XO 1

29 Belsize Lane , London, NW3 5AS

  • XO pan asian restaurant north west london
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  • XO April 2016 WEB 3
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SquareMeal Review of XO

This suburban outpost of E&O and other Will Ricker outlets may not have the sheer glamour of its siblings, but it does bring a touch of pizzazz and “trendy Asian fusion” to NW3. Turn up early for pre-dinner cocktails in the slinky bar, where the likes of Emerald Yazuka (Bombay Sapphire gin and wasabi shaken with muddled cucumber and apple juice) pave the way for more oriental riffs in the mirrored dining room. All the Ricker favourites are turned out to a high standard (think chilli-crusted tofu, Korean BBQ lamb and the fail-safe black cod with miso), but there’s plenty more to pique the interest – perhaps peppered tuna with miso aïoli, beef panang or crispy whole sea bass with ban kao. The cost of all the sharing plates adds up, but good-value set deals keep bills in check. Next door, XO To Go sells ready meals to take home.

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6.3

Food & Drink: 7.3

Service: 6.1

Atmosphere: 7.0

Value: 6.4

Food & Drink: 5.0

Service: 4.0

Atmosphere: 4.0

Value: 4.0

Lynn W. platinum reviewer 02 March 2017

This is local to us and we've been here several times. It's popular for cocktails in the bar, families in the restaurant at earlier times, and a good location to meet friends later. The menu is quite small for a pan-Asian restaurant but there is enough choice with dim sum, maki rolls, phad Thai and curries, and there are a few absolute favourites - the duck, watermelon and cashew salad, black cod with sweet miso, whole roast sea bass, and brown rice. We've always found the service to be prompt and the food delicious, and look forward to going there many more times.

Food & Drink: 3.0

Service: 3.0

Atmosphere: 4.0

Value: 4.0

WSN silver reviewer 10 November 2011

XO has been an established neighbourhood haunt in Belsize village for a while now, and as I wanted to go somewhere nearby with my visiting cousin, I decided on this Tuesday night to take advantage of the half price offer. Not much has changed since my last visit except that on a weekday XO is much more pleasant and uncrowded both in the bar as well as the restaurant area. We chose different starters, main courses and desserts so that we could basically share everything en mass and have more choice as each course came. And so we enjoyed the sea bass dim sum and tofu leaf wrap starter, as well as the blackened salmon and duck curry mains, though we thought the salmon was on the verge of being a touch overcooked and the duck curry lacked an edge of elegance somehow. For drinks this evening we were on staple diet cokes which came in the first incarnation in slim glasses with very space occupying ice cubes, that it took merely 2 gulps and the glass would be empty. On our further request however they addressed this and brought further diet cokes with much fewer ice cubes occupying the glasses. The decor is contemporary and comfortable and one is either sat at tables or cubicle like tables for four or six as required. The waiters are polite and unintrusive and the music soft, allowing for a good evening of much needed discussion and banter, given so much had gone by since we last met. All in all an enjoyable evening in the nearby surrounds of Belsize Park, and especially worthwhile using the half price offer.

Food & Drink: 2.0

Service: 1.0

Atmosphere: 2.0

Value: 1.0

Kathy D. 20 June 2011

A family outing to celebrate Father's Day last night, 19 June 2011. We were five adults with a 7.30pm booking. We ordered drinks – a delicious rose flavoured martini for me and beers for the others, while we looked at the menus. Only four tables were occupied and the a la carte menu was not on the table – we had to ask for it. Common sense should have told me that they clearly didn't have the turn-over to provide, freshly cooked, the extensive a la carte range of dishes. I should have stuck to the all-inclusive menu, as my family did, but I didn't fancy any of the options. So I ended up being served the worst duck curry I have ever tasted. I like duck curry and often enjoy the Busaba Eathai version which, despite not always containing as much meat at you'd like, is always freshly cooked, totally delicious, and frankly a real treat. I also regularly cook curries, using all fresh ingredients, so I know a load of old rubbish when I'm served it. Very few small scrawny scraps of leathery old meat – way worse than the sort of left-overs you feed the family pet from the turkey a few days after Christmas! These had clearly been added, at a late stage, to an already prepared highly spiced curry sauce, so the flavour of it hadn't penetrated the meat, whose ‘old’ taste could not be disguised. It was tarted up with three kumquats and some large pieces of soggy diced carrot and a couple of other slimy vegetables. It really did taste disgusting, and what was most alarming was my husband's reaction to it – “Horrible, tastes really weird”, and this from a man known as the human hoover in our house because he will eat anything, and insists on finishing off any old food he can lay hands on! Not wanting to spoil the outing, I ate a few mouthfuls of the jasmine rice I'd also ordered, and sipped our overpriced South African white wine. My family enjoyed their meals, especially the minced beef starter with peanuts and lettuce leaves, and the white chocolate and cranberry cheesecake dessert. But I'm getting ahead of myself – because when the dour-faced waiter came to clear our main course dishes, I told him my uneaten curry was awful. Instead of being apologetic or conciliatory, he said he'd asked if everything was ok, so I should have told him and he would have given me something else. I pointed out that I was the last person served at our table and had had just a mouthful of rice when he asked how our food was. Also that I didn't want anything else – just a freshly cooked version of the £12.95 curry I'd ordered. He repeated himself, so I did the same. This blatant and incredible lack of customer service added insult to injury. My son said he’d noticed on previous visits the waiter’s brusque manner. My son paid the bill, in full, when I was in the loo. If I’d been paying for that meal, I would have insisted on their deducting the cost of my curry. Anyway, I asked to speak to the manageress on our way out. I told her that, as a courtesy, I wanted her to know I’d be writing an online review (my first ever by the way – have never before had a dining experience so unpleasant I wanted to share it). I said the inedible curry was bad enough but her waiter’s rude manner was unacceptable. She asked if she could do anything to sort things. Too late! She was well aware of my complaint at the time as she subsequently got involved herself in serving our desserts. I said I wouldn’t be eating there again, that she shouldn’t include dishes on her a la carte menu if she couldn’t deliver them, and she should get some staff training underway. What I forgot to mention to her were the tiny black flies swooping over our heads all evening – never a good sign in a restaurant I think.

