All in the Family

Bryan Voltaggio’s Family Meal takes home-style cooking to a new level.

By Henry Hong - July 2015

Review: Family Meal

Bryan Voltaggio’s Family Meal takes home-style cooking to a new level.

By Henry Hong - July 2015

Fried chicken and buttermilk biscuits with hot sauce. -Photography by Scott Suchman

Bryan Voltaggio’s newest Baltimore project, Family Meal, named for the staff meal eaten before or after a restaurant shift, manages to be in the heart of the Inner Harbor tourism district while remaining invisible from Pratt Street. The fourth of the former Top Chef contestant’s Family Meal restaurants, it’s a choice spot exuding a palpably relaxed vibe, with floor-to-ceiling windows facing the harbor, Pier 5, and the Aquarium just across the plaza.

The menu is similarly approachable, with familiar home-style dishes, shareable sides, straightforward desserts, and stick-to-your ribs breakfasts. Voltaggio’s concept is “modern diner,” and it’s the details of the dishes that exhibit the thoughtfulness and creativity one would expect from a celeb chef. A seemingly simple Maryland catfish sandwich ($13) becomes a lesson in textural interplay, with a tender fillet encased in ephemeral and crisp tempura-like batter, and thin-sliced fried okra lending a slightly different stripe of crunchiness.

Grilled oysters are topped with bacon jam and “cheddar glacage” ($10), a sort of foamy meringue toasted on top and resembling a marshmallow, which renders the bivalves almost candy-like to satisfying effect.

Other standbys—including burgers, meatloaf, smoked brisket, and fried chicken—are less ambitious, but well-executed. The green-bean casserole ($3.99) is actually perfectly blanched haricots verts with an intensely oniony béchamel and shiitakes. Even the humble deviled eggs ($4.99) are prepared with an exquisitely light yolk filling. While not always on the menu, the smoked beet “pastrami” sandwich ($10.99) is another standout.

This sort of culinary rigor is present in Family Meal’s cocktail program as well, where house-made oils, syrups, and spirit infusions (somewhat confusingly referred to as “sous vide”), make for an expansive set of ingredients. “Le Jardinier” ($12) is a particularly good example of balance and nuance—mellow carrot-infused gin with the slightest bite of ginger and citrus, perfumed with a few drops of basil-infused almond oil to finish.

Service is notably hospitable across the board, though not necessarily completely expert in expounding on the menu’s complexities. That aside, locals who rarely venture to this more touristy part of town now have a good reason to visit.

›› Family Meal, 621 E. Pratt St., 410-601-3242. Hours: Mon.-Fri. 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Sat.-Sun. 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Prices: appetizers: $4.99-9.99; entrees: $10-23.99

You May Also Like

On The Town

Step Inside New Guinness Open Gate Brewery and Barrel House

Opening on Friday, the Halethorpe space will be the only Guinness brewery in the U.S.

In Good Taste

Open & Shut: South Point; Pie Time; Local Oyster Stout

The latest restaurant openings, closings, and recent news.

On The Town

Fells Point Fun Festival Evolves into One-Day Event

In 52nd year, weekend gathering is condensed to better highlight the community.

Food & Drink

Review: Topside at Hotel Revival

Hotel Revival’s new rooftop bar helps us see Baltimore in a whole new light.

In Good Taste

Food Inspection Discussion Ramps Up Following Viral Rat Videos

Community weighs in on procedures to prevent future infestations.

Arts District

BOPA Makes Big Push for Paper Straws at This Year’s Artscape

Pedicabs, paper straws, and zero Styrofoam will make for most sustainable festival yet.

Fried chicken and buttermilk biscuits with hot sauce. -Photography by Scott Suchman

Connect With Us

Most Read

Scalawags Pit Meat Brings Barrel-Smoked Barbecue to Local Pop-Ups: Gnocco general manager Sam White launches a pit beef project.

Where to Find the Best Co-Working Spaces in Baltimore: Find free parking, complimentary coffee, and even child care at these shared spaces around town.

Center Stage Names Stephanie Ybarra as New Artistic Director: With an interest in social justice and inclusivity, Ybarra will come to Baltimore from New York's Public Theater this fall.

Bike Share Stations Out and Dockless Bicycles and Scooters In: Struggling bike share program cancelled as City shifts to new technologies.

New BGE and Maryland Zoo Partnership Provides Fresh Food for the Animals: The program will use tree trimmings to feed various animals at the zoo.