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TLDR? The Carmen XO Experience is a unique, interactive way to dine.
When you walk into Carmen’s XO Experience the first thing you notice is the vibe. This isn’t the classic fancy or stuffy restaurant.
The music is a cool mix of smooth electronic & classic rock. The decor is Asian inspired with a stunning mural taking up the centerpiece wall.
But, the focal point of the decor is the massive pickling jars. The jars are backlit. Each with seemingly exotic ingredients inside.
There’s a soft pink everywhere, from the lighting to the chairs. The XO Experience feels classy and chic without being unapproachable or stuffy. This is not going to be a normal fancy dinner.
If you’re ready to dive into the evening with me, keep reading. Here’s what to expect at this unique experience.
Everything is beautifully curated while maintaining an air of approachability. The cocktail list boasts liquors from around the world mingled with local flavors.
Right after my cocktail arrived I met Carmen Angel, her partner Rob Previtts & the other Chef of the night, Sebastian Marin (their team also includes Mateo Rios but he was off-work!).
One of my favorite parts was the good energy surrounding the entire team. Sebastian had actually started off working with them a long time ago until now being a head chef! The staff have a close friends/family vibe I loved.
Rob began by explaining what the night would entail. We would eat 15 tasting courses made with interesting ingredients meticulously sourced by the team from around Colombia.
He went course by course and briefly touched on the flavors we would discover and a teaser of the “story” of the food. The XO Experience is truly a celebration of the biodiversity of Colombia. Even more so because the courses change based on the ingredients they source.
The team has a passion for adventuring in search of the best and most interesting flavors.
The tasting menu was on the board in front as follows:
As with all tasting menus… the first course sets the mood for the entire evening and this one did not disappoint. Rob shared with us the process behind the XO Experience curating special, unique caviar.
This candor was kept up the entire evening. We definitely felt a part of the process of the food preparation. The care the team puts into ingredient sourcing is spectacular and full of passion. This is clear because everything is delicious!
Although the food was beyond memorable, my favorite part was the story behind each course. The team involved us in the act of creation, not just as customers eating food in a restaurant.
The Carmen XO Experience was, without hesitation, the best tasting menu I have experienced anywhere in the world to this day.
And, we’re talking about a line-up of tasting menus in Hong Kong, the USA, and Buenos Aires. Rob and Carmen took away the pretentiousness of the culinary arts and instead created a warm and passionate conversation. Food IS art!
The courses were perfectly timed to always keep us engaged and the drink pairings were diverse! We had a sparkling rose, several red & white wines & a delicious ale. The drinks were perfectly proportioned and brought out the flavors of each course in unexpected ways.
The entire experience was full of little extra special touches. The fish course was plentiful (some people managed to fit down a few plates before giving up!) At one point Rob brought out a mystery pickled fruit because I mentioned I liked acidic flavors. Even the bathroom had a special twist with a heated seat!
I’m a huge fan of tasting menus… What set this one apart was the humanness of the team. There was no pretentiousness, there was only the highest quality food made with care and passion. There’s a reason this is called an experience. It was intimate and felt real.
This was not a show for the benefit of the guests, this was a passion and love for food and ingredients that I feel lucky to have been a part of!
Every course was specially sourced and created with love and vibes from this creative power couple and their amazing team.
To top off the evening, afterward, they played music at their speakeasy Jazz Bar in the Marquee Hotel and we stopped by to watch! If you’re looking for a memorable activity, this is for you.
There really is nothing like the Carmen XO Experience. If you’re wanting to try some great food and get involved in the cooking process, this is the place to go!