Texture 22

34 Portman Street , London, W1H 7BY

10 reviews

76 Modern European Marylebone

  • Texture April 2015 1
  • Texture April 2015 2

SquareMeal Review of Texture

Nordic influences now pervade London’s restaurant scene, but Agnar Sverrisson’s Michelin-starred restaurant remains one of the best places in town for a taste of the north. Butter and cream are given a wide berth, but there’s no lack of luxury in the kitchen’s focused and often ingenious approach to high-class ingredients. Seafood really sings – perhaps Norwegian king crab with coconut, ginger, lime leaf and lemongrass, followed by lightly salted Icelandic cod with avocado, brandade, tomatoes and chorizo – while land-based treats range from Lancaster beetroots with Gorgonzola, walnuts and ‘snow’ (a favourite flourish) to Limousin veal with artichokes, runner beans and cherries. Skyr may have hit the mainstream, but here it’s the real deal, served with vanilla, rye bread and blueberries, while white chocolate is ingeniously balanced with dill and cucumber. Sommelier and co-founder Xavier Rousset left in 2015 to open restaurants including Blandford Comptoir, but there’s been no obvious harm to the wine list, which remains a Riesling-fancier’s dream.

Wine List Of The Year Finalist

Texture’s Champagne list opens with the famous Lily Bollinger quote. You know, the ‘drink it when I’m happy and when I’m sad’ one. Then, just to remind you that it takes its Champagne seriously, it moves in to a couple of pages that outline its history, production methods and classification system. It’s not just the number of bins available – though 130 was about as many as any list managed – it is the breadth of producers represented. While many lists majored on multiple offerings from grande marques, Texture had no more than six wines from any house. Its 45 producers (listed alphabetically from Agrapart to Vouette et Sorbée) stretch across the entire champagne region, covering every style from extra-brut to off-dry, and oak-aged to blanc de blancs.

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8.1

Food & Drink: 8.8

Service: 8.2

Atmosphere: 7.4

Value: 6.6

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 5.0

Atmosphere: 2.0

Value: 2.0

Stephen L. 27 March 2015

We had the fish tasting menu and it was very good. Good variation between courses and they were more than just a taste. The staff were knowledgeable and very friendly. Some might find it a little off putting because there were a lot of staff and it seemed that there was always someone attending the table. However, all the staff were so pleasant that it added to the evening. The wine made it a very expensive night with limited selections under £60 a bottle it is not a night for the faint-hearted wine lover. The atmosphere could have been better but I would recommend this restaurant. Just be prepared for the bill!

Food & Drink: 5.0

Service: 4.0

Atmosphere: 4.0

Value: 4.0

Gourmand Gunno platinum reviewer 05 February 2015

Expectations inevitably run high whenever it’s a special evening out, you’re dining at a Michelin-starred restaurant and, you’re opting for the tasting menu – which ought to show the chef’s expertise at its best. Nonetheless, a recent evening out at Texture saw both my dining comrade and I highly satisfied by the overall experience. We had visited the restaurant once previously together just after it had opened and were slightly underwhelmed on that occasion, feeling in particular that the place lacked in either atmosphere or innovation. Five years on and having heard good things recently, we ventured back and were not disappointed; broadly, Texture seems now to have hit its stride, knows what it is good and excels in this respect. Prior to dinning we enjoyed a bottle of champagne in the bar adjacent to the restaurant. Our server very helpfully and knowledgeably talked us through the extensive list of champagnes (perhaps the largest in London) and we eventually settled on a superb bottle of Drappier. We appreciated the fact that we were bought four separate snack options to alleviate our peckishness while drinking: two of these were specially prepared for my vegetarian comrade, and two for my more omnivorous palate. In our experience, not all comparable restaurants are so assiduous in this respect. We were also impressed by the things Texture could do with popcorn – in a bacon-flavoured version (obviously for me), one could almost taste the sizzling rashers. Onto the dining, and we were ushered into a beautiful – and mostly full – room, characterised by its high ceiling with ornate cornicing and discrete examples of modern art on the wall. Texture characterises its cooking style as ‘modern European with a Scandinavian twist’ and we were both delighted with the relative originality of the tasting menus with which we were presented. From my perspective, it was a delight not to see the almost obligatory scallop dish at the start of the menu and the similarly almost obligatory slab of beef as the main highlight. Instead, I marvelled at the delicacy of my wood pigeon (certainly the stand-out dish for me) and also the intensity of the venison steak, served in an unctuous chocolate sauce. In general terms, the chefs at Texture seem to prefer flavour intensity of the underlying substance with which they are working over the unnecessary adornment of dishes with superfluous ingredients. The formula certainly worked for us. My comrade also praised her food, but could not help feeling slightly disappointed with her primary dish being ‘cauliflower textures.’ Cauliflower, sadly, is not the most interesting of vegetables, and with regard to this vegetarian dish – and a number of the others – there seemed to be a discernible lack of starch. Despite this quibble, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, certainly helped by the paired wines (different for me and my comrade). The whole experience does not come cheap, but is definitely worth it, with Texture ranking among the best high-end recent meals we have sampled.

