By Danny, Luann, Courtney & Peter
Jason Kitton’s XO Restaurant, Wine & Chocolate Lounge is coming into its own.
Now approaching the two-and-a-half year mark, Kitton’s “leap year baby” – the restaurant opened Feb. 29, 2012 after a brief sojourn on Clinton Street – continues to distinguish itself as a destination for fine, inventive dining, cocktails and fondue. The major difference now is that Kitton is doing double duty as a chef-owner.
A brief recap: XO opened up at the former home of Osteria Toscana on Wall Street after being displaced by fire. Kitton has taken full advantage of the split-level space, which boasts a cozy, inviting dining room downstairs and a hot cocktail lounge with frequent live performances upstairs.
Our server, Kyle – who makes one of the better gin and tonics in Huntington – led us through our most recent culinary adventure, and the hits came early and often.
Open-face Surf & Turf Tacos ($12) marry citrusy marinated skirt steak and juicy, plump shrimp for a lip-smacking starter. Or, opt for total comfort food with smoky, ooey-gooey good Bacon Stuffed Mozzarella Sticks ($9). Tuna Tartare ($14), piled atop homemade guacamole, garnished with a mild wasabi aioli, and served with thick, crispy wonton chips for scooping, was another hit at our table – even with a tartare skeptic in our party.
Entrees included a wonderful Chicken Romano ($24), a perfect summer dish. With excellent garlic mashed potatoes as a base (Kitton won over the same tartare skeptic, also a mashed-potato hater, with these), a breaded chicken breast is crispy on the outside and juicy and tender inside. Topped with fresh mozzarella, diced tomato and baby mixed greens, the whole thing is finished with a beurre blanc sauce.
Delicate and buttery Lobster Pot Pie ($26), a blend of potatoes, corn, sweet peas and large lobster chunks, is surprisingly light and topped with an air-light, crisp puff pastry. Pan-Seared Scallops ($30), served atop a truffled lobster, red pepper and corn salad, is another delight. Keep an eye out for these, and more, on a forthcoming menu or as a nightly special.
But a night at XO is not complete without dessert, and by far, the signature dessert is the array of fondue choices. Paired with all the dipping goodies, we dove into a new blend – a decadent peanut butter and Oreo cookie pot that is as good you might expect. If you’re not in a fondue mindset (or don’t have a party to split it all), crème brulee and juicy chocolate-covered strawberries are excellent in their own right.
Keep an eye out for performances upstairs on Friday and Saturday nights, as well as drink specials from 5-7 p.m. Tuesday-Friday. Take advantage of a $24.95 prix-fixe, available Tuesday-Saturday. On Sunday, the three-course deal gets even better, when the price drops to $19.95.
Needless to say, there’s plenty to fall in love with.
XO Restaurant, Wine & Chocolate Lounge
69 Wall St., Huntington village
Atmosphere: Jazzy dining; cozy lounging
Cuisine: New American
Hours: Closed Monday; Tuesday-Thursday 5-10 p.m.; Friday & Saturday: 5 p.m.-1 a.m.; Sunday: 4-9 p.m.