This year I decided to give Mr S a birthday flashback to three years ago when I flew us both to Iceland for his big 4-0. It was an amazing holiday and our first without kids – not the easiest to replicate. The birthday treat came in the form a restaurant called Texture.
The Michelin starred restaurant and champagne bar is nestled in Portman Square, round the corner from Selfridges. The spacious Georgian room is decorated in neutral colours with pastel green leather upholstery, modern art and striking floral/twig arrangements.
Texture is the culinary brainchild of Icelandic born Chef Agnar Sverrisson (do you see my tenuous link), former Head Chef at Le Manoir Aux Quat’ Saisons. The cuisine is modern European with Scandinavian influences. And being a Chef from Iceland he sources some of the finest Icelandic products such as lamb, cod, langoustines and skyr. My tenuous link less so now. No?
Something of interest for all the health conscious is the lack of cream, butter and minimal quantities of sugar in the dishes. A conscious effort by the chef to not leave his diners uncomfortably full, by cooking light and healthy food without compromising on taste.
Whilst eyeing the menu, bowls of crispy wafer crisps arrived on the table consisting of parmesan, rye bread, potato with a yoghurty dip. Mr S had the added cod skin which looked like crackling. They were incredibly moreish, I suppose the prawn crackers of the Icelandic world.
The meal kicked off with an amuse-bouche of gazpacho. A refreshing, tomatoey delight that definitely woke up my tastebuds.
This was swiftly followed by steaming hot bread with sides of olive oil or one laced with chilli (winner!) and some Icelandic lava salt of course!
I began with the vegetable of the year – Cauliflower textures, pickled, cous cous soup. Gazpacho’s all very well but you tend to assume ‘soup’ is going to be hot, so it was a shock that it was cold. Creamy, crunchy, smooth, silky, the textures were all there. Although after a few spoonfuls I was over it even with its punchy flavours. Guess I’m not a cold food person.
I had starter envy. Mr S ordered new season lancaster beetroots, gorgonzola, snow and walnuts. The beets were so flavoursome and it was the prettiest looking dish. The mysterious snow was in fact horseradish in the form of shaved ice. Mr S thought it gave the dish a great injection of flavour.
With a sigh I followed with the staple restaurant vegetarian dish – heritage tomato risotto, barley, herbs, courgette, burrata. Admittedly I had to take back the sigh as the risotto was delicious. The pearl barley gave it a lovely nutty flavour and texture. The juicy tomatoes provided a perfect hint of acidity against the creamy burrata, it made my eyes light up. I get the sneaky suspicion the chef has a thing about tomatoes. They feature quite heavily on the menu (good job I love them!).
Mr S had his Nordic fill with his main of Icelandic lightly salted cod, avocado, brandade and tomatoes (there they are again). There is a meaty option which comes with chorizo. The fish was delicately cooked and moist. And for those who don’t know what brandade is (like me). It’s an emulsion of salt cod and olive oil.
Our pre-dessert of sorrel granita with a cinnamon and clove sabayon was the perfect palette cleanser.
Dessert was simple and divine – oak church farm strawberries, chocolate, crumble, cardamom ice cream. The intense flavours really made this dish.
Mr S the cheese fiend didn’t have the same high praise for this cheese plate. He wasn’t bowled over with the selection and the runny comte was definitely not his cup of tea.
The restaurant kindly arranged a happy birthday plate of petit fours. Made up of madeleines, passionfruit macaroons, meringues and truffles.
We dined à la carte on this occasion, not cheap with starters averaging £15 and and mains at £25. They also have a standard, vegetarian and fish tasting menus to indulge in. However, like so many other fine dining restaurants the lunch menu is exceptionally great value – two course at £29 and three at £33.50.
We experienced some fantastic cooking – innovative, clever and classy. The staff are so charming and friendly too which really suits the smart-yet-relaxed mood. If you fancy a change from Italian and French fine dining, give Nordic haute cuisine a go. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
Do you have a place that reminds you of a memorable holiday? Let me know in the comments box below.
Texture | 34 Portman Street | London | W1H 7BY
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