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‘What’s it going to
be then, eh?’ –
A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess (1962)

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David Muñoz stares out from the website of his three Michelin star garlanded Madrid restaurant DiverXO with an expression teetering between contempt and disgust. In another frame, he’s sticking his tongue out provocatively in a “nah nah nah nah nah” pose. Another image styles him as some sort of demented Joker. A pared back, minimalist Mohican is his bouffon of choice. “Welcome to the dream world of Dabiz Muñoz”, it trumpets.

A video runs showing him daubing and splattering a huge canvas with paint, while another plays out a slickly shot film of a dinner party, an aberrant motley crew of diners embarking on an eye-widening meal overlaid by a horror schtick voiceover: a couple of the diners appear to climax after licking plates clean, feeding their neighbour a morsel, or quaffing another glass of iconic Spanish red Dominio de Pingus. It turns out the short film is an award winning one, directed by Marc Ortiz. It’s an entertaining, dark, and revealing insight into Muñoz’s ‘shtick’: ‘I’m not going to stop until your shouts, your laughter and your tears, are sincere’, drawls the narrator as David strolls menacingly into shot. Ooo-err.

This is chef as punk, as enfant terrible, as deviant artist, a version of A Clockwork Orange’s Alex, another pose on the site showing him with right eye dramatically tricked out with mascara (he’s clearly a fan of Stanley Kubrick’s 1971 film of Anthony Burgess’s novel). This droog, as Alex would have intoned, is here to shock and dazzle with cookery as performance, as spectacle and drama. He will come across to many, with all this ego-driven frippery, as a bit of a dick.

However, David knows London well, having worked here for five years, at Hakkasan and David Thompson’s Nahm, as well as time with Giorgio Locatelli and Jun Tanaka. Also, refreshingly, this isn’t a Michelin starred chef opening in a hotel (hoorah), so the place has a chance of cementing its own identity. Street XO is the more ‘casual’ version of his restaurants, one of which he also owns in Madrid.

Read on...

This Week

A fine foie gras and pheasant terrine with spiced apple and golden raisins; Cornish hake with lobster cassoulet and smoked bacon. The Frontline Club have had a smart refurb and menu re-launch in Paddington.

Sunday at The Laughing Heart: dumplings of prawn and stone bass; cep, black trompette and shiitake; crab and pork. Highlight of the Chinese themed Sundays here includes a scintillating piece of stone bass in a Xiao Xing broth, singing with a 20-year-old Xiao Xing rice wine. Tsing Tao beer in cans to accompany.

Remarkably good homemade scotch eggs at a local deli, Pantry & Co. in Highams Park, E4. Oozy yolk rating 10/10. This tiny deli has lots to recommend it: a recent visit saw great looking plates of duck egg and black pudding on toast coming out to the communal table.


Another (one of many, many, many) visit to A. Wong in Victoria. Won Ton soup, a new Goldfish (prawn dumpling) dish, and Hong Kong egg waffle with marinated beef salad (c.Zhou Dynasty).
Review from 2013
I've helped Blacklock (Big
Chops, Skinny Chops, Soho
basement) put together a little
list of wines for their new
blackboard. Friendly cash margins means great drinking without
spaffing over the odds. Chops on
a grill alongside some cracking
wines —

Cabernet Sauvignon 2011,
Restless River
Hemel-en-Aarde Valley, South Africa

Cult Syrah 2013, BK Wines
Adelaide Hills, Australia

Cabernet Sauvignon 2011,
Ridge Vineyards Sonoma, USA

Pinot Noir 'Laissez Faire' 2014, Cherubino Pemberton, Australia

Nero d'Avola 2013, Fox Gordon
Adelaide Hills, Australia

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Riesling 2012, Sybille Kuntz
Mosel, Germany

'Kortpad Kaptoe' 2014,
Blank Bottle Wellington, South Africa

Chardonnay 'Graviers' 2012, Stephane Tissot Arbois, France

Riesling 2013, Clos Clare
Watervale, Australia

'Toru' (Gewürztraminer/ Riesling/Pinot Gris) 2013,
Te Whare Ra
Marlborough, New Zealand


Tacos, tacos, tacos. London is under a taco onslaught at the moment, and Temper have brought their own taco game to Soho. This jaw-dropping Soho basement site are grinding corn from Masienda, who partner with local farmers, smallholders and producers to produce top draw Mexican ingredients: the emphasis is on promoting agricultural bio-diversity, sustainability, and supporting smallholder farmers. The rough hewn tacos have heft and texture, and toppings are playful and imaginative: soy-cured beef, fermented chilli and sesame; aubergine and chipotle miso, green chilli, avocado; blowtorched mackerel, avocado, bottarga and green sauce; ibérico ham, pineapple, mozzarella, chipotle passata (a riff on a Hawaiian pizza…one worth eating). Smoked and grilled meats are cooked in the huge, supermodel of an open kitchen. The wine list is worth giving a good bashing, too.
Why do wines
go in and out of fashion?

A wine region and grape can be on the top table for years and then suddenly fall from grace. Wine writer Zeren Wilson charts the rise, fall… and rise again of the likes of Chardonnay and Merlot to find out why our tastes change.

Read the article
A walk on
the North-East side

Zeren Wilson enthuses about the evolution in dining and drinking options in his ‘hood – “We’ve never had so many food writers traipsing out of Central line stations...”

