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Just a week earlier I ran into Chef/Restaurateur Peter X. Kelly at the raucous kick-off party for Westchester Magazine's annual Food & Wine Festival. It was held at Fortina in Yonkers this year, and it was a rouser. Little did I know that my companion had made a reservation for my birthday dinner the following week at Peter's flagship X20 on the Yonkers waterfront.
It had been a beautiful big blue sky day when we arrived at the valet station adjacent to X20 and the area was buzzing with people chatting over cocktails at nearby al fresco tables. But we went right into the restaurant, took the elevator to the 2nd floor host station and announced for our 7:30 reservation. Within minutes we were walked into the lofty 130-seat dining room and shown to a fine window table facing south. We were awestruck with seeing the beautiful view of Manhattan in the distance. It was a lovely vantage point and we settled in. I thought back...it was just over a decade earlier that Peter Kelly brought his talents back to Yonkers, his original home town.
Things got off to a fine start with our opening orders of Grilled Portuguese Octopus with baby arugula accented with Thai BBQ spice, and classic Pate Grand Mere with Foie Gras, wild duck, pork, pistachios, marinated vegetables, cornichons and a wonderful grain mustard with slices of French baguette. To compliment our meal I ordered a wonderful Chardonnay from Washington State. It melded beautifully with the appetizers. Every element in the dishes made a tasty statement.
For mains we stayed with the French bistro theme that Chef Kelly's kitchen does so well: Veal Sweetbreads with Roasted Figs, Parisian potatoes, hen of the woods mushrooms, with a Madeira crème fraiche on a bed of sautéed leaf spinach. I treat myself to sweetbreads from time to time and this was sensational. My partner went for the Sea Scallops on a bed of corn and vegetables. The scallops were big and sublime. She savored every bite. We enjoyed our side of Crispy Cauliflower with nuoc cham butter, too.
Ah, yes, dessert: we had to go with the house original Warm Valrhona Chocolate Cake, Grand Marnier Ice Cream with orange confit. It oozed its creamy goodness with every bite.
The sun soon fell over the Palisades across the Hudson. As it did we saw the big city down below light up and sparkle. It had been a remarkable meal.
Caveat: Our servers were fine but were pressed as the dining room got busy. My only real disappointment, though, was with our wine service. It came up short. After retrieving our Chardonnay for a tasting, they took it back to their center serving station, saying: 'we will take care of it for you'. That would have been fine, except there were long frustrating waits between refills. Next time I will request the bottle be set up at our tableside.
Nice to be back at X20 Xaviars on the Hudson, along with all the memories...www.xaviars.com
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