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  • Visit Date: 28th April 2023
  • Restaurant: DiverXO
  • Address: NH Eurobuilding, C. del Padre Damián, 23, 28036 Madrid, Spain

I have been wanting to come to DiverXO for such a long time, and to finally be here and experience it at last, was just amazing. It lived up to every expectation I had, and more.  

The dining room is so beautiful, almost ethereal with it’s sheer curtains separating the tables, providing privacy and intimacy. There are flying pigs everywhere, which is a reminder of Dabiz’s dream to create such a restaurant, and his Father telling him that it would happen when pigs can fly, well let the pigs fly high because he has achieved that to a level that inspires everyone globally, and has seen him constantly win best chef in the world year in, year out. 

The attention to detail here is something I have not experienced anywhere else. There is so much thought and heart behind everything. For each dish you are given a card which explains all the ingredients, which is wonderful, and each card you add into your sleeve with has Dabiz’ mohawk, and this is finished at the end with the wine pairing menu which then slots in and fills the gaps of his mohawk in with the red of the card. Red and black are the DIverXO colours, and I chose to wear such too, in honour of this visit. 

There are no snacks to start which is actually a nice change, so straight into a meat a course, which is a bold move which worked and was a refreshing change of usual dynamics. 

Cold pigeon, with sherry wine delicately sprayed on top too, with a sauce made from all parts of the pigeon which had so much depth of flavour. This was simply delicious. 

Spinach prepared in a wok, on coals, which took on a light smokiness, a vegetable broth with raviolis filled with the same vegetables from the broth, and an ice cream made from white asparagus with flours, which was fresh and the contrast in temperatures worked well.

The team here are so passionate, and the sommelier Miguel even more so, which all greatly added to the experience.  

Nigiri- I LOVED THIS DISH… so very much, and what made it extra special was the beautiful hand painted menu showing the whole process of the dish, just wonderful and once again, unlike anything I have seen before. This touch beyond special. So many elements to this dish. Different sushi rice, one of which was toasted and really crunchy which I loved, two steamed gnocchi’s, one of which had black garlic, then the trout which was 45 day aged and melted in your mouth like butter, the belly with truffle, and flavours of pine crept through. A soup of the crayfish head. This was a really clever, simple but incredible dish.

Frosty Salad with an insane dressing that tasted like a liquid salad, the salad had a base of tomatoes and edamame, each ingredient bringing to your palate with so much flavour, a clean fresh granita, lots of different leaves, and then a garnish of turbot, beautifully cooked, with crispy skin and the emulsion was beautiful as it was made from the turbot bones itself. Again the contrast of textures and temperatures was clever and worked.

All the ‘Wednesday Adams’ vibes next, with a ‘thing-like’ hand, and a spoon with a pork dumpling, and jabugo broth, yellow pepper pil-pil… this was to take in one, rather large open mouthed mouthful and it was sublime, all these incredible flavours married together perfectly.

Taken next onto a journey of South East Asia… wow this was insane. Taipirinha served in glasses akin to large test tubes, flavours of white Thai rum, lime, lychee, mint and basil, this nicely cleansed my palate and I felt prepared for the next Asian flavours ahead. 

Green Curry that was so good, I could have had more, subtle jalapeno pepper, matcha green tea in the sauce and gentle cooked peas, made this a light and delicate dish. 

Laksa Singapore with lots of  flavour, but the main feature was frog as the ingredient used. A visit from Dabiz to the table at this point was so good.

Marmitako next, while others had their crab dishes, I enjoyed tuna marrow with baby octopus and a beautiful light reduction. Very tasty. 

Baby eel to follow which was al-dente and glazed with eel jus, and deglazed with sherry, Kabracho fish, Seville bitter orange, ‘Caldillo de perro’ reduction, buffalo butter emulsion and canarian potato. Really exceptional and masses of flavour. 

Pig ear with honey- WOW.. I really loved this, the leaf was placed on my hand and a syringe of Melipona honey drizzled over, this was so delicious, the flavours of chilli, honey, black chanterelle complemented the fatty pig ear perfectly. 

Crispy Iberian Suckling Pig next which I equally loved, a little sandwich of goodness, pecorino cheese, cured goose yolk, siracha, suckling pig, peppercorns, and a chanterelle pesto sauce… wow. So much going on in one incredible bite. 

