|David Muñoz' Chili-hawk!|
Department stores are not my ideal settings for lovely dinners, but I was curious to see how the Corte Ingles' new Gourmet Experience area on the top floor of the store in Callao was faring, and the results were actually surprising - especially when it came to StreetXO, the new "street food" joint by two-Michelin star chef David Muñoz of DiverXO fame.
Basically, the top floor of this center (which incidentally has some pretty great views) has been turned into a fancy international supermarket with an even fancier "food court". Loud music was pumping out of a variety of establishments serving different types of food (Mexican, noodles, tapas, etc.), but none was louder than what was coming out of StreetXO.
Ready to be disappointed - call me a cynic - I confess that the dishes being turned out by the busy open kitchen sounded both interesting and appealing: "Hong Kong-Madrid Cocido" with char grilled tamarind, taro root and pickled chilies (Cocido Hong Kong-Madrid con tamarindo al carbón, Taro y chiles escabechados); Grilled bone marrow and hake with Kimchi juice and (some sort of) rice (Tuétano y cocotxa a la brasa, Bilbaina y jugo de Kimchee, Gallega de arroz); and "Chili-crab" paprika, chipotles, Palo Cortado (a type of sherry) and mantou (Chilli Crab, Pimentón, chipotles, Palo Cortado, Mantou), to name a few.
We opted for the Peking-style chicken skewer and smoked bonito flakes with Tobiko, Yogurt-passion and Chinese five-spice (Espeto de pollo pekinés y bonito ahumado, Tobiko, Yoghurt-pasión, 5 especias chinas), which was delicious, with tender pieces of hoisin marinated chicken that had been cooked three times at different temperatures and then topped with katsuo-bushi flakes, roe, cucumber and pickled red onions.
We then tried the Korean rice dumplings with Korean bolognese sauce, Chinese five spice and mandarin orange juice (Ñoquis de arroz glutinoso con boloñesa coreana. Cinco especias chinas. Jugo de mandarinas), topped with thin and crispy strips of pork rind.
Both were delicious and left me with ganas to try more.
For a standing meal at a bar in a department store, the prices aren't cheap - between nine and fourteen Euros per dish - but neither are the ingredients, and each plate held a laborious - though fast - level of preparation.
Unfortunately, the biggest problem with the meal is that, at the end of the day, you are still standing in a department store.
Pizza Al Cuadro makes it to the big time (yay?)
On a side note, it was nice to see that El Corte Inglés had diversified the offering of restaurants at its Gourmet Experience. Instead of only featuring the staid chain places or large franchises, one of the other featured restaurants was Malasaña neighborhood pizza joint, Pizza Al Cuadro. It made me delighted for their success to see them included in this project, but a little sad at the same time to see a neighborhood favorite ensconced in a big department store chain. As my companion put it, it's kind of like when your favorite local band goes mainstream: bittersweet.