Food & Drink: 5.0

Service: 4.0

Atmosphere: 3.0

Value: 3.0

Amy M. platinum reviewer 06 May 2014

Being a spoilt foodie, it is rare that I depart a restaurant nowadays waxing lyrical, but this is possibly the best meal I have had in recent memory. From the starter the petit fours, there were “mmms” and “delicious” muttered all over the table. It is genuinely what I would describe as exquisite. Not a word I apply often. The only downside is that it does feel very “business” and I wonder if it would be relaxed enough for a date or a group of friends. And of course, the prices match the extremely high level of cooking. You won't eat for less than £100 a head, but it's sooooo worth it.

Food & Drink: 3.0

Service: 3.0

Atmosphere: 3.0

Value: 2.0

BoatLady platinum reviewer 10 July 2013

First impressions at Texture were pretty great: friendly and attentive staff at the front bar dished out drinks as we arrived in dribs and drabs and delivered the best popcorn nibbles I've ever had in my life. Then we were shown through to the dining room with its high ceilings and minimalist art beautifully blending tradition with modernity, to our table near the semi-open kitchen. We all agreed on the tasting menu, despite the £79 price tag, to get the full experience, with 2 of us also swallowing £49 for matched wines. Unfortunately, that's just about where memory fails me. Whilst we all agreed that the chef had certainly fulfilled his ambition of turning out interesting food without all the heavy butter it just lacked the oomph it needed to be a really special meal. We started off impressed by how closely the chef stuck with the eponymous texture mission with a mint pea soup thing with some granita other thing; then I've got vague memories of asparagus and sweetcorn which came as both bits and a puree. But then the next thing I remember (for the wrong reasons) was a bland sliver of beef which didn't really live up to all the US prime grain-fed blurb and of which the best part was the one bowl of triple cooked chips to share. And the rest is just not very memorable. Add to that, the acoustics are terrible: I could barely hear my companions above the hubbub and I couldn't hear the waiters at all which was particularly frustrating as they insisted on interrupting our meal with explanations of the food and wine (delivered as seriously as a Shakespearian soliloquy) which we nodded along with, deafly but dutifully, for 12 wasted and unwanted interruptions. The more senior staff were smiley but I felt it lacked any real joy overall. Yes it's cool, modern, unpretentious, unfussy, unusual and light but for me the best bit was the goody bag of macaroons to take home (yum). If I could spend my £150 again I'd be going back to revel in the exuberance of Heston's meat fruit. Or somewhere with carpet and lard.

Food & Drink: 5.0

Service: 5.0

Atmosphere: 4.0

Value: 3.0

Mike T. bronze reviewer 11 May 2013

This is an excellent restaurant: food, wine and service are all superb. It is also rather a pleasant environment to be in, one feels exclusively pampered, if I may put it this way. I do not think that I need to carry on: Square Meal write-up is fairly accurate. The only problem is price, most particularly that of wine. My two-course dinner for two, including a bottle of a non-exclusive wine, armagnac and a glass of a dessert wine topped 170 pounds. That is a lot of money in anyone's language…

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 4.0

Atmosphere: 3.0

Value: 3.0

London Gourmet platinum reviewer 26 January 2013

Great food with a focus on fish (it's nordic after all so you would expect) but not a fish only place. Good service

