If ever a restaurant embodies its name, this is it. A true exploration of taste and, of course, texture. If I were to list all the ingredients from just one dish I would probably exceed my word count. The staff are efficient and courteous, without being over-friendly, the bar is gorgeous: creams and browns of wood and suede with a glamorous edge, and every table in the bar area comes with its own ice bucket in the centre, both convenient – and potentially embarrassing! The focus is champagne at Texture and my house champagne cocktail was delicately infused with lemongrass and ginger, the perfect aperitif. The bacon popcorn we were brought wasn’t particularly impressive but the plate of crisps: potato, parmesan, baguette and cod skin, accompanied by a wasabi and lettuce emulsion and a yoghurt dip, was interesting and moreish, and set the tone for the rest of our evening.
The dining area is as coolly sophisticated as the bar, with more pale and dark wood (actual branches included), glass and some gorgeous paintings of fjords at sunset. It pays homage to the head chef’s Icelandic background, as does the menu, from the personal introduction written at the beginning, to the ingredients chosen. An enormous bookcase holding wines separates the dining area from the kitchen and while the specialty of Texture is champagne, their wine list is impressive and the sommelier chose a perfect bottle for us.
Texture offers regular, fish or vegetarian tasting menus as well as the option to order a la carte. The care taken with ingredients is clear as soon as we sit down. Our fingers were drawn to the plate hosting some Brittany butter, Italian extra virgin olive oil and the smoothest olive tapenade to accompany the never-ending offerings of bread. From the appetizer of Wing Skate puree, fennel sorbet and fennel salad, every dish included at least three ingredients offering distinctly different experiences in the mouth – hot, cold, crunchy, aerated… While I’ve eaten meals at other restaurants that add a foam or a drizzle of glaze and seem to believe this makes the meal a masterpiece, the addition of each ingredient seemed well thought out and complementary to the others, melding into one incredible mouthful after another. The only exceptions were the frequent appearance of cress and cashews and some squid and bonito sauce that appeared an odd accompaniment for suckling pig.
It’s difficult to select highlights from so many superb courses, but the most memorable included salmon served three ways with wakame, pak choy, a poached quail’s egg and so much more; tender pigeon cuts served with sweetcorn, corn mousse and a red wine jus; and a smoking pre-dessert of red and yellow grapefruit, white chocolate and olive oil mousse, lemon sorbet and caramelised olives.
The piece de resistance for me was the tray of petit fours (after two desserts, this is totally my kind of restaurant). We were directed on the order to devour these, starting with the most delicious still-warm madeleines and finishing with fisherman’s friend lollipops. Writing this has made me hungry to eat it all over again. I see from their website that less than a week later the menu has already changed a little. I won’t have to wait to long to go again for a whole new experience. Excellent.
Texture Restaurant: 34 Portman Street, London, W1H 7BY.
Tel: 020 7224 0028.
Reviewer: Jennifer Earle.