What can you tell us about Xier?
It's a restaurant from Carlo Scotto, the ex-Head Chef of Babbo and who's also worked with Angela Hartnett at Murano (he sees her as his mentor). Xier sees him take on his own restaurant in Marylebone. Well, two restaurants, to be precise.
It's a restaurant of two halves?
Indeed - the ground floor is XR which is more of a casual dining restaurant, while upstairs - where we ate - heads more into fine dining territory with a 10-course set menu the only option.
Where is it?
It's on Thayer Street in Mayfair (it took over the site of the old Pizza Express). You'll be led upstairs to a room that seats around 25-30 people, so it's a much more intimate setting than downstairs. That said, the sound from the busy downstairs room does filter upstairs too, so it never feels too quiet. That helps Xier to avoid the sombre effect that a fine dining restaurant can sometimes have - it creates a slightly livelier atmosphere.
Where's good for a drink beforehand?
There are quite a few good pubs in the area, but there a caveat in that they can get rather busy in the early evening (the Coachmakers Arms is a good bet if it's not rammed). If you're just after a quiet pre-dinner drink, then we actually found the counter at the Ivy Cafe just around the corner to be very handy indeed. And nearby wine bar 28:50's also a good choice if you're looking for a special glass of wine.
And the only choice at Xier is to have the 10-course menu?
Yes and no. You have a choice of the standard or the vegetarian tasting menu (we'll get to the latter in a bit) - both at £90. On that menu, for the two main courses, you have the choice of a couple of dishes. Otherwise, it's a case of strapping yourself in for the full event.
The idea of a tasting menu has come under some fire of late - and indeed it's something that we ourselves are a little wary of. However, the menu at Xier showcased a parade of highly inventive dishes, delivered at a gentle pace and we never felt overwhelmed.
Following the canape which you see above, here's what we had on the night (beware spoilers, of course, but some of these dishes will change with the seasons)...
View this post on Instagram
Europe Meets Asia - beurre noisette gnocchi and warm kombu tea. This was the final starter in our ten course tasting menu @xier.london this week. We’d just been to see #avengersendgame earlier that day and despite both the movie and meal being epic hours-long events, they both felt like they’d gone in a flash. So enjoyable. #invite #londonrestaurants #eathotdinners #newlondonrestaurant #londonfood #marylebone #eatlondon #tastingmenu #kombu #gnocchi
What about vegetarians?
As mentioned earlier, there is an entirely separate vegetarian tasting menu to choose from. Some dishes stay the same (the kombu tea, the stracciatella and the cheese and dessert courses) but there are new dishes too. These include "Arancino, Kohlrabi Jam, Pickled Kohlrabi, Spinach" and "Bianchetto Truffle Risotto And Sumac". Essentially, if you're vegetarian, you get the full-on tasting menu experience too.
And how about drinks?
We went with the pairing option, which comes to £175 all-in. If you can stretch to it, we'd definitely recommend it - mainly because it's a mix of wines and cocktails throughout.
For example, the rose cured salmon comes with a Monzanita cocktail - Absolut Elyx vodka, absinth, apple liqueur and passion fruit. There's a very orange wine for one course (Jakot, Radikon 2011), a Pear Manhattan and more wines served throughout. It's a great way of breaking up a wine pairing, keeping you engaged with all the different drinks you're being brought. It worked wonders, we thought. And the cocktails aren't too alcoholic - so there's no worry of getting up from the table after 10 drinks and falling flat on your face. Thankfully.
Such a long tasting menu may not be everyone's cup of tea (it takes at least three hours) but, like Grace Dent, we think that Xier's epic menu really showcases what's possible with such an event. Really inventive cooking, food that delights instead of overwhelming and all paired with service that seems both perfectly timed without being too overwrought. It really adds something to the London dining scene and we think it's well worth checking out.
Now can we have some more fizzy grapes, please?
More about Xier
Where is it? 13-14 Thayer Street, London W1U 3JR
How much: £90 for the tasting menu, £175 with matched drinks
Subscribe to hear the latest from Hot Dinners