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Reviews

XO Cafe – Providence, RI

Wednesday, April 5, 2012
Desiree Sousa, Out & About Travel / Gay Travel Information (read review here)

XO Cafe is one sexy place. I have been writing reviews for over a year now and I am truly at a lost for words on how to describe this amazing restaurant.

Here goes…

The first thing that struck me was the restaurants decor. I hadn’t even stepped inside and I was already snapping pictures like I was the paparazzi!

It are restaurants like this that make me want to call up the person responsible for the design and gush about what an amazing job they have done. I notice every little detail. The way the red and white neon “X’s and O’s” compliment the neon Yellow and Blue X and O above the door. The little “x’s and o’s” painted on the door.

The outside “Parisian” type tables that are so beckoning on a warm spring evening such as the night my partner and I dined there.

XO Cafe is a heck of a looker! ;) But it’s all about what on the inside right? RIGHT! And in that case, XO Cafe wins the “Miss America of restaurants” because “she” is beautiful inside and out and has substance.

Oh, does she ever have substance.

My partner Jennifer and I were greeted by the friendly hostess and shown to our table by the window. This was an excellent location because it gave me a sweeping view of this sexy restaurant. The photographer in me couldn’t stop snapping photo after photo.

I loved the way the “x’s and o’s” would reflect off utensils and even in my partner’s cocktail!

The lighting is dim and seductive. Lots of glowing red neon, black tables, chandeliers, exotic prints, art and white linens.

Adding to the playful sexiness was the restaurant’s choice of music! How can you not feel a sense of excitement rise inside of you as you listen to Toto’s “Africa”, Foreigner’s “Waiting for a Girl Like You” or Wing’s “Band on the Run”? How about some Journey & Hall and Oats mixed in?

Oh yes my friends. Oh. Yes.

Our waiter for the evening, James, said he had been working at XO Cafe for around two months and was originally from California. He couldn’t have been any more attentive, but not in an overbearing sort of way! He was extremely knowledgable about the menu choices and treated my partner and I very well.

Now, onto the food…..

Oh. My. The. Food.

XO Cafe is a Farm Fresh restaurant. They offer a wide array of farm to table dishes. They support local farms, fisherman, bakers, brewers, and winemakers and only use the freshest of ingredients. This is extremely evident in the food Jen and I were served.

Hands down one of the best meals we have ever experienced.

For the first course I had the most delicious mushroom soup.

Now listen up, I have NEVER been a fan of mushrooms, but chef Simon Keating, changed all that. Wow. The soup was extremely creamy and smooth. James explained that the chef makes it with a stock and drizzles it with a truffle oil. I looked at my partner with a look I don’t think she has ever seen before….. the “I am at a loss for words”….look, but then again, she had a similar look as well.

She ordered the New England seafood chowder.

As a born and raised New Englander, Jen knows “chowdah” — and she said it was the “Finest chowder she had ever had.” The creamy broth and chunks of seafood were pure perfection.

Next came our salads.

I ordered the Spring Salad made with Narragansett Sea Salty feta, toasted almonds, haircot vert, local baby lettuce and Wishing Stone Farm honey vinaigrette.

Jen ordered the Local Asparagus, Slow Roasted Tomatoes salad with Baffoni Farm poached egg, crispy bacon and edible flowers.

Really, what can I say? The salads were both super fresh and Jen’s salad wins as one of the most unique to date. The honey vinaigrette on my salad was so good we used the bread on the table to soak it up and enjoy every last ounce of it! ;)

Speaking of bread, how wonderful is it that XO Cafe gives you two mini cinnamon rolls mixed in with your bread? Yup. Swoon xoxoxoxo.

Waiting for our main course Jen enjoyed her “Paris Hilton” Cocktail (insert jokes here) – which was made with Absolut Pears, elderflower liqueur and lemon twist! Jen loved it!

We were then pleasantly surprised when James appeared with two Martini glasses filled with palate clearing raspberry sorbet which caused me to make a sound I am still blushing over!

Jen and I were being hit with one amazing flavor after another. All of this mixed with pulsating, sexy music from the 80′s. Can you say sensory overload? ;)

For our main course I ordered the 14oz New York Sirloin with a Blue Cheese Au Poivre sauce. For sides I ordered the Garlic Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes and one of XO’s signature dishes, the Bacon Mac & Cheese (excuse me while I daydream about this for a moment……..ahhhh).

Jennifer ordered the Seared Bomster Scallops served with crispy pork belly, Asian slaw and spicy miso.

