Saturday, 10 March 2012

Texture, London

I have just re-discovered some notes scribbled on the train back from London in 2011 of a meal at Texture in London.  So apologies for the brevity, but as this was a very enjoyable meal, I thought it still worthing posting a report here.

Aggi Sverrisson was born in Iceland, where he worked until he moved to England to join Gordon Ramsay's Petrus in 2001, where he was briefly a chef de partie under Marcus Wareing, before moving to Luxembourg in the same year. He didn't stop there long either, as he was back in England in 2002, working at Raymond Blanc's Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons.  Having risen to head chef at Le Manoir, he and Xavier Rousset, Le Manoir's sommelier, left to set up Texture on Portman Street, just off London's Oxford Street. (It's actually within and shares some facilities with the Mostyn Hotel - handy to know if your cab driver looks blankly at you: they just don't seem to keep up with the London restaurant scene these days...)

You climb a few steps from the street and enter a remarkably high-ceilinged room, with a large bar-cum-room divider separating the front champagne bar from the dining room proper.  Right at the back the kitchen is semi-open to the restaurant.  Although it's certainly a very grand dining room, I found it rather cold in atmosphere, something certainly not helped by the huge divider that is the bar, that saps the light out of the room.  For that reason, I'm afraid there are no photographs of the dishes.

I went in just after 2pm on chance, and they were happy to accommodate me, and (to my surprise) even happy for me to order one of the tasting menus.

The meal started with various crisp things (including fish skin) with a yoghurt and barley dip. The dip seemed odd at first - completely novel - but really grew on me, until I decided it was absolutely delicious. Still odd, but delicious.

Bread was very good, with the butter served on pebbles (reminding me of L'Enclume).

The first dish was a mix of prawns (Icelandic of course), tomato snow, gazpacho and sun dried tomato. The star was the prawns, with the other ingredients really not managing to be more than bit part players.

Gravadlax came next. A generous chunk of salmon, which I thought gave a much better balance than the more usual slices. Though the salmon was quite soft-textured: I expected something firmer.  The gravadlax was served with a variety of liquids, purées and an ice (including a very poised horseradish cream), which once the "snow" had started to melt, all rather flowed together into one pool, losing the integrity of the individual flavours.

The next course was roasted langoustine: a single, huge, perfect langoustine. The best ever langoustine I've had.  It was served on a bed of quinoia, with a vegetable nage, baby daikon and some (I think) sea greenery.  A good blend of sweet and earthy. An outstanding dish.

Some exemplary monkfish came next. Superb fish, beautifully cooked. Served with smoked leek, fresh leeks and a vibrant green leek sauce with a liberal sprinkling of tiny girolles.  Excellent dish.

The first dessert was a sauternes sabayon with sorrel granita.  Gorgeous. I also thought the light dusting of cinammon on the sabayon worked very well.

Finally came a white chocolate mousse and ice cream (the no butter, no cream philosophy of Sverrisson doesn't extend to desserts).  Also on the plate was some dill and cucumber: a very odd combination, but one which really worked, producing a delicious dish.

Excellent coffee came with pretty good petits fours. Fisherman's Friend flavoured meringues were a little wimpy; some fairly non-descript chocolates; a lovely pistachio madeleine and a very good passion fruit macaroon.

An interesting wine list: I had half a carafe of 2009 Keller Riesling trocken QbA, which worked well with the food.

My bill came to a somewhat hefty £110, which I don't really begrudge, though it seems at the top end.

Texture on Urbanspoon


Stosie Madi said...

Nice little review Andrew shame no pictures this time said...

All these food faults are not helped by indifferent and inattentive staff that lacks a sense of timing.
To put Texture beside other one star holders is not a fair reflection of the experience, they did not deserve to make the cut for 2013.
But come on, people can’t be foodies and having a real understanding of Michelin rating in the world to say this Texture worth one??

Andrew Stevenson said...

I can't say I found many, if any, "food faults" when I went a couple of years ago. Service was good for me too, especially as I only wandered in on chance after 2pm for lunch.
On the experience of my one meal at Texture, I would not say it was inferior to many 1 Michelin star restaurants. Perhaps my main criticism would be that at times the food felt a little clinical, which might be down to the elimination of cream and butter from most dishes.