StreetXO London, Tio Pepe and Feria de Jerez
A last-minute invitation to preview the sherries on offer for the StreetXO Feria de Jerez sounded intriguing. I’m partial to a little sherry – and I’ve done enough sherry tastings and recipe development of my own with sherry now to understand a little about the complexity and unique flavours on offer. I didn’t anticipate quite such enthusiasm from my companion for the night, The Hedonist. But then, I hadn’t realised quite how special StreetXO, a Mayfair restaurant tucked away between Oxford Circus, Bond Street and Picadilly is. The Hedonist, who appears to spend as much of his free time as possible seeking out the sublime across Europe, explained…
Dabiz Muñoz the chef patron of StreetXO just happens to run two other restaurants, both in Madrid. There’s another StreetXO – a small plates type concept. And, there’s DiverXO, Madrid’s only three-star Michelin restaurant. Dabiz started his culinary journey learning the fundamentals of Asian cuisine with the head chefs at Hakkasan, Nahm and Nobu. A unique Spanish-Asian fusion cuisine that is the backbone of the XO brand resulted.
Where does sherry come in? Well, Dabiz has been working with Tio Pepe and the Gonzalez Byass to create the perfect menu for Feria de Jerez. There are two special ‘Liquid Cuisine Cocktails’, a selection of celebratory classics with a Jerez twist (Ole Alexander for example made with Apostoles) and a flight of Gonzalez Byass sherries paired with tapas.
We were invited along to the Mayfair restaurant and bar, where we started with one each of the liquid cuisine signature cocktails.
Tokyo – Jerez (£14) with Palo Cortado was a smoky long drink with something of a wow factor from the caramelised shrimp on a skewer which is used both to add a salty flavour to the cocktail and a sweet caramel note as you stir your drink. The smokiness comes from Lapsang Souchong tea, with shiso miso and yuzu to create the perfect Asian cocktail base. Appropriately The Hedonist got to suck on the salty shrimp head and enjoy that one.
Meanwhile, my Amontillado based ‘Scottish Man in Jerez’ was a shaken blend of Outland Scotch whisky and lime with hazelnut orgeat and an amontillado float. I loved this smooth, creamy but definitely not too sweet cocktail. We may have arrived at the Circus, but the acts so far were refined and polished.
Then, the flight of sherries.
Fino en Rama is Tio Pepe’s limited bottling of Tio Pepe Fino. It’s drawn from cask in spring and bottled without fining to create a slightly cloudy sherry with a complex nose, crisp and dry with an unusual texture. We were drinking last year’s Fino at this stage, paired with a tiny mouthful of oyster cooked on the robata and served with a gazpacho jalapeño just to make sure we were still awake. Nicknamed Irish Oyster on Holiday to Acapulco, I loved the presentation of this dish and, as with all things based on oysters, would have eaten a plateful.
Next, Gonzalez Byas Vina AB Amontillado served with three pieces of Hamachi Usezukuri, a type of sashimi carpaccio served with little mushrooms like tempura of purple potato.
Finally, Gonzalez Byas Solera 1847 Cream served with 2 creamy and light kimchi croquettas. One salmon sashimi trout egg and lapsang souchong. The other, an oyster mushroom topped with tomato relish. If you associate cream sherry with the Queen’s speech on Christmas Day and the ceremonial opening of a bottle of Harvey’s Bristol Cream, I beg you to make your way down to Street XO and try this Pedro Ximanez based mouthful of deliciousness.
It took very little to persuade us we’d like to continue – and we moved to the restaurant to meet head chef Lorenzo and sample some of the restaurant dishes (though actually, the tapas dishes are all available on the a la carte menu too).
We started with a dish of hot smoked hand dived Scottish Scallops, served with a creamy ponzu and coconut-kaffir lime reduction.
The delicate smokiness came from using vine roots in the robata. To accompany, the new release of Tio Pepe en Rama which had great minerality and was much drier and saltier than last year’s offering. A perfect pairing again.
Next up, perhaps the most visually stunning of the dishes. Octopus a la Gallega who spoke Mayan. Tender grilled octopus was served with an emulsion of tamarilli, papas arrugadas, a yuzu aioli and mole
This South American influence dish was nicely paired with Gonzales Byass Leonor Palo Cortado, a 12 year old deep and elegant sherry with notes of orange, toasted hazelnuts and almonds.
Next fillet of lemon sole in a Thai meunière with pink pepper and charcoal grilled baby corn. This delicate and fragrant dish was accompanied by an Apostoles 30 year old Palo Cortado sherry with smooth caramel and an intense nuttiness and caramel on the nose but still with a dry delicate finish. It is a rare sherry, a fino that has been aged oxidatively like an Oloroso to create a particular and complex dry wine.
We must have looked hungry when we arrived – I was definitely running out of steam by this stage but who could resist a green curry based on grilled avocado slow cooked beef cheek, brocolli and peas with lemongrass and kaffir lime, on the menu as ‘A Scottish Cow visits Bankok’ which was particularly appropriate giving the amount of food we’d enjoyed.
My peskytarian companion enjoyed the same dish without the beef cheek and we both sipped on Gonzales Byass Alfonso Oloroso, a nutty dry Oloroso with a salty tang.
Then ‘dessert cocktails’ to accompany the desserts. I have a sneaking suspicion by this stage that I wasn’t necessarily totally aware of what was on offer.
I do remember hijacking the delicious seven textures of chocolate – a wonderful mixture of black mole & Gianduja
mousse, with white chocolate ganache & spheres served with a chocolate ice-cream. The peskytarian had the guava cheesecake.. caramelized popcorn, lemon gel and sablé butter cookies.
Of the two cocktails, my favourite with the chocolate dessert was definitely the Ole Alexander, with brandy cream, apostoles, orange blossom and nutmeg while Quillo the Manhattan, brandy with oloroso, vermouth and orange bitters was also delicious and perfectly balanced.
The real question is if you do decide to go and try the Feria de Jerez menu (something of a snip at £28 per person including all the sherries and food) will you be tempted like us and end up feasting. I’d recommend you do, this is one of the best restaurants in London I’ve tried this year.
StreetXO in my view is a venue to be decadent, to dress up and have fun – a night on the town in the most informal and fun way possible and with some amazing food and drink.
15 Old Burlington Street