August 20, 2009

Too Xai Xai (hush hush...)

THIS place has been on my radar for YEARS! It opened up when I was still working at the Montel show, and it wasn't far from our office, but darn if I just never made it there. We were so much more likely to hit the after-work bar one block from us. It was dark and crowded and all-too-often smelled ungodly, but the wings were amazing and the bartenders knew Xai Xai got pushed to the back of the line..until this week!

We were bidding adieu to someone in the office and it just happened to be on my birthday! : ) Isn't multi-tasking fun??

The place is much smaller than I expected inside. I was imagining a louder, more boisterous scene, but it's very low-key and understated. I highly recommend it for small groups.

The food was good, but not amazing. We ordered the small cheese platter, which had a farmer's cheese, blue cheese, goat cheese (very mild), and an Italian cheese, the name of which wasn't exactly clear to me. It came with mixed nuts and an apricot chutney, which tasted very strongly of rosemary to me (what is it with all the rosemary lately??) We also ordered the 'melted cheese bowl,' which had a pungent cheese melted inside the bowl, and buttery, ridged pita triangles for dipping. The cheese tasted MUCH better than it smelled! It was just enough food to keep up with the wine, but not so much that you walked away feeling stuffed (which is good, because I was saving room for my birthday dinner!)

But truly, you go to Xai Xai for the wine, and it was well worth the schlep across Times Square! We started out with a gorgeous-looking rosé (its name escapes me but it was the first offering under rosés, for about 28 dollars). It was very fruity, with a heavy raspberry flavor, at least to my tastes buds. The gal who was leaving our office is more of a white drinker, so for the next bottle (don't worry, there were several of us there) I asked the server about the pinot-chardonnay blend. He let me try a sample, and I found it quite unique and delicious, so we ordered a bottle. THAT time I remembered to take a photo of the bottle (see the Haute Cabriere label below). I thought this was a fantastic glass of wine--and I'm definitely more of a red drinker than white. I'll have to keep an eye out for this blend--a fabulous find!

Xai Xai Wine Bar
369 W 51st St
New York, NY 10018
(212) 541-9241

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