ImportantReview about the 2015 edition.
First of all, what is Volta’s summer popcorn camp? Volta’s website says it is an culinary adventure in the middle of a cornfield. You can enjoy refreshing summer dishes in a custom made (Pakistani) nomad tent. Your dinner (or lunch) will be served at a 38 meter long table also custom made by Jean-Marie Waelkens. You can also enjoy drinks in their improvised lounge and you can even stay for the night… Sounds good right?
We got lucky and where able to have dinner on day one. We’ve had dinner at Volta about 5 times over the last two years and have always been a big fan of Davy De Pourcq’s work as a chef. Its simple and accurate to say that the quality of food served at Volta’s popcorn camp is just as good as what they serve in their restaurant. If you want to know more about their food then I suggest you read the review we have written about Volta’s restaurant.
There are a few things we enjoyed about the concept so let’s start there. First of all, it’s nice to have the chance to have dinner in a nomad tent. The whole infrastructure looks beautiful. I’m sorry to say this but that’s the only nice thing I can say about this concept. For me, it’s a failure and I’ll tell you why. To start there’s the 38 long table. It sounds cool until you sit at the table together with about 112 other people. This means that you have about 70cm space for yourself. I would say this is a minor problem if you arrive with a large gathering of friends and/or family but if you are planning a romantic evening you will be very disappointed. The level of privacy is zero and you will bump into the person sitting next to you. Keep in mind that the wooden “bench” you are sitting on is more or less one continuous piece of wood. If you are planning to use the toilet (or leave your seat for any other reason) I advise you to do some stretching exercises before dinner.
Another problem related to the fact that someone made the decision to seat far too many people is that the service is a disaster. I have tremendous respect for everyone working at Volta but they just CAN’T deliver the quality of service you come to expect at this price range. There is NO connection between the staff and the customer. It’s a machine and it turned Volta’s (very talented staff) into robots.
An otherwise terrific sommelier suddenly failed to fill glasses that where empty for more then 15 minutes. I really feel bad for the people working for this money machine because I’m sure (even if they won’t admit it), this wasn’t what they signed up for at Volta. If you wanna have a normal conversation you’re also out of luck since guess what… when 112 people are talking all together it sounds like having dinner in a soccer stadium (and I don’t mean the lounge).
Let’s talk about the food. I liked every dish but I’m still not happy. Again this has nothing to do with the chef’s skill, he is outstanding. The food just hasn’t got anything to do with the concept. Unless you count the fact that some plates contained a few pieces of popcorn as a revolutionary change. In reality you just get the same food as you would get in their restaurant.
Tell me… Why should someone drive to Zomergem to have dinner in a tent, sit uncomfortable for at least two hours while unable to talk to the people they accompany if you aren’t serving something “special” that makes this all worth the trouble? This whole concept makes no sense! Volta should be honest and just call it what it is. Dinner in a tent! Nothing more! Presenting it as something special, a once in a lifetime opportunity is just a plain lie. I guess everything goes as long as there are people who want to pay for it.
For those still not convinced, three of the five dishes where fish dishes! What do fish and a corn field have in common, well let me tell you. NOTHING! Off course you should include a fish dish, but why three? There was also one meat dish which quite ironic was over seasoned. Because Hertog Jan also has a concept based around a farm I’ll just give a few examples of what Volta could serve there if they wanted. Right from his current menu:
Why not serve a dish where vegetables are center of attention. At a farm there might be cows, chickens, pigs and even vegetables. What you can’t find on a farm and especially not in a cornfield is a goddamn fish!
Some other things that bothered me or might bother other people who are about to pay at least 70 EUR/PP. I didn’t like the fact that after they open my white wine, it wasn’t stored cold. I’m not joking, my white wine was room (tent) temperature by the time I had dessert.
I’m also sure some people didn’t enjoy a dog running around the tent and the kitchen. Don’t get me wrong, I like dogs but then again, I don’t have a dog allergy.
Conclusion: even while I enjoy dinning at Volta and have the outmost respect for Mr De Pourcq’s talent and off course the dedication of the entire staff, we cannot approve this cash grab. This isn’t a culinary adventure, this is an agonising experience. I feel betrayed.
Wine: 49 EUR
Total (incl mojito, champagne, etc): 215EUR
More fish than in a Jesus campBook 70cm of space!
9930 Zomergem (BE)
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