When you first arrive at chef Jose Garces’ newest outpost Volvér, you know you’re in for a theatrical culinary experience. Set inside Philadelphia’s Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, guests pass through a corridor lined with Garces’ travel photography before entering the sleekly minimal glass box dining area that rings the open-air kitchen at the heart of the restaurant.
Building a restaurant around a performing arts center had unique challenges, and it took about two years to develop and build. “A lot of my restaurants are casual to upscale but I didn’t really have anything in my portfolio on this level," Garces said. "It was something that I wanted to do for years. The timing was right in my career to launch a place like this where I can work on my creativity and skill on the highest level. It felt like I needed a platform like that and it spawned Volvér.”
As with any seamless performance, the team at Volvér knows how to hide the considerable effort it takes to pull it off. There’s a clear view from every seat, but the Volvér kitchen is surprisingly low on drama as they work their way through the choreography of the 12-course ticketed tasting menu the restaurant offers. The technique on display is impressive, but it’s the stories Garces attaches to each course that resonate.
“The beauty of Volvér is that it’s an open palate, an open interpretation of many different travel experiences and food memories," Garces said. "The one thing I wanted to have happen with the restaurant is to take down some of the boundaries.”
Next, an in-depth look at the menu...