I was apprehensive when I made the Xiomara reservations this weekend, but time and location restraints (plus a very frustrating Dakota phone experience) forced my hand. Mixed reviews, mostly on the negative side, have prevailed in these parts, but I put on a happy face for my friend the birthday boy and set out to make it a fab experience. Think. Happy. Thoughts.
Hot dog - it worked.
Place: Xiomara, Saturday, 12/3 - 9 PM
Myself + 4 guests
Ratings in brief:
Ambiance - B+
It's a lovely and warm space with a nice dark wood bar. Specatular? No. The lighting is awesome, decorations just so-so. But it's QUIET and SPACIOUS. Big plus. Big.
Service - A-
I informed the server of the birthday boy among us, and perhaps that was the deciding factor - he spoiled our table. Service was at times a bit slow, but he accomodated every last special request; gold stars abound.
Food (Taste) - B+
I was very, very surprised to find the food tasted quite delish.
Food (Presentation) - B+
Another pleasant discover - great eye candy too.
Wine/Drinks - B
Wine list is limited but still OK, and a full bar to accomdate all kinds of drink cravings. Good Mojitos too.
Value - B+
Some of the dishes on the menu seemed too pricey, but the options we all chose were fantastic - worth the price for sure.
Overall Experience - B+
We arrived on time and were seated immediately - the restaurant has a very homey, candlelit vibe and is split on two floors. The top mezzanine was hoppin', and our reserved table was the only free space on the main floor. Still, it was NOT loud at all - huge bonus, AND the tables were spaced a nice distance away from the other diners. Yay!
A very luscious bread basket landed instantly - spicy pumpernickel squares (and man did they have KICK), french bread slices, and these heavenly super-buttery garlic bites that disappeared in about 2.7 seconds. And promptly refilled, BTW. Served with a very yummy black bean dipping sauce.
We started with a round of cocktails and champagne - the standout was the Mojito, served in an uber-cool glass as well. Not 100% authentic but still volumes tastier than most in this city.
Most of us didn't want to over eat, but a couple of folks ordered the Crispy Goat Cheese Salad. This was declared by one Chow to be THE greatest salad ever - and it was GORGEOUS. Full of different lettuces, okra, bacon, peppers, and other treats, with a nice sized fried goat cheese dumpling on top.
I had the special of the eve - Paella. Reallllly good, and served in a lovely red dutch oven-type container. Since this is a fushion restaurant, the rice wasn't 100% traditional spanish-style, but instead was sticky and warm. Lots of peas, a strong taste of saffron, so-so chorizo, and SEAFOOD - fantastic baby lobster, clams, and mussels that just melted on contact. And scallops! Fresh, moist - all quite good. I could have used more kick/flavor in the broth, but that's a minor complaint - this rocked.
Other dishes I sampled:
Seared ahi tuna (I am so bored of this and therefore just felt it was "eh")
Grilled skirt steak with a white wine cream sauce + roasted poblano mashed potatoes - hot damn, another winner.
No desserts for us - cake (from the Phoenix Bakery) was waiting back at the homestead.
Final bill, including:
7 drinks + pelligrino
was $243, not including tip.
Everyone at the table was thrilled, including birthday boy. Xiomara isn't an experience destination, but it is a fantastic last-minute meal choice when you're looking for something warm, mellow, somewhat upscale, and tasty.
Thanks for reading!