Address: Calle Padre Damián 23, 28036 Madrid, Spain
Phone Number: +34 915 70 07 66
Guide Michelin: 3 stars
What I paid: 300 € (tasting menu per person, including water and wine)
Visited: September 22, 2016
Chef and owner David Muñoz opened DiverXO in 2007 and when I was in Madrid 2011, I was not aware of the restaurant (it had one star then, received in the 2010 Guide). After I was back from Madrid I watched Anthony Bourdain’s No reservations episode about Madrid, where Bourdain visited DiverXO (in 2010) and that was the first time I heard about the restaurant. DiverXO got its second star for the 2012 Guide, and finally the ultimate third one in the 2014 Spain Michelin Guide.
After catering college, Munoz trained at some Spanish restaurants (e.g. Balzac and Viridiana), before gaining Asian influences in London at Nobu and Hakkasan.
DiverXO is located in the NH Collection Eurobuilding Hotel (in a foremost business area of Madrid). The premises are very special and futuristic and with a touch of circus feeling. Pigs are a common theme…
Current month, plus the next six consecutive (i.e. a maximum of seven months), is the “window of opportunity” for booking a table. It is very tough to get a reservation and when I booked our table, in early March, I was not able to get any table until the end of September. However, even with that forward-looking booking, I could not schedule a table for either Friday or Saturday…
The start time to choose (for the dinner) when booking, is also a little bit enigmatic, though the first time is 21:00, the second “slot” is 21:08, the third 21:16… This may be related to the fact that all guests are first shown the kitchen and consequently, not everyone could be there at the same time. That being said, 60 (minutes in an hour) is not evenly divided by 8…
After the visit to the kitchen we were led to our table, which was a round table surrounded with red curtains (from roof to floor). It almost felt like you were located in a small little private room. Also; it was quite dark and a candle light was placed on the table…
There are only two set menus to choose from. Those differs only in the quantity of food and number of dishes served. The “smaller” one (which is by no means small, is called something like “traditional”) and costs 185€ and the bigger one 225€.
The person presenting the menus advised that, if you have not eaten at DiverXO before, you should choose the “smaller” menu. Most people I have read about are consequently also opting for that and are also very happy with that alternative. I however, really wanted to go “all in” and sample as much as possible of David Munoz’s different dishes and flavor combinations. Therefore, I did not follow the advice…
The wine mark ups are very moderate and there are no wine pairings.
The dishes are called Canvas together with a number (e.g. Canvas 1) but if you opt for the larger menu, the sequence of the Canvas are not in the order outlined on the provided menu (which is the “traditional” one). Instead you get handwritten notes on the menu, explaining the order. Also, as can be seen in the picture of the menu above, the additional dishes (about five extra dishes) are not always seen in the menu (e.g. dish number 4 is not present).
We had the following dishes (in the order outlined below):
Canvas 1. Viva Mexico Cabrones!!! Green Mole with fennel and green tomato, avocado, steamed octopus and bone marrow… Crunchy sandwich and bull tail with black mole. Taco filled with huitlacoche, pumping flower and palo cortado.
After this first serving was finished, the curtains were removed, and you got a completely new impression of the restaurant.
Canvas 7. Steamed white asparagus “vichyssoise” with toasted buffalo’s butter, red Japanese rice, yuzu and homemade siracha… suckling pig!!
Canvas 10. Vintage time!!! “Ají-pepitoria” chicken with steamed Canary potato with shitaki and soufflé chicken… Peru, La Mancha, Canary Islands and Madrid.
Canvas 2. “Déjà vu” of the best Viridiana… Spicy bitter Silvester strawberries gazpacho and smoked chili chipotle. Vanilla Motril’s shrimps and liquid croquette!!
Canvas 6. Grilled semi-baked red tuna with sisho and lime pesto “fettuccini”. Pollita’s broken eggs, botargo, lily bulb and bacon!!!
Canvas 4. “Peruanocatalan” stew… “Suquet sudado” with rock red mullet and crayfish and Korean “gochujang” romescu sauce and churros!!
- Crunchy red mullet sandwich
- Papaya salad, hibiscus and grilled crayfish’s head.
Canvas 9. Typical Chinese from Madrizzzzz….
- WontonXO soup… Guinea fowl dumpling with shitake, ginseng soup and tear peas.
- PekingXO duck… Suckling pig ear, blackberries hoisin, caviar from Riofrio and steamed crêpe.
- Lemon chickenXO… Cantonese soya paste, bergamot and 5 Chinese spices.
- Char siu bao-XO… Chinese bang dipped in sheep milk with toast corn.
Canvas 3. Within pintxo cocotxas trilogy…
- Stewed cocotxa in green sauce with clams, sour apple, jalapeno chilies and fresh wasabi.
- Crunchy niguiri and grilled cocotxa.
- Creamy paella gunkan with cocotxas and white prawns with ali-oli.
Canvas 5. Roasted skate with world peppers… black garlic butter, home-made kimchi, XO sauce and violet potato gnocchi’s!!
Canvas 8. Ooooooh wait… Italy or India? Milan or Bombay?
Kobe Milanese ossobucco with tamarind sauce and chargrilled tomato.
Saffron ravioli with tandoori yogurt and Swede puree with buffalo butter and black truffle.
The tail of the Pink Panther… Rhubarb, pink pepper, sheep milk and caramel milk.
Canvas 12. Does frozen cotton candy exist???
Violets, coconut milk and lemongrass, green apple and “frozen cotton candy”!!
Canvas 13. Croissant ice-cream with chocolate, black sesame and papaya sweet sour ketchup!!
Serving #17 (Canvas 11 – part 2):
Guava creamy pie, white chocolate, calamansi and beetroot… Thai basil, lychees and chocolate cookies powder.
Not many chefs go the whole hog as David Muñoz does! However, I am not referring to some “molecular gastronomy” (in lack of a better word, though I am not that keen of using that vague term) that has been practiced by quite a lot of Spanish chefs (especially in the past). No, the cooking practiced here is really creative, inventive, bold and with tons of flavors and spices.
When people ask which restaurant I have enjoyed the most, I always answer that I cannot pick only one. Some of my absolute favorites are Le Calandre, Frantzén and Victor’s Gourmet Restaurant Schloss Berg. However, after my dinner this evening, I can without any hesitation, say that DiverXO is the very best restaurant I have visited.
I was adoring almost every single bite served here and that is extremely rare, especially with this many servings. Very special (in the most positive sense), personal and individual, but also diversified cooking, that really works in regards to my taste buds!
DiverXO is not just a solid 3-star (Guide Michelin) restaurant but also, in my opinion, world class in every single aspect! Highly recommended!