A little over a month ago, my husband and I attended the annual wine tasting and auction for the Palace Theatre. It was a fabulous evening of (You guessed it!) wine tasting that ended with an auction. Of course, there were other pieces to this evening, such as some beautiful art and delicious food samples from local restaurants. We participated in one of the raffles, which netted us a gift certificate to XO on Elm. This restaurant has been on our need-to-try list for a while, and the certificate was the nudge we needed to go.
On a recent Friday night we decided to redeem our certificate. We arrived about 7:30 to a restaurant that was full. We were offered a seat at the bar while we waited for a table to be prepared. The bartender was friendly and attentive, making sure that we had all of the menus we needed. However, we didn’t spend much time there, as a table was ready within minutes.
Seated at our table, our drinks were delivered, and water was provided. Our waiter introduced himself, and we began pondering all of our dining options. The entrée section was overwhelming, there were so many amazing choices. To give ourselves more time and to sample more dishes, we decided to start with an appetizer. Eliminating numerous other dishes, we finally chose the Cognac Wild Mushrooms & Goat Cheese Strudel. This appetizer was delightful. Filled with delicately cooked mushrooms and warm goat cheese, the flaky puff pastry provided a perfect texture contrast. Topped with a honey-thyme drizzle and balsamic glaze, there also was an enjoyable contrast of savory and sweet.
While enjoying our appetizer, we were able to decide on our entrée choices. I chose the Seared Chicken & Figs Madeira. The chicken and figs, as announced by the title, were the highlight of the dish. Complimented by caramelized onions, sundried tomatoes, and artichokes, the main ingredients were well seasoned and perfectly cooked. All of the flavors mingled well and produced a satisfying meal. The cheddar and polenta cake that was served with the dish was disappointing, as it lacked flavor. Maybe the intention was for the cake to absorb the flavors of the sauce, but I preferred to use the chicken and figs to absorb all of the madeira.
My husband chose Lobster Mac & Cheese as his main dish. The lobster was plentiful in this dish and was well cooked. However, the mac & cheese was of average quality. Although listed as a smoky three cheese sauce, the sauce was lacking flavor. A stronger cheese could have been added to make the dish more interesting. Looking at other diners’ dishes while we ate, the Lamb Shank may have been a better choice.
The service that we received throughout the meal was attentive and pleasant. The waitstaff made sure that our dining needs were met without being overbearing. With so many interesting dishes on the menu and delightful service, I am sure we will return.