When Philadelphia superchef Jose Garces joined forces with the marvelous Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts to provide all of the catering services within the arts center in 2013, we knew the match would be a megahit.
Now, the Garces Group expands its culinary-arts offerings at the Kimmel even further with the debut of Volvér, which is Spanish for “to return,” a splashy restaurant on the ground floor that offers two distinct dining experiences based on chef Jose Garces world travels — a first-come, first-served champagne bar and a ticketed theatrical dining adventure.
Philadelphia architecture firm KieranTimberlake and interior designer Marguerite Rodgers created a stunning space in the area of the Kimmel that was formerly the gift shop.
The open-to-the-public restaurant within the arts center — a first for Philadelphia — makes for a grand new ground-floor destination, and further animates and activates this already multifaceted public gathering space, putting the spotlight on the variety of diverse arts programming now available throughout the Kimmel Center.
The Food and Drink
Last week, Bar Volvér, the restaurant’s champagne and caviar lounge, welcomed its first guests with a menu that heavily revolves around its 1,500-bottle deep wine list, which features more than 50 sparkling varietals.
To pair with the sparklers, diners can order such haute bar snacks as caviar, charcuterie and cheese, as well as small plates like oyster tartare with horseradish cream cheese foam and black truffle concentrate. For the complete menu, check here.
As of this week, both the bar and dining room are open and ready for service, launching what can be thought of as a spring season for this new culinary arts space.
During each two nightly seatings, carefully composed multi-course tasting menus created by chef Garces and chef de cuisine Natalie Maronski will be served from a completely open kitchen, revealing nearly the entire back-of-house culinary process and offering diners a behind-the-scenes look into the culinary process.
With service nightly Wednesday through Sunday, the dining room at Volvér offers two menus: a pre-theater tasting and a grand performance tasting. For the pre-theater tasting option, the menu features eight courses and ranges from $75 to $120 per person. Later, a second seating — the “Performance” — starts with a first course of four snacks, followed by a staggering 12 courses for $175 to $250 per person. For both seatings, beverage pairings or a la carte beverages are available.
From the exhibition kitchen, diners can expect gorgeously composed plates at both services that are works of art in and of themselves. A collaborative menu-development process between Garces, Maronski and the entire back-of-house staff gave way to a host of creative dishes. Each plate tells a story, too, of Garces’ life and travels that will be revealed during dinner service.
Inspired plates include the likes of a garden tasting with live lettuces from Garces’ Luna Farm; deviled egg duck liver mousse; Wagyu beef cooked on embers with beet root crema; and Monterey Bay squid stuffed with house-made green curry tapioca and coconut bubbles, and so much more.
The menus will certainly evolve with the restaurant, and with the talented kitchen staff amassed by chefs Garces and Maronski, we expect nothing short of feats of culinary splendor. For the current dining room menus, check here.
Hardly a traditional reservation system, tickets to the dining room at Volvér are akin to theater or sporting event tickets and are available for parties of two, four or six. For more information on reservations and to book dining tickets, check online.
Remember, though, that Bar Volvér is always open on a first-come, first-served basis — no ticket required.
Now that the complete dining offerings are on the table at Volvér, the culinary arts truly have a solid presence within the sprawling performing arts center on the Avenue of the Arts.
Don’t miss the show.
When: Bar Volvér, Wednesday-Sunday, 4-11 p.m.; Dining room, Wednesday-Sunday, 5-11 p.m.
Where: Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, Broad and Spruce streets
More info: www.volverrestaurant.com