A clever Asian-inspired fine dining experience.
MENU HIGHLIGHTS Set menu – but fried chicken rendang and daytime dessert
SERVICE Coordinated and friendly
WOULD I GO BACK? I will be recommending it to everyone
I can’t remember the last time I had an $80 set menu that was as good as this. XO only has a set menu, but it really is fantastic value.
There was not a single dish that disappointed. Every single one was delicious, different, clever and impressive.
The teaser is a mini papadum with chat masala and a piped mint yoghurt. It’s sweet potato with a curry kick – an extremely unusual way to start a meal. I was quite surprised a restaurant called ‘XO’ started off Indian.
Another Indian dish transitions us elsewhere in Asia. Steamed dumplings are filled with pumpkin and ricotta, surrounded by a spicy tom yum sauce.
We certainly appreciated the fresh start with more salad than whipped tofu – (finally) XO sauce, heirloom tomatoes and pickled fennel. The tofu was creamy and texturally matched the tomato like it was stracciatella.
The playfulness of the dish titled sexy squid took an unexpected turn to Thailand. With kaeng kari and salted egg yolk, what was said to be a yellow curry sauce was – to our minds – a spectacular satay. It was very cabbage heavy but it made us feel healthy.
One of the most spectacular dishes of the night was the kung fu chow – crispy noodles that somehow remained crispy in a broth called ‘marble sauce’. Generous segments of spanner crab were not the hero flavour but nonetheless made for a standout seafood main.
The main, and one of the most delicious meals I have had in a while, was the fried chicken rendang. It was crispy and packed full of coconut, lemongrass and curry leaves. I could eat this over and over again. Any richness was offset by a moreish lotus soup, which was a slightly velvety, viscous, slightly sweet and salty vegetable broth.
Just when we thought we had been blown away, we were bowled over by the golden gaytime dessert. It was deconstructed in a meaningful way with an expert salted caramel mousse, vanilla ice cream, Ovaltine shard of meringue, little pipings of dulche de leech and crunchy cocoa pops.
By this time, we’d realised how the names of the dishes tied in to a nostalgically Australian-Asian menu.
Not only was each dish intelligently compiled and deliciously executed, but each one followed the other so well and was truly inventive.
I could not rate XO more highly.
Visit date: May 2021