The works of art on the tasting menus at Chef Garces’ Kimmel Center standout will leave adventurous diners eager for a return
by Leigh Ann Stuart

Jose Garces’ Volvér is well into its second year at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia, and its menu continues to innovate and surprise.

The eight- and 12-course tasting menus, $95 and $150 respectively, were devised by Chef Garces and his team, including chef cuisine Natalie Maronski and corporate chefs Justin Bogle and Gregg Ciprioni. The optional beverage pairing, artfully curated by sommelier/beverage director Gordana Kostovski, features wines—sparkling, white, red and rosé—from around the world.

Both menus present diners with a selection of works of art for the eyes and the palate alike. An opening offering is Volvér’s take on French onion soup, which is similar to its namesake in flavor profile alone; the wholly new take on the classic features a burst-in-the-mouth bubble of rich, savory stock served in a tartlet shell topped with shaved gruyere.

A subsequent course, Salinas, presents diners with a treasure trove of Ecuadorian-style ceviche orchestrated artfully on the half-shell in a manner reminiscent of Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus.”

Chawanmushi, next, is a Zen garden of umami—savory Japanese egg custard dotted with puffed nori, shiitake mushrooms and ultra-flavorful bits of teriyaki-glazed shortrib.

A particularly unique bite from the 12-course menu is a meringue unlike any other; maroon and flavored of beet, the airy crunch of the crisp meringue dome envelops treasures of Siberian sturgeon caviar and smoked crème fraîche. Guests experiencing this long-form dining experience will also have the opportunity to enjoy the carabinero, which offers a delicate treatment of the prized shellfish; the light, salty-sweet tail flesh is removed and served tableside, accompanied by a painter’s palette of sauces including chermoula and preserved lemon.

Frozen rhubarb, a dessert on the 12-course menu, is served atop buttermilk panna cotta topped with buckwheat and spring herbs.

The restaurant’s name itself, Volvér—Spanish for “to return”—will speak to the desire of adventurous gourmands who will likely wish to return to experience the menus as they change with the seasons.

300 S. Broad Street, Philadelphia

* The current menu, launched for the spring season, will be available through June.

Carabinero photograph courtesy of Garces Group