Duck next, this was probably my least favourite dish. It took me back to game season at Noma. I think I can safely say I’m not the biggest fan of brains and tongue, of any animal. It was all very executed,  I enjoyed the foie and flavours of green tomato and serrano chilli as a gazpacho which balanced the richness of the rest. Flavours of sesame and pumpkin came through, and a very nice Bergamot dressing. 

Lobster, and not just any lobster, because here at DiverXO it comes in three parts.. and all the influence of Goa. A regal silver tall elephant with legs as long as mine and placed by my chair, and on it a pani-puri, a little ball of goodness which when I bit inside, had a delicious tomato and lobster sauce. On the plate the tail of the lobster with tandoor flavours and a buffalo milk skin, with flowers, butter masala of tomatoes and buffalo butter, a tomatillo chutney and sushi rice. And finally, a bowl with a lobster head, which was a sublime lobster vindaloo. How Dabiz thinks of all of these things I really don’t know, he is truly beyond talented. Everything worked together in perfect harmony.

A giant beef horn came out next, adorned with cured blonde beef sirloin with koji and penja pepper, roasted fat, chilli and raw perretxicos mushrooms. I hooved up all this delicious melt in your mouth goodness, and then drank from the horn itself which was filled with a spicy sour Galician ox bouillon, with more of the same mushrooms, and a penja pepper infusion. Crammed with flavour, I really enjoy this. 

Rescoldo stew, and another beautiful hand drawing showing the stages of the dish. A rooster was brought to the table to demonstrate the part of the bird being used being the big beautiful legs. This was a hugely comforting dish, with a caramelised and rich sauce, faba beans, epazote and calamondin, a little corn taco accompanied with squash blossoms, and if I wasn’t so very full by this stage, I would have licked the bowl clean. It was very good but as I was so full, I feel I didn’t appreciate it as much as I could have.

Onto dessert, first a rice pudding, with brown butter, white truffle, beetroot, a sphere of cacao which had popping candy, I found this all very sweet and sickly, so had a few bites and was done.

The second and final dessert was flavours of bubble-gum, quite nostalgic flavours of those bubble-gum balls you get when little at the airport. These of course were a whole lot tastier which blackcurrant, black garlic, coconut ganache, liquorice, and a coconut ash with yuzu ice cream. I preferred this dessert, but still a bit too sweet for my palate.

Once the mochis arrives to finish, I could not even taste one as I knew it would push me past my limit, they looked beautiful and the guests I was dining with enjoyed them, four different ones, strawberry, sake and smoked tea, and another cookies dunked in milk with croissant and coffee, a cheesecake with parmesan, stilton and cabernet sauvignon reduction, and a violet one made with violets and blackberries, lemon, sesame and purple mangosteen. 

The wine pairing here was expectational, and I always have my signature style of a semi-circle of glasses around me at the end, as I need to pace myself, otherwise as I have learnt the hard way years ago, that I end up skipping dishes to shoot, or my photos and videos get a little blurry. It also means I can go back to different glasses when I choose. I am extra glad for my rule on this visit as I ended up with two semi circles.. which was a first… 18 glasses… oooft. Special shout out to Miguel and his knowledge, passion, and energy, quite possibly the best sommelier I have ever experienced. 

The whole team were incredible, flawless service, not pretentious in any way, just all heart, and perfect.

Also, I don’t usually talk about toilets, in fact I have only twice in the eight years I have been writing restaurant reviews, one at Atera in New York, and second at Frantzén in Sweden, so for a third time, these toilets were epic, adorned with butterflies, and they were all mirrored.. just very cool, and very different. 

What an experience. I loved everything. What I also loved was although I was full. I wasn’t full and sleepy, I was a happy full. Everything was so well portioned, well balanced, paying homage to beautiful ingredients from Spain, and looked after with love, skill and technique. My favourite dishes were by far the sushi one, as well as the Asian, and the pig ear with honey, and crispy pork sandwich. 

I will most certainly make the journey to visit again, and I am very excited to see the new DiverXO location as it sounds insane in the middle of the woods. A brief meet with Dabiz at the end and his humility, passion, and drive are clear. What he has created here is all heart, and a world of flying pigs just confirms that if you can dream it, you can do it.

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