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 1.0

Atmosphere: 2.0

Value: 2.0

Deirdre R. 31 July 2011

It could have been because I wasn't wearing my Louboutins, but from the moment I arrived at Texture until I left I felt almost invisible. There was no greeting on arrival and we were left standing at the bar wondering should we wait until shown to a table or take a seat for a pre drinks. We initiated the conversation with the bar man who said we could take a seat where we wanted in the bar. No drink menu on table, we had to get one from the bar. The appearance of pop corn and greasy homemade crisps I thought strange for a michelin star restaurant. We had an 8.30 booking but were shown to our table almost one hour later, hidden in a corner where we could see all but be seen by none. The service was very robotic and awkward. Twice we were left with empty glasses and even told that we had no wine left only for the Sommelier to suddenly arrive with our still half bottle of wine. It was a £35 bottle of Spanish badia but tasted like cheap plonk. My partner had advised them in advance it was my birthday hoping they would make a special effort, they stuck a candle in my desert! Most strange of all the chef spent huge amounts of time with every other table in the room but totally ignored us. What these restaurants need to remember is that one mans money is as good as the next and when they are charging exorbitant prices they need to provide a service that matches the food which incidentally was good but not the best I have eaten.

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 5.0

Atmosphere: 4.0

Value: 4.0

Richard E. platinum reviewer 20 June 2011

When you think of things that have come out of Iceland (Vikings, toxic debt, volcanic ash, Björk) none of them are particularly pleasant. If you were to extend this theme to food, it would be a similar result: the national dish involves putrid shark and they have a penchant for puffin and whale. So why on earth would you want to go to a restaurant that’s USP is that the chef is Icelandic? The answer is that it is really rather good. Actually, scratch that: it is really very good. Very, very good. Texture is pretty much a local for me, yet this was only my second visit since it opened three or four years back. Having been inspired by a trip to the champagne bar here a few weeks back, however, we took the plunge late on a Saturday night, post open air theatre. For the life of me, I cannot work out why it has taken me so long to return to dine. The dining room, reached via the relaxing champagne bar, is a high ceilinged affair, with wine displayed in racks along two sides, one dividing the dining area from the bar, the other half-masking the area where the meals are assembled. It doesn’t have the hush of many a Michelin anointed establishment, being very laid back; an approach matched by the (uniformly fantastic) staff, who were relaxed and friendly, helpfully suggesting certain dishes (which we ignored) and interesting wine (which we went along with). Food should always be the main point of a restaurant, but everything around the food (the service, the atmosphere, the wine) can elevate good food to great, just as easily as great food to rubbish (thank you Gidleigh Park). I cannot think of a better restaurant that I have been to in London for a long time. It is up there with Hibiscus, the Ledbury, the Square and even everyone’s 2011 darling: Diner by Heston B. The amuse bouche was a pea and mint affair, with the first of the evening’s “snows”. We’ve had smears, foams and other affectations posing as The Next Big Thing, but (other than at Noma), I don’t think I’ve had snow before. This one was green and minty, and came with a green and peay mousse; a delightful mixture of textures, tastes and temperatures. For starters we had the crab and the asparagus. The crab came in coconut sauce and a gazpacho in two parts; the traditional chilled soup and a pink snow. Lovely; light, great tastes, complimentary textures. The asparagus was excellent too, this time the snow being parmesan. Perhaps the only time you should ever eat yellow snow. Having said that, parmesan snow was the only thing all evening that didn’t really work. Sorry. Nobody is perfect, but parmesan done as a crisp (as it was here too) is the best way for the hard, salty formaggio, and freezing it just didn’t do it for me. Mains continued the extremely high standard. Suckling pig came in three sections, with meltingly tender meat, crispy skin and being accompanied by the most perfect pork scratching ever. And I know my pork scratchings. The lamb, all the way from the Pyrenees, was accompanied by wild Icelandic herbs. I couldn’t place any of them, but they worked as well as the far more traditional mint sauce. We ducked the deserts and instead settled on the coffee and petit fours. Again, all excellent, even the one advertised as “fisherman’s friend”, which was a meringue on a stick that indeed tasted of the traditional menthol eucalyptus lozenge. The wine list is, as you’d expect when compiled by somebody who was UK sommelier of the year at the tender age of 22, terrific; not only in terms of geographic spread, but also price range and in the availability of wines by the glass. 22? I mean come on: when I was that age I had just about worked out that d’Yquem was a rather expensive desert wine, not the noise a Frenchman makes when he sneezes. Sometime life just isn’t fair. Our excellent sommelier (who was given the rather hard task of pairing a white wine with crab, asparagus, pig and lamb) came up with an excellent Languedoc-Roussillion that was delicate enough not to overpower the crab, but bold enough not to be swamped by the lamb. All this comes at a price of course, of course, and that price is high. Not Alain Ducasse high, but still not the sort of place you come to if you’re brassic. So go please, I beg you. Just not so many of you that I can’t get a table when I next want one.

