You’d be forgiven for waking past Ixchel assuming it was a boutique interiors shop, such is its glass frontage and location on the Kings Road. Inside, there’s no mistaking its Mexican feel, but it’s tasteful and contemporary, a far cry from the garish themed taquerias on provincial high streets. There are bold, contemporary touches, with a colourful mural, wicker ceilings and curious sofa-seating tables as you enter, but the further you go inside the more it feels like a Mexican casita, with herringbone brick, objets d’art tucked into nooks and soft edge rendering like the pueblos I’ve seen in Clint Eastwood movies. If Bo Concept did Mexican, their showroom would look a little like this.

What’s distinctly atypical is what’s on the menu. You won’t find fajitas and token pibil tacos here, this is Mexican cuisine given some serious application. At the helm is Ximena Gayosso Gonzalez, bringing her passion and creativity into a sharing concept. Mexican tapas, if you will. Divided into small plates ‘para picar’, tacos, mains and salads, it’s just as well we’re advised to pick a selection from each, because everything on the menu sounds utterly divine.

A first test of any Mexican restaurant is its margaritas, and Ixchel’s tequila bar sets a new, well, bar. These are punchy and delightful, with a range of spins on them. I can’t quite bring myself to add avocado but the result is surprisingly effective when Larman orders it. I’m more than happy with Patron silver given a dash of Italicus – a clever alternative to Triple Sec – and sage. They come accompanying the ‘snacks’ of guacamole with (very decent) home made tortillas, and tostadas; a tangy cactus salad and crab with pico de gallo. They’re heaped, too, cracking and spilling as we devour them, in a finger-licking frenzy. I notice the first touches of fire that has me garrulous and Larman muted as he starts dabbing beads of sweat from his brow and downing his water.

There’s something more engaging about sharing concepts where you order course by course, befitting one’s taste and pacing one’s appetite, and we soon develop a rapport with the waiter. He starts to realise what we like, and makes some excellent recommendations. Given the option of wheat or corn tacos, Larman finds his form; pausing his diatribe on Trump’s trial to commend the pork belly, but the highlight is the sautéed prawn quesadilla, with pickled red onion and morita chilli, and oozing melted cheese. Larman utters one word ‘unctuous’ behind his grin, and dives back in. “I could eat these all night,” he quips, and turns to the table next to us, who are deliberating over the menu, commanding “make sure you order these!”

All this, however, is mere prelude to the main event. We very nearly overdo it, but are steered back by the waiter, then fear we’ve under-ordered with just one item. The steak. But how wrong we were. It’s a 28-day aged Hereford rib-eye, cooked to chef’s specifications, draped in a chilmole sauce, and presented with tortillas and salsa verde in a sort of build-your-own taco type motif. And it was a riot of flavour; we went to town, adding sides of broccolini, potatoes, dipping into the mole. I kept singing my praises to the waiter, “no, really, tell the chef,” I insisted.

We weren’t done there. The postres menu arrived and we elected the bunuelo doughnut balls and a tres leches cake. Each, delivered rustic anywhere else, like churros in a glass with dipping chocolate, here were delicate and beautifully presented. I had favoured a dessert cocktail – the menu as intriguing as the aperitifs – but the sight of evaporated milk and peanut butter in a digestif was anathema to a man who’s signature is an espresso martini.

We settled for a mezcal to conclude proceedings, which came reminiscent of student days; served with orange, chili, and salt. I knew this to be sipped, like a fine whisky, the accoutrements merely there to enhance the flavour. But as I looked up, Larman had slammed his glass down, upending it on the table. “Did you just shoot that?” He looked at me, quizzically, “Shouldn’t I have?” Evidently, for a man of letters, it’s nice to know there’s still something I’m able to educate him on.

If Ixchel is inspired by a Mayan goddess, that Mayan goddess is clearly at work in the kitchen. And at the bar. And in the interior design. Ixchel is a tour de force, a new address on the map, a must-visit. We shall be back. Larman raises his glass and gives me a raised eyebrow, “I’d say we’ve just found our Mexican establishment, old boy”.

Ixchel, 33 Kings Road, London. For more information, and for bookings, please visit www.ixchellondon.com.