What’s the first thing that springs to mind when you think of fine dining at a Mayfair restaurant? Plush surroundings, formal dining and stiff upper-lipped staff? Well, not so at StreetXO London. Think street food in shady parts of Bangkok, night markets in Hong Kong or China Town Food Street in Singapore and you’d be closer to the StreetXO experience. Rules of fine dining do not apply and anything goes; chopsticks, cutlery or fingers. It’s street life for sure. You’d be forgiven for thinking that all this style comes at the price of substance. You’d be wrong. This is the London home of chef David Muñoz; he who cut his teeth at Hakkasan, Nahm and Nobu. The chef with the only restaurant in Madrid to be awarded three Michelin stars for DiverXO. Welcome to the world of David Muñoz!
I walked down a golden staircase to the dark heart of StreetXO. It was lunch time but already evening in the world of XO. Neon lights flash above the open kitchen and the fluidity of the kitchen counter appeared to carry me away on a wave and I walked past my reserved table only to walk back.
Just as if you were on a busy side street in Bangkok, of an evening, there’s much to see. Stimulation is everywhere; mirrors on the wall, blood red formica tables, leather, noise. Giant glass baubles act as lampshades and I can see what looks suspiciously like a colourful ice cream vending machine at the end of the kitchen. It reminds me of something from an animé movie. I can’t quite figure out what. All in all it works for me. I hadn’t realised what I’d signed up for but I was now knee-deep in it and I liked it. Five minutes in and I’d already forgotten the world outside.
I begin with a colossal cocktail. Liquid Madrizzzzz DiverXO is made of
violet shrub, lime, ginger and jasmine perfume served in a cocktail glass three times the size of a regular one. I stirred it and the aroma of jasmine was intoxicating in an ethereal sense. Pink and purple petals floated on the lavender hued drink as if it was magic. Lime and ginger was in perfect balance with the herbal violet shrub and I understood why it arrived in a large glass; you’d be willing to drink a great deal of it.
SteamedXO club sandwich was the first to arrive. Suckling pig, ricotta, runny fried quail egg and chilli mayonnaise on a soft bao; it was wondrous. Galician octopus who spoke Indian was octopus served on roasted tomatoes, butter masala and squid ink crackers. It was an intensely colourful, aromatic dish. Three perfectly steamed soft buns arrived just in time for me to soak up the last of the butter masala with. A green asparagus salad of green olive emulsion, oranges and spicy chlorophyll acidulated oil was nothing short of spectacular; a raw, tangy tower of green delight. The standout dish however, was the Spanish socarrat paella with roasted chicken wings and Japanese white sesame dressing. Socarrat (derived from the word socarrar meaning to singe) is an essential part of paella making. Served with StreetXO’s chicken wings and sesame dressing it was a gastronomic bulls eye.
As luck was on my side I was able to try not one but two desserts on the menu. Guava cheesecake, caramelised popcorn, lemon gel and sablé butter cookies arrived in a box as any true gift should. Spicy strawberry with cream, white chocolate and strawberry sponge was also presented in a box complete with a lid. Both dishes were staggeringly beautiful and caused anarchy on the palate. Rebellious deserts that left their mark on my heart; they were exceptional in taste and texture whilst also rather generous in quantity.
All of these tasting dishes are on StreetXO’s express lunch menu which is just £25 per person and available Tuesday to Friday. That’s not a typo. It really does say £25 per person. Drinks and desserts are extra of course. We have to pinch ourselves to remember that this is Mayfair fine dining. Given the creativity of the dishes, the dining experience and the heritage of the chef this is an incredible menu and one that London truly deserves.
StreetXO is located at: 5 Old Burlington Street, W1S 3AJ