This first solo project from Italian chef Carlo Scotto (ex-Murano) shuns the food of his home country in favour of best-of-British produce fashioned into some very fine-dining modern cooking. As at another contemporary take on haute cuisine, Hide in Mayfair, the restaurant operates as two distinct spaces: Xier is the tasting menu-focused first floor, while downstairs, XR has a slightly more casual, accessible and slightly cheaper offering.
We dined from the 10-course tasting menu in Xier, which lasted over four hours. Needless to say, this is occasion dining, replete with theatre, sleek service and Michelin-baiting dishes that are turned out with assembly-line precision. Prices are high, portions are small and jugs of water are kept away from your table, because pouring one’s own drink here would be unthinkable.
Despite the fussiness, there is some real flair on show. Highlights from the 10 courses included a slither of sparklingly fresh rose-cured salmon, paired with a fatty blob of foie gras which is dusted with an earthy beetroot powder. Blobs of Bramley apple dotted along the edges add extra bursts of vivid freshness.
Another stand-out is the sublime black cod, which is supremely flaky, sleek with oil and brushed with a caramel miso. The accompanying best-in-class vegetables – crunchy asparagus spears and dried parsnip crisps – only added to our enjoyment.
The reward for reaching the end of the dining marathon is a cheese course featuring mouth-puckering fizzy grapes on the side, then a selection of desserts which the menu simply labels ‘Sweet tooth’. They’re not kidding: the caramel tart comes with a sticky, sugary centre sandwiched between a chocolate top and crunchy biscuit base.
Unlike many new London restaurants, Xier is a dining experience that requires you to be totally present. If you’re a fan of this increasingly rare kind of full-on fine-dining, you’ll be more than happy to give it your full attention.