A friend and I were driving around the city in circles the other day, disappointed that there was really no place to sit, talk, relax without too chatter and music.

At the end of this particular day we resorted to sitting on the seawalls eating hot dogs and beef kebabs, but what we really wanted was the kind of cultured experience you would find in a French sidewalk café; at least that’s what we had in mind.

Subsequently, I remembered an invite I had to Xie Xie, a restaurant at Barr and Alexander streets in Kitty. And a few days later I decided I was ready for the experience.

The restaurant’s Mandarin name translates to ‘Thank You’ in English. It may possibly have been named for an Asian fusion sandwich shop in Hell’s Kitchen, New York famous for its 1,000-year-old ice cream, but which is now closed.

On the day I visited—a Sunday—it offered a buffet-style brunch.

20110212cultureboxFor me, when doing a review, it is never just about what is being served, but what is on the menu; whether food options cater for a variety of preferences: vegetarians, vegans, lactose intolerance, gluten intolerance, food allergies and such like. A great menu is one that offers options, especially for picky eaters and undecided stomachs such as mine.

Safe to say that Xie Xie offered options that were acceptable; simple but varying which is not at all bad.

When it comes to food, you want to feel comfortable when eating out and Xie Xie offers that comfort. How?

Well like most restaurants, you do not see the kitchen but you just know. It is always about how the staff present themselves.

While at the bar waiting to eat, I struck up a conversation and played detective while talking to ‘Employee of the Month’ Jonathan Persaud. He seemed friendly enough but quiet; not much of a chatterbox. I later found out that Jonathan had been pulling double and triple shifts, committing himself to his job and doing so outstandingly. One could not tell because he sure did not look stressed. And though a bit reserved, when it came to serving he did more than expected.

The waitress, I did not get her name, was very sweet and laughed at my quirkiness as I fought for a Coca Cola, and called a hunger strike unless one was presented to me. Unfortunately they were out and the smell of the food soon made me forget my protests.

I had the pork, which was absolutely delicious. I also had a salad and was disappointed that there was no salad dressing, even when I asked for some.

There was tea and coffee on the buffet, but I’m not a lover of hot drinks and there was no juice with the buffet, but juice was available for purchase. I opted for a soda and since there was no Coke, settled for a Sprite.

Presentation of the food was okay; no wow factor. The restaurant was comforting, soft music and mutters of quiet speech. It felt different; like that place you just want to go and relax.

When it comes to the cleanliness and environment Xie Xie did not come up short.

Some items of the menu were affordable, others – woahhhh!).

The ambiance is worth it though; the small interior, well decorated cosy atmosphere somehow opens the appetite and is inviting enough to make the restaurant your go to place.

The breakfast buffet I referenced is served on Sundays from 8 to 12 and costs $2,500. (Jairo Rodrigues)

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