One of the newly elevated one stars in this year’s UK Michelin guide, Texture has an impeccable pedigree.
It’s run by two alumni of Raymond Blanc’s Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons in Oxford, former sommelier Xavier Rousset and chef Agnar (Aggi) Sverrisson, thus pressing two fashionable buttons, wine and Nordic cuisine.
Sverrisson becomes the first Icelandic chef to hold a Michelin star.
First impressions, it has to be said, are not favourable. The restaurant operates a curious site on the corner of Portman Square which looks like – and for all I know may be – a ballroom, converted into a restaurant via a previous incarnation as an office.
It’s not really the place for a Champagne bar (situated in the front) though it’s certainly the place to drink Champagne: the 90-bin list is spectacular and mark-ups are modest by London standards.
It’s also the place to go to enjoy one of the best value set price lunches in London: £18.50 for 2 courses, £22 for three.
On our visit the choice included an intricate and beautiful dish of smoked Icelandic line-caught haddock with confit leeks, mustard and soft boiled egg, suckling pig belly and cheek with quince and celeriac and Icelandic Skyr with rhubarb granite and muesli (the kitchen doesn’t use any butter or cream).
We also road-tested elements of the Scandinavian fish tasting menu, a more costly £52.50, which included a stellar dish of poached halibut with Jerusalem artichoke ‘textures’ (pictured), the perfect foil for an opulent glass of 2005 Meursault Les Criots, Ballot-Millot suggested by the sparky Swedish sommelier Erika Laler.
Wine matching is facilitated by an excellent wine by the glass list, many – like the Meursault – with decent bottle age.
Other stand-out combinations were a 2005 Ostertag Heissenberg Riesling with the smoked haddock and a peachy 2006 Chateau Bouscasse Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh Brumaire from Alain Brumont with a lovely light mango and pineapple soup flavoured with lemongrass and basil.
If you want to play around with wine pairings this is the place to do it.
Texture well deserves its Michelin star and arguably a second. I’ve had less impressive, sure-footed meals in Michelin two stars – but that’s the mystery of Michelin, which seems to operate bizarrely different standards from country to country and from London to the provinces.
Not that Texture will care. Business, Rousset told me, is up over 30% since their award a few weeks ago. And it deserves to be.
Texture is at 34 Portman Square, London W1H 7BY. Tel: +44 (0)20 7224 0028
Written by Fiona Beckett