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