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Diverxo puts on its new show

Chef David Muñoz says he wants to create "the Cirque du Soleil of haute cuisine"

José Carlos Capel
The dining area of Diverxo: "We want customers to participate in an interactive experience," says chef David Muñoz.
The dining area of Diverxo: "We want customers to participate in an interactive experience," says chef David Muñoz. SANTI BURGOS (EL PAÍS)

In the foyer of Diverxo, the sofas and the table that once comprised the waiting area have disappeared. In their place are table tops mounted on trestles. "It is not a walkthrough area but a pop-up workshop where we begin setting up our dishes," says chef David Muñoz, the owner of the restaurant.

It is an ephemeral space that adjoins the kitchen and resembles a painting studio. On every surface are spatulas, plastic spoons and brushes crafted with wooden handles that perform the functions of cutlery. And in the middle of the kitchen lies the new crockery - snow-white sheets made from powdered glass and provided exclusively to the restaurant by the Luesma Vega company of Barcelona.

There are no fewer than 11 types of plate - wrinkled, folded, striped - over which Muñoz enthuses. They were the spark that started the revolution in his dining room. "The dishes come non-stop to the tables. As the diners start the tasting we are finishing off the recipes. We want them to participate in an interactive experience. Diverxo is aiming to become the Cirque du Soleil of haute cuisine," he says."

The coming and going from the kitchen's stoves is incessant. Muñoz and his chefs burst in to finish off the imaginative dishes. There is no shouting, just soft discussions.

As the diners start the tasting we are finishing off the recipes"

"The rhythm we set is fast because although we only serve 30 covers in each sitting it seems like we are serving 200. Between the restaurant and the kitchen there are 28 professionals."

Diverxo's dishes, rounded and balanced, are subject to change. They are the fruit of Muñoz's mind, which allows them to evolve periodically. Any of the three menus on offer bring intense sensations: smoked, acidic, tart and bitter are superimposed on sweet, spicy and hot notes.

Muñoz's pantry covers the entire world, moving from Asia to Latin America with the same impudence as it moves from Iberian blood sausage to Canary Islands-style potatoes.

In each recipe there are never fewer than 15 ingredients. Muñoz's creativity comes from secret methods and the intimate knowledge he has of the produce at his fingertips. And also from a rare talent that nobody denies.

Chef David Muñoz.

The sour oxtail soup with smoked eel, sea noodles and elvers is as spectacular as the strawberry kimchi with line-caught sautéed baby squid. Another complex dish, Chinese muffin filled with curried guinea fowl and shrimp incorporates beer foam and the heads of the crustacean. Even more dazzling is the unfloured sole a la romana, with crunchy bacon ice-cream and short stick noodles. Or the extrasweet lamb, with hibiscus, cassis and fermented truffle paste.

Among the desserts, which do not give an inch, is a memorable blend of violets, pecan nuts and toasted milk skin.

Muñoz believes avant-garde cooking needs to be redefined. He feels that his kitchen, radical and conceptual, is swimming against the tide of fashions and trends and breaking new ground. Among the diners at Diverxo are critics and chefs from around the world. The two-month waiting list has already led to complaints about the restaurant's reservation system. But for now, the important acknowledgements Diverxo has achieved appear to be an understatement.

Maybe, as Muñoz himself asserts, the best of Diverxo is to come in the near future.

Diverxo, C/ Pensamiento 28, Madrid. Tel: 915 70 07 66. Closed Sundays and Mondays. Price: between 90 and 150 euros per head. Menus: 75, 100 and 120 euros. www.diverxo.com

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