My steak was cooked to perfection. I like my steak well done which can equal burnt and dry – not so at XO Cafe. The steak was crispy on the outside and moist on the inside. The Blue Cheese sauce was the perfect match.

The mashed potatoes were silky smooth and creamy with a powerful, yet not overpowering flavor of garlic. Yum!

But, oh my God. Oh. My. God. The. Bacon. Mac. And. Cheese.

I must’ve looked extremely unprofessional as I scooped the 2nd and 3rd servings of the bacon mac & cheese onto my plate and, with no shame, shoveled it down in record speed.

It was at this point I told James that I wanted to take chef Simon Keating home with me. I wasn’t kidding. I think I scared James momentarily! ;) He laughed and said “I couldn’t take him!” I winked and continued to indulge in the incredible food in front of me.

Then there was Jennifer with her Scallops. Put it this way, she wanted to take Simon home too! lol. Her scallops were seared perfectly. Crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside with the flavor from the pork belly was infused into the scallops.

BUT WAIT! There is more. Owner, John Elkhay and chef, Simon Keating encourage guests to “order dessert first, because life is short.” No problem there! ;)

Jennifer and I placed our order right upon arrival.

I had read some amazing things about a dessert offered called “A Study in Chocolate.” This dessert is large enough for 2 people and seemed like the way to go, and boy, was it!

This is the chocolate desserts of all chocolate desserts. It consisted of an extremely decadent platter of chocolate served in eight ways. There was house made chocolate ice cream in a sugar bowl, white chocolate creme brulee with the perfect crunch, pecan chocolate brownies with raspberry sorbet, a strawberry dipped in chocolate, fudge, molten chocolate cake, chocolate marquis and chocolate mouse.

THIS dessert is reason enough to stop what you are doing and head to XO Cafe…NOW….GO ON! It is a chocolate lover’s dream come true and someithing I have not been able to get out of my mind since dining there. Words will NEVER be able to describe the deliciousness of each bite of this amazing dessert. It’s something you just have to experience.

FAQS:

XO Cafe opened in 1997 and became XO Steakhouse in 2004 before switching to Cafe Noir in 2009 before returning to its original roots as XO Cafe.

XO Cafe is part of the Chow Fun Food Group which also includes: 10 Steak & Sushi, Luxe Burger Bar, Rick’s Roadhouse and Harry’s Bar & Burger.

Chef Simon Keating is a native of Devon on the southwest coast of England. He boasts more than 20 years of culinary experience.

XO Cafe was voted one of the top 10 BEST restaurants in RI by www.10best.com.

XO Cafe won Dessert of the Year by www.Golocalprov.com.

XO Cafe offers special deals throughout the week including: “Don’t Whine!” – Every Monday get 50% all wines by the bottle; Ladies Night! – Every Wednesday ladies receive a complimentary three course tasting menu; Bar Fling! – Every Friday enjoy the bar menu at 1/2 price from 5-7pm; Pajama Brunch! Wear pajamas and get a complimentary mimosa or bloody Mary during Sunday Brunch!

Gay & Lesbian Factor: This may be the most gay friendly restaurant in the entire state of Rhode Island. Jennifer and I witnessed numerous gay couples being openly affectionate the night we were there. We also couldn’t help but notice the large array of attractive men mingling at the bar. Of course I can’t say if these fine gentlemen were indeed “gay” – BUT – if I had to rely on my inner “gaydar”, I would say the chances are quite high! ;) It makes perfect sense. It is no surprise that the LGBT community, especially the many gay fella’s I know, enjoy the finer things in life and XO Cafe is one of those things. The food is delicious. The decor is delicious. The drinks are delicious. The music is delicious. The eye candy, is, well – delicious. I think you catch my drift? This would be the PERFECT spot to take your honey or to meet your soon-to-be honey. Such a fun, energetic, sexy vibe. The Chow Fun Restaurant Group was extremely welcoming to having Gay Travel Information review their chain of restaurants and Laura Riquinha, director of communications for the Chow Fun Food Group, was an absolute delight to work with. I told my partner Jennifer that we need to go on a “date” here and act as if it is our first date. The ambiance is seductive and after woo’ing her with ‘A Study In Chocolate’ for dessert, I am pretty sure I’d score some, a’hem, brownie points! A+!

I am head over heels in love with XO Cafe. I may have too much of an infinity. Just ask James. XO Cafe won me over from beginning to end. It had me at “order dessert first” and knocked my socks off with their mouth watering food, decor and music selection.

I may earn stalker status here. Just saying.

Desiree Sousa
Owner
Out & About Travel / Gay Travel Information

www.gaytravelpros.com
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