David Muñoz is back in town. The same David Muñoz with three Michelin stars to his name – the same David Muñoz, with experience at Nahm, Hakkasan and Nobu. He’s a brilliant, creative Spanish chef with an eye for experimental, innovative gastronomy and well known for his original dishes; they’re global, creative and bold. DiverXO, his restaurant which he is most well known for, earned three Michelin stars within three years of opening; the third arriving when he was just 34 years old! He became a bit of an overnight sensation, a foodie icon and DiverXO has become a restaurant people from all over the world visit Madrid for, to experience his unusual flavour combinations and pretty plates.
Last week, StreetXO, his new London street food haunt opened and I was lucky enough to be taken for dinner there, and it was fabulous - a blend of fine dining experimental food meets punk in Mayfair.
We started with cocktails at the bar including "pineapples roasted on coals", the classic negroni, and I was surprised to see they even have a cocktail served in a replica heart (the look is more anatomical than romantic!) This fits with the theme well; it's theatrical with chefs and staff in straitjackets, plates borderline halloween-themed, and the Evening Standard described it accurately as somewhat like a "wacky foodie theme park".
We took a seat on the high stools around the chefs cooking and the sommelier offered us "something special" - an alternative sparkling bubbly called Koshu. It was delicious, elegant, light, and very drinkable, perfect for whilst we waited for the food.
We toasted to a great night as the first dishes arrived!
To start we had braised rabbit dumplings with Chinese 5 spice; smooth pan fried dumplings with delicious crunchy "kikos" - crunchy corn nuts which added a great crunch to contrast with the soft carrot textures.
Sitting on the high stools rather than main tables was brilliant as we watched the chefs carefully put together all of the dishes. The next one had me intrigued as they made it with such precision and it truly looked like a piece of art. The flavour really packed a punch and I managed to polish off the entire portion! This was the Chilli king crab. It contained crunchy soft shell crab, chipotle sauce, paprika, transluscent delicate noodles made of sherry, butter-champagne emulsion and then was scattered with fragrant, crispy, moreish curry leaves.
Another favourite were the steamed bao buns "club sandwich" - these were just so delicious, filled with creamy ricotta, chilli cream and an oozy fried quails egg - so good that we could have ordered a plate of these! The bao buns were the perfect amount of squidgy but still put together enough to eat by hand as they recommend.
Next was another winner - the Pekinese dumplings. I had been reluctant to order these at first but the chef urged me on and I'm so thankful he did. They were delectable! Crispy pigs ear, strawberry hoi sin, soft pickles and a little alioli to top it off. These are probably the best dumplings I've ever had - not at all greasy but packed with flavour - the crispy exterior works so well and the slight sweetness of the sauce was amazing.
Another must-try dish at StreetXO is the hot smoked scallop - the creamy citrus ponzu was perfectly zing and as I love the flavour of Kaffir lime leaves this was one of my favourites. The scallop was perfectly cooked (I can't stand overcooked scallops!) and fragrant with coconut - a must have dish for any shellfish fan!
Sitting by the chef's truly made our experience so wonderful, I love to see the food come together and in between courses we spoke to so many of the chefs. They were kind, bubbly and love to talk about food; naturally, I was in my element! The passion comes across so strongly and the warmth they shared made all the difference. We discussed flavour combinations and got their recommendations on the dishes throughout. Service is so important to shaping your experience and truly the kitchen guys made it for me!
The next innovative dish was called "Almost a Carbonara XO Style" so I really wasn't sure what to expect. The dish was light and so tasty - consisting of wild boar, udon noodles, extra smokey bacon, fried egg and olive. Another dish which wasn't at all what we expected but just so divine!
The La Pedroche croquettes were hot tuna croquettes, smoked on our table with hot coal, then topped with tuna, XO sauce and lapsang souchong smokey tea. The kind you'd happily have a pile of on the beach. Delicious but heavier than they look!
Next up was the only dish we found disappointing but that I had liked the sound of most on the menu - Grilled squid with green papaya, sour hibiscus dressing and a peanut and lime pesto. Unfortunately, whilst it looked great I found the squid to taste burned and personally would skip this course.
We requested dessert but given that this was just three days into opening they didn't have a dessert menu yet. Chef Mike (who served us all evening) came to our rescue (sitting with the chefs has it's perks!). He offered us a taster dessert that StreetXO have been working on called the Pink Panther. Served in a Willy Wonka style pink cup was smooth goats cheese mousse, rhubarb, cookies and popping candy. Whilst not one of the best desserts I've had it had the lightness and sweetness I love in a pudding and it was a great theatrical ending to a wonderful meal
I just loved our dinner and it truly was made by the food and the chefs who served us. Despite being brand new, StreetXO is pretty much nearly there - given how new it is there were a few hiccups (red wine served so cold that even the sommelier felt bad, one squid dish we didn't like and no real desserts menu) but it was one of the most memorable dining experiences I've had recently - there were so many excellent dishes that this was all forgiven. There were so many innovative dishes and delicious flavours that I wouldn't hesitate for a moment to go back! The vibe is buzzy, the decor unusual and the chefs (despite wearing straitjackets) were incredibly warm, knowledgeable and generous.
My request to any of you booking to try StreetXO is to please make sure you sit up on the stools around the kitchen where the chefs cook. This will completely make your night and from a few conversations I've had with others who have been, it sounds like we had a better experience doing so (better service and trial desserts and so forth!) It truly made our entire experience so much better. The food was fantastic, the atmosphere buzzing and the chefs were seriously wonderful. I'm surely not the only one who loves watching the chefs at work as we were sitting by a chef from another high end restaurant, who seemed to be just as in love with the kitchen action as we did!
All in all a wonderful evening and highly recommended for a special meal! Where are your favourite spots in London at the moment?
StreetXO can be found at:
15 Old Burlington St, Mayfair, London W1S