Last week was Westchester County's Restaurant Week, during which many local restaurants were featuring special prix fixe menus at a discount. A friend gathered a large party, and made dinner reservations at Xavier's X20 a high-end restaurant located in the upper level of the Yonkers pier. The proprietor of X20 is Yonkers-born chef Peter X. Kelly, who has gained a measure of fame by winning on the Food Network's Iron Chef.
The setting of the restaurant is dramatic- a renovated Victorian-era pier that juts into the Hudson River less than ten miles north of midtown Manhattan. The views are dramatic, with the George Washington Bridge providing a brilliant foreground to the Manhattan skyline- even the Yonkers water treatment plant, about a quarter of a mile south of the pier, provides a dramatic spectacle of twin methane flares, which the river reflects in glorious fashion. The decor of the restaurant's interior is best described as "restrained elegance", the huge windows which afford views of the surroundings provide all the excitement.
The special Restaurant Week three course prix fixe meal cost a mere $28. The dinner was accompanied by warm homemade breads, a choice of torpedo-shaped dinner rolls or warm, rich blue cheese biscuits (these were positively addictive, and given out with the generosity of a soft-hearted grandmother). I started with a warm wild-mushroom custard, garnished with chives and crabmeat- the earthy flavored mushrooms giving a lusty "oomp" to the luscious custard, which was tempered by the briny notes provided by the morsels of crabmeat. I followed the custard with a perfectly cooked half duck, accompanied by crisp snow pea pods and buttery Spätzle. The richness of the duckmeat was nicely cut by a sweet-tart cranberry sauce. Dessert (after the richness of the meal, it was almost an afterthought) for me was a molten chocolate cake, a well-executed, not-too-sweet confection. The featured wines were products of Hudson Valley vineyards.
Service was impeccable- the waitstaff was attentive yet unobtrusive, quick to refill water glasses or generously provide the house-made bread (have I mentioned that the biscuits were particularly addictive?). During the meal, Peter X. Kelly circulated throughout the dining room, greeting his customers warmly. A gracious host, he indulged patrons who wished to be photographed with him, and carried himself with the easy, self-assured air of a man who has achieved a remarkable degree of success through hard work, talent, and a geniunely hospitable disposition. He also comes across as a man with a great sense of humor- a vintner, his "wine cellar" bears the name "The Silenus Room".
All told, the dining experience at Xavier's X20 was second-to-none. The restaurant, with it's breathtaking views, exquisite food, and romantic atmosphere, is a perfect venue for a meal celebrating a special occasion. Valet parking is available, and the restaurant is within easy walking distance of the Yonkers station on the Metro-North Hudson Line.