First Taste: Diverxo, As In Diverse


DiverXo sits on a drab street in a drab part of town I can honestly say I had never been to before. It's small, and there is no décor to speak of, though given the recent spate of tricked-out designer restaurants with mediocre food to hit Madrid, I see that as a good thing. It hasn't been open six weeks yet, and already it's tough to get a reservation. Which means it's all about the food, cariņo. And what food. DiverXo's menu is an Asian-Canary Islands-Spanish-Peruvian fusion mix with only a handful of entries per category, and if that sounds horrible, I can only say you haven't eaten there. In the 27-year-old hands of chef David Muņoz, the "Spanish tortilla" plays delicious tricks: Deeply flavored poached potatoes and onions, a barely poached quail's egg, a wrapping of wonton skin and saffrony-looking strings of dried Chinese pepper turn the classic potato omelet into the dim sum of your dreams. Perfectly cooked black cod—an exotic cousin of the bacalao that is a Madrid staple—comes browned with Chinese honey and swabbed with a pool of cider foam, while rich filets of Galician beef are glazed with a spicy Canary-Japanese mix of mojo and wasabi. For dessert, a chocolate cake studded with corn, topped with cocoa-dusted popcorn, and set aside a sweet corn ice cream single-handedly proves the error of strange Spanish aversion to maize. Not everything works—soft shelled crabs, no matter how crisply fried, should not be served with an Emmenthal cream, and the unsweetened herb ice cream that comes with the warm pistachio cake is objectively yucky. But DiverXo is an exciting place to eat—one of those places you hope makes it at the same time as you hope no one else discovers it. Muņoz has cooked at some of Madrid's best restaurants, including Balzac and Viridiana,  as well as at London's Hakkasan. In Madrid, where fusion usually means there's hummus and spring rolls on the menu next to the gazpacho and salt cod, he is doing global right.

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