CODE Quarterly
Issue 8
Read the article
Do you

From ‘unctuous mouthful’ to ‘lovely bouquet’, wine writer Zeren Wilson tells us which wine phrases are beaujolais nouveau and which have been consigned to the spittoon of clichés

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The wines of Chianti are among the best known in the world, but not always seen as “premium.” As the region celebrates its 300th anniversary we meet some of the winemakers changing perceptions.

Luxury Defined
Read the article

"Bloody tasting notes. The infuriating, bombastic, ridiculous tasting note, sitting there all smug and chuffed with itself – “look at me, aren’t I clever”, it seems to chime. Cocky little bugger."

Noble Rot
Issue N11
Read the article

As Sideways opens on the stage in London, Zeren Wilson reminisces of his time spent in the vineyards of California.

CODE Quarterly
Issue 7
Read the article

“Wild chimps caught boozing on 7% ABV ‘wine’”, shrieked the headline in The Guardian last year. As headlines go, that’s a corker.

Noble Rot
Issue N10
Read the article

“It’s likely that the thunderbolt wine revelation usually comes courtesy of a restaurant, via a well chosen list, a savvy sommelier, a beautiful plate of food, and the perfect alchemy of a night out.”

Once you’ve had a taste of the good stuff, "it's hard to go back”. Here he explores the vinous Holy Grail. Corkscrews at the ready.

CODE Quarterly
Issue 6
Read the article

Everyone knows the wines of Napa and Sonoma, but some of California’s lesser-known wine regions are producing vintages that are equally appealing...

Christie's Magazine
February 2016
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Wine is good for you

"A meal without wine is unthinkable for some. Being in a restaurant sober and not witnessing the cut and thrust of the dining room; missing that moment when the volume seems to ‘pop’, usually around 9pm, would make me consider why I was there at all...

Hoi Polloi
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Zeren Wilson ponders the often-snubbed ‘house wine’ and assures us that frugal drinking in London is better than it has been before.

“Monsieur, with this House Ferrero Rocher Wine, you are really spoiling us...”. Or something like that...

CODE Quarterly
Issue 5
Read the article
The Menu Fetishist Returns

“Here’s our menu, let me know if you have any questions...” The phrase that launched a thousand meals. You read, you choose, you ask, they bring: no titillation here, nothing to see, please move along. You’re a menu fetishist? You sick bastard...

Noble Rot
Issue N8
Read the article
Wine List Man vs Inverted Snob

Do you really know about wine? Or is all your swaggering braggadocio about to be mercilessly skewered by the secret wine buff in your midst?

Noble Rot
Issue 6
Read the article
Written Welcome
to K–Town

There’s something in the air and it’s Korean flavoured. Zeren Wilson finds out why Korean cuisine is the food of the moment

May 2015
Read the article
Written Blue

Spring; The menu bristles with the confidence that means no frilly language, just laconic listings of ingredients with the odd nod to a cooking technique here or there:

Completely London
Spring 2015
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Written Thai Lords

Thai cuisine is on
the verge of a re-appraisal in the UK, with new restaurants cooking regional dishes that really highlight the depth and diversity of the food. Zeren Wilson reports

Caterer & Hotelkeeper,
February 2014
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Written Lambrusco

Having fallen from grace, Lambrusco is now making a comeback in its traditional form as a deep, dry,
sparkling wine from Emilia Romagna. Zeren Wilson hails the return of this once–derided drop.

Christie’s Magazine,
October 2014
Read the article
Written California

The wines of Napa Valley and Sonoma County are back in the frame, their characteristic exuberance tempered with the restraint that first wowed the world in 1976. Zeren Wilson, reports

Christie’s Magazine,
November 2014
Read the article
Written What to drink with a kebab

– And it's not lager.

Inspired by the recent British Kebab awards Zeren Wilson wonders what the perfect wine pairing is for a kebab and comes up with some surprising conclusions.

Matching Food & Wine
August 2014
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One of the finest estates in Montalcino, the Costanti family have owned their ten hectares of vines for over two hundred years. Vines are grown at relatively high altitude for Montalcino, adding a freshness and elegance sometimes missing from some of the more brutish, heavy hitting wines from Montalcino, and 100% Sangiovese allows the signature fragrance and red cherry scented charm of the grape to shine through. Enjoyed at the beautifully designed Luca, the new opening from the team behind The Clove Club. A fine partner for a couple of cracking plates of pasta, grouse ravioli and cannelloni of calve's head ragù.
Wine of the week

Rosso Di Montalcino 2014, Conti Costanti, Tuscany, Italy




Enter the biryani. Who doesn’t like a good biryani? How often do we order one? Probably not often enough. This basement site on Wardour Street is aiming to blitz all (most) of those other distracting options from your Indian meal: you WILL walk out having ordered a biryani, the end. Chicken wings tossed in a spicy/sour Masala threaten to overshadow everything before we even see a biryani, hopping with slow chilli burn and a masala that has us chasing it around and sucking it off the bone. Andhra Prawn Fry has a similarly wicked sauce of red chilli and coconut. 'Scoop-up’ worthy.

Biryani arrives festooned with a pastry top – crack into that, scoop up fluffy rice scented with fragrant spice, hunks of lamb shank, and whack in the accompaniments of green chilli curry, boiled egg, and a smoked aubergine raita, if you’re in the mood. The tiny booths are cute, the place is cosy, the biryani mighty fine. Another Cobra please. Make it two. Cheers.
Steak, Chips,
Bijou Wine List

I'm helping with the wine list for this two months residency at The Newman Arms, Fitzrovia. Philip Warren's grass-fed Cornish beef, hand cut chips, and a little list of wines at rather silly prices. Upstairs at The Newman Arms.