I was so excited for my first time to StreetXO.
I heard so much about it, the new restaurant by three-time-Michelin-star Spanish Chef David Muñoz! It’s been on my list ever since the opening last October when photos from blogger visits and restaurant critics began popping up all over my feeds.
It’s easy to see why it grabbed my attention, standing out from the crowd like a stripper in a nunnery. Not another sushi pic or beautifully marbled Kobe beef close-up. Not another cheesy burger dribbling out fat juice or egg yolk spilling out over avocado toast. Not the delicate composition you see by top British chefs such as Ramsey or Blumenthal.
Something else, something intriguing, original. Red sauce splashed across the plate like a mafia massacre of spilled blood and exposed bone. Crunchy looking pigs ears sticking out atop a dumpling. Cocktail concoctions served in human hearts and giant fishbowl cups. I begin to wonder if David was a surgeon in a past life?
I google David and find a lot of interesting facts.
In his Michelin-starred restaurant DiverXO there are no waiters only chefs, how interesting. A concept he carries through to StreetXO, where around 80% of the staff are chefs, I read. Before finding fame, David worked at top London restaurants such as Hakkasan and Nobu, explaining the Asian influence in his otherwise more Spanish and South American cooking. An experience he now seeks to give his own chefs.
I find it interesting to discover that DiverXO is actually a play on words. The X in Spanish pronounced as an S, to say diverso, meaning diverse. And similarly, the street-food-inspired StreetXO is supposed to say, Street Show, which in hindsight is actually what it is.
StreetXO or Street Show feels much more like a show than a restaurant sitting. David himself calls his cuisine the ‘Cirque du Soleil of Gastronomy’. Now that makes sense. Everything is a performance, delivering lights, action and drama onto your plate and inside your mouth.
It took me much longer to digest the experience than the food.
I recall my first impressions walking down the stairs into the basement restaurant. Seeing the chefs and staff wearing straight-jacket uniforms. A huge neon fish lighting up the dark room. An octoskull and something left behind by Uncle Fester. The large open-plan kitchen is the stage where the chefs perform against this backdrop of theatre and flames. A steady house beat warms us up to the Saturday night mood.
When I received my first cocktail, the Tom Kha Kai, I expected a twist on the Piña Colada, but instead received a strange, powdery white drink topped with flying fish roe.
Do I eat or drink this?
There are two tasting menus, we order the smaller one for £75 a head since it covered most of the menu items and all the highlights. Our friendly Spanish waiter (who I now realise might have been a chef herself) takes us through each dish, explaining what each is.
My only wish is that we had more time, as it felt like the dishes rolled out the kitchen at lightning speed. Time sped up as it took us longer than usual to understand what we were eating. We would have preferred a slower pace to appreciate it more. If this sounds strange, try it for yourself and you may see what I mean. There is so much going on on each plate, so many ingredients and unique concepts, like tasting twenty different cultures in one bite, it was not simple. In fact, that’s the best word I can think of to describe it.
What is StreetXO like? It is not simple!
I have a deep appreciation for food. If not I wouldn’t be writing food reviews and popping strange things into my mouth on a daily basis. Mmm yes, squid ink cappuccino, very nice, I say while forcing a black toothed smile (true story). Here I know David and I see eye to eye.
David is an experimental cook, unbound by the rules of classic cooking.
I imagine he is the kind of guy who, if you tell him that parmesan cheese absolutely does not go over seafood pasta (which is true for most Italians), he will cook up the best seafood pasta you’ve ever tasted, and what you’ll love most about it is how good the parmesan tasted over it.
It’s no secret that David is a rebel. You only have to look at his mohawk hair and piercings to see that the celebrity chef is not one to conform. He is not here to give you what you already know, or to cook you a dish you’ve already tried.
David’s drive is to push the boundaries and anyone who’s ever tried that before knows the score, haters gon hate. I’ve noticed in the reviews so far that there is a recurrent skepticism about StreetXO. While I can see where they are coming from, I feel they may be missing the point.
The point is originality, new creations, an experience. None of which you’ll get from the most perfectly cooked, parmesan-less seafood pasta.
I think again about the show analogy.
Because how many times do you go back to see the same show? I suspect not too many. But isn’t that still the case with most famed restaurants? Especially those with six months to a year waiting lists restricting the possibility of a second visit in the near future.
Still, I’d love to go back to StreetXO. I want to take my friends, my parents, my friends’ friends. I won’t be having the tasting menu again, but I’m already craving the Korean Lasagna and the Prawn Suquet, while my curiosity about the dishes I didn’t yet try (like the Paella XO and lamb shank!) gnaws away at me.
There’s also the more affordable £25 lunch set menu.
StreetXO is at 15 Old Burlington Street, London, W1S 2JR
+44 020 3096 7555