Where the stories end, the invention begins. To develop the menu, Garces would often present an idea to chef de cuisine Natalie Moronski and the team at Volvér and together they all worked on the various elements.
The childhood memory of his father taking him to KFC becomes fried squab, celery root slaw, and gravy. The garden of Garces’ Luna Farm in Bucks County, PA appears on your plate in the form of live lettuce, pistachio purée, edible flowers, goat cheese dirt, and a duck skin crumble. The glass milk carton Garces discovered on a trip to MoMA is filled with grassy, white asparagus milk and poured over rice flakes.
Once the classic grammar school milk and cereal elements were in place, the fun really started. “The rest of the ingredients are all classic things that go well together," Garces said. "We liked the chicken oyster. A unique nugget that’s sometimes thrown away but is a very tender piece of meat confited with garlic, shallots, and rosemary and served with bacon, and fresh black truffles. We made thyme marshmallows to bring back that lucky charms piece.”
For the live sea scallops served with ham broth, pork chowder seafood plankton ravioli, and a razor clam croquette, it was about starting with a great ingredient and finding elements that complement without overwhelming the scallops. “The impetus there was really trying to find the best way to elevate something that is already very perfect in my mind,” says Garces. “We get live scallops that are shucked every day. A live sea scallop is more of a textural thing - it’s very buttery, soft, and shouldn’t have any oceanic flavor.”
A research trip to Argentina inspired the beef on embers - Wagyu beef cooked over Japanese oak and served with beet root purée, provoleta gratin, salsa criollo with red wine vinegar, and nury potatoes. It’s a hard act to follow but Garces asked his now former pastry chef Jessica Mogarto to come up with the perfect ending.
The result was chocolate in textures - a sheet of dark Venezuelan chocolate dappled with gold. Melted brown butter is poured over the top revealing a rich mousse at the center. “The gold sauce was my idea and the hazelnut semifreddo in the middle that was hers,” explains Garces. “I challenged her to help me come up with a show stopping chocolate dish and she managed to do that.”
A pre-show friendly 6-course menu has also been added and Garces has plans to introduce seasonal menus. Beyond the dining room, the lounge and bar offers a la carte items including three types of caviar (American hackleback, Siberion sturgeon, and Ossetra), tartars and tartines, and petit fours which make for singular intermission. It’s not the strict ticketed tasting menu they started with but with so many stories to tell, there’s no limit to the kind of experience to be had.