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 4.0

Atmosphere: 4.0

Value: 5.0

mamma niamh silver reviewer 13 October 2010

The lunch time men at XO is exceptionally good value. £11 for two courses I went with my sister last Friday There were half a dozen tables taken by ladies who lunch and within an hour we had ordered, eaten and paid so perfect for a working lunch. The tuna tartare is beautifully presented in a frozen bowl and palm leaf. My sisters dumplings were warm and tasted of the forest with a dark pungent mushroom filling that was light and comforting at the same time. The mains of pad thai – a great example of the Thai restaurant favourite, but the highlight for me was the duck, watermelon and cashew nut salad. It was a deliciously textured and full flavoured dish, that I will be trying again. Next time I wont bother with starters I'll go straight for the mains and try out the puds. I will be going back and I suggest you do to (for lunch at least)

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 4.0

Atmosphere: 3.0

Value: 3.0

Food fiend platinum reviewer 31 March 2010

I usually frequent E&O in Ladbroke Grove but decided to pop over here. Food is excellent – i recommend passing on starters and having the beef tahoon – simply delicious accompanied by egg fried rice and veggies. Pad thai is also massive, not out of this world, but huge and tasty. The non alc drinks selection is also good – obviously a good barman works here. Puddings – the banoffee pie is to die for – bigger than at E&O. The menu is the same word for word but the only main difference is this place was half empty on a Tuesday night (and no doubt each weekday) however E&O would normally be packed, with people being forced to leave within the 2 hour time frame! I say this because i was denied a chocolate pudding at 8.45pm there because ‘it would take 18min’ and this would take me past the 9pm cut-off… My friend also said that the other Ricker place, Great Eastern Dining Rooms, was similarly packed out during the week – perhaps this was due to the location here, somewhere in Belsize Park (not near the station!) Id say if you are looking just to have a good meal, not be rushed, and good service, then this is the place to go. However if you want the whole buzzy, rushed feeling – and some do!, then E&O is better for you. It definitely has the right atmosphere and good for star spotting but not sure the rushed service makes it worth it every time.

Food & Drink: 2.0

Service: 0.0

Atmosphere: 2.0

Value: 1.0

james m. 26 October 2009

Our experience at XO was truly disappointing. The service and especially the manager's manners were very poor, intermittent and rushed, borderline rude: They were pushy from the moment we sat down, forcing us to order within 5 minutes and taking our plates away as soon as we dropped the forks. It felt like their priority was to close the restaurant early – on sunday at 22.00!- instead of letting customers have a decent evening with their overpriced food. Well, I hope they really enjoyed the extra hour out that Sunday— we will not return.

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 4.0

Atmosphere: 4.0

Value: 3.0

HP gold reviewer 06 September 2009

This was our first visit to a Ricker restaurant and the food was exactly how I was hoping it would be; well-presented, of a high quality and a real treat for the tastebuds. The restaurant is stylish (lots of dark wood and funky lighting), separated into two areas by a sleek bar. As it was quiet we opted to sit in the front by the bar, with a handful of other diners. The set lunch menu (£15 for starter, main, side, dessert and a drink) appeared to be popular and judging by the size of the portions, incredibly good vaule. However, as we were only looking for a light bite, we decided to order a la carte. The dim sum was lovely and the chilli salt squid tender and moreish. I chose the sushi and sashimi platter to follow and was treated to some of the freshest tuna and salmon I have had in a long time, the kind that melts in the mouth. I'm not a huge fan of ginger but it was also very fresh; sweet and clean without being too overpowering. The home-made pineapple sorbet was a great finish to a very nice meal. The wine list is extensive, the cocktails well-made and the service was friendly and attentive. Although the a la carte prices are a little steep, I would certainly come back to try the lunch deal.

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Room for 22 people
Capacity: 22

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