I have held off visiting XOXO since it opened a couple of months ago, simply because I don’t often order steak in restaurants.
Don’t get me wrong I love a good steak, have a rump, sirloin or ribeye once a week, but have often been left disappointed when dining out.
You need a dedicated, specialist steak restaurant - which is how XOXO bills itself.
And at risk of cutting a story short, they nailed it.
It is a smart looking place, they have made a good job of making it appealing from the outside - important as it is a bit hidden away - and I love the inside; lots of comfortable seating, exposed brickwork and mirrors.
Even the not exactly background music, which sounded like a Kiss FM playlist, went down a treat with my two girls.
It has just introduced a lunchtime menu (burgers from £6.45) to compete with the other outlets in that part of the city centre, but not on a Saturday.
There is plenty to go at - some appetising sounding starters, about a dozen gourmet burgers, some fish, chicken and, of course, steak.
There is no booze on the menu - and who doesn’t love a nice glass of red wine with their steak? But it mattered not as it was lunchttime and I was driving, so a diet coke it was.
The girls’ meals (£4.95) arrived first and I was a little disappointed. I expected something a little bit more “home made”rather than looking like it was straight out of a freezer bag. That said, the chunky chips were crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, the fish fingers and nuggets weren’t at all greasy and the mash was thick and creamy with a lovely hint of garlic. The salad garnish was merely making up the numbers.
My salad, however, was anything but - leafy with chunks of tomato, onion and cucumber, a decent dressing and a splash of balsamic; lovely stuff.
The slaw (my free side order) was fine - crisp and creamy without being sickly - and the peppercorn sauce was as hot as I would have liked.
The star - and rightly so - was the steak (£15.95); an eight-ounce rump, trimmed so there was no fat and marinated so there was a subtle barbecue sauce flavour. It was juicy and perfectly cooked on the griddle. Every mouthful was a joy - safe to say the most enjoyable steak I have eaten for some time.
The girls shared brownies and ice cream (£4.95), which the waitress happily brought out on two plates (a nice touch), and both gave it the thumbs up, particularly the sticky chocolate sauce.
For me stodge-heaven - a soft creamy vanilla cheesecake - served with ice cream, fresh strawberries and more of that chocolate sauce (£4.95).
The lack of alcohol means it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but the food and service gets my vote.
Brad Barnes dines at XOXO Grill House in King Street, Peterborough. www.xoxogrillhouse.com Tel 01733 561483
Brad’s rating: 8/10