In the northern part of Spain’s capital city, Madrid, you’ll find one of the country’s most extraordinary and surprising culinary experiences: DiverXO restaurant, by chef David Muñoz.
Welcome to DiverXO, the world of David Muñoz
DiverXO is Madrid’s only three-Michelin-starred restaurant, and is home to chef David Muñoz. Originally operating from tiny premises, DiverXO quickly became an unexpected gourmet sensation, offering a style of cuisine that was rare in Madrid at the time. In 2014, the restaurant moved to the NH Collection Eurobuilding, from which it continues to serve customers eager to sample the exciting and intriguing dining experience.
Entering the restaurant, your eyes may not know where to settle first. Perhaps the first and most unusual thing to jump out at are the pigs which features everywhere in the interior, a reference to the restaurant’s ‘Flying Pigs’ tasting menu. The space combines private intimate corners, with round, white marble tables throughout the middle of the room. Diaphanous white curtains can be drawn around the tables acting as room dividers to create a cosy atmosphere. In place of traditional dining chairs are luxurious armchairs, with angel wings embroidered on the back. Even the toilets, which are pink and luxurious, have been carefully considered.
Dining at DiverXO is a theatrical experience, full of interaction and performance. Service is excellent, but not stiff or traditional, with staff dressed in simple uniforms and Nike shoes.
The vision of David Muñoz
Chef David Muñoz was born in Madrid, and since coming to the attention of the media around 2007, he has built a reputation as a pioneering and creative adventurer. Still only in his thirties, he continually surprises with his unique approach to cooking, which he describes as ‘brutal’. His team of chefs and staff at DiverXO may appear whilst you’re eating, to add something new and exciting to your dish.
David Muñoz is known as the enfant terrible of the Spanish cooking scene, for his cutting-edge, almost punk style completed with mohawk and piercings. The food at DiverXO is as unique as the chef, who guides guests on a hedonistic and creative gastronomic journey.
His passion for cooking developed when, as a boy, David Muñoz’s parents would take him to Abraham Garcia’s Madrid restaurant, Viridiana. Abraham Garcia’s style of cookery reflects his interest in travel, literature and art, and David became fascinated by his approach. This childhood interest led him to attend catering college, where he began his academic training. Alongside his studies, David Muñoz gained experience working in Spain, at Balzac and Viridiana, and abroad, where he absorbed the global influences that are now reflected in his own style. Several years spent living in London saw him working in the city’s best restaurants, such as Nobu. On his return to Madrid, David Muñoz decided to open his own restaurant, DiverXO. Success was swift, and the style and intention of his team was clear from the outset. The food they produced reflected a combination of influences ranging from Eastern cooking through to Nordic fusion, with Spanish tradition combining with Asian flavors and presentation. Dishes were surprising, original, fun, and globally inspired.
Since opening, DiverXO has become a dining institution, famed for dishes such as pork skin with black sesame brioche, or suckling pig with steamed carrot dim sum and bull tail noodle soup.
The tasting menu
DiverXO offers a tasting menu called ‘The Flying Pigs’, with a wine pairing available. This menu takes diners on an exciting journey around the world over a sequence of around 25 courses.
The tasting menu continually surprises, with unique flavour combinations, textures, and unexpected elements such as ‘salad from the back of the fridge’ or ‘leftover milk’. The presentation and colours are particularly striking, from blue food to dishes that are prepared on and eaten from the guest’s hand.
Each incredible dish excites all the senses. The initial visual spectacle and irresistible aroma are accompanied by the staff’s poetic description of the dish. Some dishes are eaten with the fingers, and others use stunning cutlery, stimulating the sense of touch. The sensory experience culminates with the incredible explosion of flavours when the dish is tasted.
Some dishes are served in a set sequence, combining to make up a course of several small bites. On our visit to DiverXO, one of our favourite creations was the ‘Trip to the beaches of Goa, in India’. Six unique creations were brought to the table in smooth sequence, with typical Indian spicing and recipes using the best ingredients from Spain and abroad. The sequence is meticulously executed, giving a taste of India in the heart of Madrid.
First came the Pani Puri, filled with New Delhi ‘Salmorejo’ and ‘Joselito’s Coppa’. This was followed by roasted caviar, in a ‘tandoori’ oven with vindaloo curry and Greek yoghurt. Next, Daal Makhani, with whey made of sheep’s milk and chlorophyll. The innovative butter ‘chicken’ masala used frog legs, with pickled mint, poppadum of lentils and mango chutney. A steamed cheese ‘naan’ featured Portobello mushrooms, corn and acidulated parmesan cheese. To complete the journey to Goa was the Mumbai flower with pink pepper, served in a silver elephant, which ranks as one of the most stunning types of tableware we have ever seen.
A real highlight is the five days rested pixin, which is an anglerfish found on the Asturian coast in Northern Spain. The pixin is toasted in the wok with red mullet suquet (a Catalan fish stew) ‘al achiote’, and its fried head. The complex texture and flavour of the fish are so refined, it results in a dish that is very hard to forget.
Our experience also included baby eels softly sautéed in the wok and served with toasted butter ‘Nam Prik Pao’ and dark beer aguachile.
Our favourite of the desserts echoed the pink hues that are present in the restaurant’s décor. This dish gives flavours of guava, Ruby chocolate, Hajikami, reduced sheep’s milk and chipotle ice cream, pink pepper, tree tomatoes and ginger biscuit mocha. Softness, sweetness and stylishness are combined in three different preparations.
Even restaurants hailed as avant-garde and groundbreaking can become mainstream after some time, but that certainly doesn’t apply to David Muñoz’s DiverXO. After almost 15 years, he is still one of the most innovative, experimental and accomplished chefs in the world.
A visit to DiverXO requires you to forget all of the standard fine dining rules and open your mind to an entirely new experience. Be prepared for an unusual, unforgettable and, most of all, flavourful gastronomic journey.
Restaurant DiverXO, NH Eurobuilding, Calle de Padre Damián 23, Chamartín, Madrid, 28036, Spain | +34 915 70 07 66 | www.diverxo.com | firstname.lastname@example.org | facebook.com/dabizdiverxo | instagram.com/dabizdiverxo
Text: Sarah De Hondt
Photography: Adriaan Van Looy