Food & Drink: 5.0

Service: 5.0

Atmosphere: 5.0

Value: 4.0

Christopher J. platinum reviewer 04 April 2011

I did not know what to expect from Icelandic cuisine. I certainly didn't imagine that a tasting menu created without butter or cream would feature amongst one of the finest meals I have ever enjoyed in London. It was nothing short of sublime. This was death row, last meal material. From the moment the selection of crispbreads arrived, we knew that we were in for a treat – the five course tasting menu covered Pea, Lobster, Quail, Cod and Beef with a thoroughly delicious desert of Rhubarb and Muesli. Consistently excellent, extremely technical and difficult to choose between them. Despite the formality of the environment, the service was very friendly and relaxed, with Sverrisson regularly appearing from the kitchen to check on things front of house. This is only the second restaurant that produced a 10/10 experience and I would thoroughly recommend it to any readers looking for a fine dining experience beyond the classic French formula.

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 4.0

Atmosphere: 3.0

Value: 3.0

Sabrina's Passions platinum reviewer 30 April 2010

We arrive at Texture and are shown to our table, a cosy little nook which overlooks the rather interesting ‘open’ plating area. Chunky rustic bread, a wafer-thin assortment of deep fried miscellany and an amuse bouche of creamy pea mousse are just some of the treats we begin our meal with. Chef Agnar Sverrisson has arranged for a tasting of the some of the best dishes on the menu and so the coming courses are very much an exciting mystery as yet. The first course of beetroot, goat’s cheese with rocket and balsamic vinegar and chervil ice cream is a palate of vibrant colour. The dish is wonderfully simple with clean flavours and the added interesting element of chervil ice cream, which works perfectly with against the sweetness of the beetroot. Our fish course is a classic salute to Scandinavian cuisine, with organic salmon ‘Graflax’ (the Icelandic spelling for ‘Gravadlax’) cured with a delicate coating of herbs and pepper with an accompanying horseradish sauce and tiny little pieces of broken rye bread, which is entirely scrumptious. This is the kind of dish I could eat forever with batting an eyelid. Next up, comes a signature dish of char-grilled English Quail, with sweetcorn, shallot, bacon popcorn and red wine essence. One does often wonder how a Chef decides to put certain ingredients together, but no one component is less appealing because of another. The quail is tender and sweet and the kernels of sweetcorn burst in my mouth releasing their juice, complimenting the salty bacon. A tad confused about what I should be doing with the popcorn, I simply pop them in my mouth once I have finished everything else. Our next course is char-grilled grain-fed beef rib eye with Ox cheek, served with horseradish and an olive oil Béarnaise. “Olive oil Béarnaise, you say?” – Yes, because interestingly, Texture do not use cream or butter in their cooking and as written on the menu it is actually a ‘B”arnaise’ sauce, rather than your garden-variety Béarnaise. The beef is meltingly tender and the dish itself is incredibly simple showcasing the meat beautifully. The Ox cheek is perfectly cooked and seasoned and seems to be a perfect pairing for the horseradish sauce. The rich and mousse-like ‘B”arnaise’ works well with the beef, but in my humble opinion is no substitute for a classic Béarnaise sauce. Dessert arrives as another Texture signature dish of Icelandic Skyr with rhubarb, muesli and granite. Skyr is to Iceland what Mascarpone is to Italy and although technically a cheese, the flavour is more like a very thick and creamy Greek yoghurt, but incredibly low fat. I really like this dish as I adore rhubarb and the Skyr’s creamy, yet sharp flavour, works incredibly well with it, finished beautifully with a much needed crunch of Muesli to add texture, which is really what the whole menu is about. The menu is largely straightforward and unpretentious and each dish takes a handful of great ingredients and fuses them together to make something uncomplicated, unfussy but utterly delicious. These are just the kind of things that illustrate exactly why Texture were one of just six restaurants to be awarded a Michelin star this year and deservedly so.

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