Food Review: StreetXO
Can something be utter lunacy and — somehow — still make perfect sense?
It's something we ask ourselves roughly every 8 seconds at StreetXO London, the Mayfair restaurant from chef David Muñoz.
A lot of things about this place make it sound more experimental than enjoyable. Big, dark and brash, the basement restaurant is reached via a flight of golden stairs. The decor is like wandering through a David Lynchian dreamscape, splashes of neon and leather everywhere, all shadowy corners apart from incandescence coming from the open kitchen.
Prices are high. The food's high-concept. Menu descriptions are liberally scattered with exclamation marks - jasmine perfume!!!!, chilli mayonnaise!!! And the chefs wear strap-backed, straitjacket-esque whites, in a kitchen that's as much a stage as it is a food prep area.
It's all delivered with so much jaunty gleefulness, that we fall for it hook, line and swagger.
There's nothing stiff-necked about StreetXO. Several dishes force you to ditch the cutlery or don't come with any: the Steamed Club Sandwich — perfectly soft bao, folded across suckling pig, ricotta and an upside-down fried quails' egg, leaking its yolk into the beautiful, messy handful. Or the Pekinese dim sum, scattered with strawberry hoisin sauce and served with crunchy, deep-fried pigs' ears.
But it's more than just smoke, mirrors and jazz hands — though there's plenty of those, too. The menu doesn't sacrifice pleasure for shock factor: everything's rich, decadent and packs enormous, surprising punches of flavour. Our stand-outs are that steamed club sandwich, and the Korean lasagne — aged beef with shitake, Gochujang tomato sauce and white wine emulsion: hot, sour, rich and earthy in every mouthful.
And if the decor's like a trip through David Lynch's subconscious, the cocktails are what happens when Jackie Collins joins the party. Everything's OTT, nothing's pared-back. Cocktails are small art installations, the front of the menu branded 'SURREAL EXPERIENCE' and the inside of the menu comprehensively making good on it. The Liquid Madrizzzzzz's DiverXO is a mix of violet, lime, ginger and jasmine in a wineglass with a bowl the size of a human head, taking two hands to lift it. And the Tom Kha Kai comes as a porcelain coconut filled with kaffir lime, coconut, chilli, coriander, ice and a generous, lurid orange helping of flying fish roe.
Never change, StreetXO.
StreetXO London, 5 Old Burlington Street, W1S 3AJ.
Last Updated 25 September 2017