Talk about a fruitful team up! The folks behind Seasonal Berries – a year-round campaign funded by British Summer Fruits and representing 98% of British berry growers – organised a spring fling lunch at edgy upscale Mayfair restaurant StreetXO to demonstrate the vibrant versatility of the much adored but seldom tampered with strawberry.
And I enjoyed every juicy second of this juicy and unique experience.
Strawberries for the occasion were Spanish, which in recent years have started to be recognised for improved quality and sweetness. April is the height of the Spanish strawberry season. Soon after they’re cleared from the supermarket shelves, though, it’ll be time for British strawberries.
Appropriately, the venue was Spanish too. StreetXO is the months old London outpost of renegade chef , Madrid’s only three Michelin star chef. Muñoz is known for his brashly flavoured fusion cuisine and a disregard for gastronomic conformity.
StreetXO’s bar and dining looks somebody spliced scenes from The Rocky Horror Picture Show with Blade Runner and an early days Vivian Westwood photo shoot. Punk rock Frankenstein food fest? Hell yeah.
For sure, the setting was eye candy for my lowbrow leanings – but also a glaring suggestion this place might disappoint with too much style over substance flair. A few sips – and bites – into my welcome cocktail dispelled my cranky concern.
My Tokyo-Jerez (£13) was served a with the head of a prawn to suck before the first swig and the rest of the crustacean on a swizzle stick to mix in the rich concoction of lapsing oolong, soda, shisho, miso, yuzu and Palo Cortado. It wowed – and really tasted great.
No strawberries yet! But plenty were on the way.
Dishes for the event were pulled from the restaurant’s regular menu and tweaked to showcase strawberries. One course I absolutely loved was the Peking-style dumplings with crispy pig’s ear, strawberry hoison, aioli and pickles. The dumplings were presented on wax paper with a generous drizzle of the hoison to be eaten by hand. Flavours were bursting from all over – nicely balanced though and distinct. Same could be said for the multiple textures with each mouthful of this indulgent treat.
Other dishes – such as cold shabu-shabu of strawberry #gazpacho with sweet and sour tomato confit, young coconut and black truffle and grilled squid with strawberries, sour and spicy hibiscus dressing, peanuts, fine herbs, lime pesto and a shot of Thai Rebujito – yielded similar wow-factor flavour and an emphasis on texture usually not on offer at fine dining establishments in Europe.
As the lunch was bespoke and I was an invited guest of Seasonal Berries, I didn’t have a chance to take a gander at the menu for prices. But reading around online I’ve gathered din-din at StreetXO can cost around £75 per person or significantly more if you splash out for a few drinks or bottles of wine. Expensive for sure (as its Old Burlington Street address would connote) but given the inventive approach and fine attention going into preparation I’m inclined to give the place a value-for-money seal of approval. I’d certainly love to eat (and drink) there again.
If I had the motive and money to splurge on a night out in London, StreetXO would be my first consideration.
StreetXO is located at 15 Old Burlington Street, W1S 2JR. Find out more at streetxo.com.
For more about Seasonal Berries and even more yummy stuff you can do with strawberries, go to seasonalberries.co.uk.