The maxim goes that too much of anything isn’t good for anyone, but the team behind Xier, the hottest new addition to Marylebone’s growing restaurant scene, would beg to differ. In what would seem to be a reactionary antidote to the modern taste for moderation, head chef Carlo Scotto has devised a seriously elaborate menu, ready to take diners on a culinary rollercoaster ride of modern European cuisine.
Found on Thayer Street, the restaurant sits prettily between the bustle of Oxford Circus and quiet luxury of St. Christopher’s Place. Split into two distinct spaces, the ground floor houses a 62-seat, “accessible” casual dining restaurant called XR, with Xier situated on the first floor, where it offers an “ambitious” £90 ten course-tasting menu.
Last week, we skipped lunch and headed westwards, ready to buckle in for a tasting menu that requires serious stamina.
Upon your arrival to experience the tasting menu at Xier, you’ll be escorted upstairs, where a heavy curtain is theatrically pulled open to reveal the extraordinarily chic interior. It feels like you’re entering a clothing store you absolutely know you can’t afford to be in — all shades of expensive whites and washed-out greys, with an unobtrusive but effective soundtrack. It even smells incredible.
Given the intimate nature of the space — that seats just 38 guests at a time — the designers behind Xier’s interiors have created a remarkable sense of privacy at every table. And this, alongside the recommended four hours of dining time, might make Xier the ultimate date night venue — a place to talk at length in a room which seems to exist in an otherworldly vacuum.
Diners at Xier can opt either for the standalone 10-course tasting menu at £90, or for the wine and cocktail pairing option, which will set you back a cool £175. The menu sets a seriously high bar from the offset, with a small bowl of soft, sweet stracciatella cheese topped with wild strawberry, calamondin, and organic honey — a combination only a true gastronomic genius could have known would work to such delicious effect.
Three starters follow, each pretty spectacular in their own way, and particular commendation has to go to the pitch-perfect rose-cured salmon served with foie gras, gariguette and bramley apple. The red prawn crudo with raspberry, red caviar and yuzu is another triumph, and looks as beautiful as it tastes.
Following this extravagant start, the big-hitting dishes continue to tumble out at an alarming quantity, but somehow there always seems to be just enough room left to sample them all.
From the black cod in caramel miso, to the beef cheek served with a blueberry salsify and nettle pureé, to the Swedish cheese served with fizzy grapes (yes, really) — the menu at Xier isn’t so much a tasting experience as a three-hour long piece of immersive theatre.
And, like any great performance or well-told story, Scotto saves his show-stopping finale for a few moments after you think there can be no more surprises. The cryptically titled ‘Sweet Tooth’ section of your menu can actually be translated as no fewer than five desserts. Included in the collection is an outrageously beautiful sculpted chocolate mousse with sugar-spun wisps, a just-sharp-enough rhubarb tart served with white chocolate, and a Grand Marnier rhum baba.
Anyone who’s told you that London’s swollen restaurant scene didn’t have space for a modern haute cuisine newcomer has just been happily proven wrong.
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