Hospitality is about the guests — not me,” says chef-owner Peter Kelly. “We listen to what they want.” When first creating the waterfront Yonkers restaurant (which now consists of a formal dining room and the more casual Dylan Lounge, with a separate sushi-and-sliders menu), Kelly even made sure that there were no “bad” tables. He outfitted spots in the center of the glass-walled space with more luxurious upholstery and banquettes, so diners without window seats of the Hudson and Palisades would still feel special.
This emphasis on customer comfort translates to the front-of-the-house system. “Eight to ten different wait-staff members will work your table. Everyone is there to ensure you never want for anything,” Kelly says. That’s because they’ve been trained extensively (via daily meetings and staff tastings) and have years of experience, thanks to very little turnover. Ask them what to order — perhaps the cowboy rib-eye steak (the most requested dish), braised locally sourced rabbit, crispy Montauk skate with pancetta and brown butter, grilled New Jersey quail with fresh rosemary and garlic and Madeira glaze, or house-made sweets, such as the red-velvet cake or passion-fruit sabayon tart with soft-torched meringue. When your plate arrives, notice the well-thought-out sides and garnishes, such as the white cheddar and corn grits with the pork.
“When I think about a dish and how to present it, I don’t just think of the center of the plate,” adds Kelly. “I like to look at textures, colors, and flavors to balance each other. So, when you choose an item, it might be because of the sides it’s served with. When all of those things come together, they create a special dish.”
Excerpt from the NOVEMBER 2007 review: “The food at X2O is almost uniformly stunning…. Side of duck confit spaetzle…was truly, mind-blowingly delicious — the spaetzle firm and flavorful, the confit soulful, the whole perfectly cooked and seasoned. I seriously considered pulling an ‘Oliver!’ and asking for more…”