Texture: Want to experience the future of gastronomy? It's there for the tasting at the Nordic-influenced Texture

Texture, 34 Portman Square, London W1, 020 7224 0028

They used to say never trust a skinny chef. Now you can't trust a fat one. We are witnessing a sea-change in gastronomy; gone is the cream and butter, foie gras and rich, fat-laden charcuterie. In their place come the concentrated flavours of highly seasonal produce and new techniques such as gels, mousses and foams that give us flavour without the fat. Portions are smaller, presentation simpler and the effect on the body lighter.

Chefs such as René Redzepi of Noma in Copenhagen, Sergio Herman of Oud Sluis in the Netherlands, and Alain Passard of Arpège in Paris have been advocating this lighter eating for some time. Now Agnar Sverrisson enters the fray with his own Nordic-influenced cuisine.

In his new-as-paint Marble Arch restaurant, the Icelandic former senior chef of Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons has gone back to his roots with a menu representing the icy-clean flavours of northern Europe without the pickled-herring clichés. So Icelandic cod is served with avocado purée and chorizo; Icelandic lamb comes with a broth of barley and root vegetables; and pan-fried scallops accompany a variety of "cauliflower textures".

The extremely textural appetiser of paper-thin crisps, fashioned from cod skin, potato and seaweed bread, evokes memories of Redzepi's Noma, coming here with dips of herbed yoghurt and puffed barley, and a vibrant green wasabi and gem-lettuce mousse.

There is a lightness and texture in the décor as well as the cooking. Sverrisson and co-owner Xavier Rousset, the former sommelier at Le Manoir, have transformed Deya, a flamboyant Indian, into an understated, confident space of white walls and milky coffee tones, punctuated by vivid paintings by Icelandic artist Thorlakur Morthens. A large, relaxed champagne bar gets all the views on to Portman Street, with the restaurant feeling a little divorced from the action.

The first course of tomato and artichoke textures is a riff of bits and bobs of confited, roasted, dried and raw tomatoes and artichokes strewn with flower petals and baby green leaves. It looks lightweight, but flavours are focused and it's a joy to eat. Cornish crab with champagne dressing and pickled girolles is a more conventional dish on the surface, with all sorts of tongue-tingling complexity lurking behind the freshness of the crab.

Rousset's wine list is massive, running to 420 wines, including a 1992 Petrus for £1,300. Back in the real world, a meaty, mouth-filling 2005 Akarua The Gullies (£39) is everything that is good about New Zealand Pinot Noir.

Suckling pig may not sound terribly healthy, but Sverrisson's slow-cooked Lancashire piglet is rich in finesse and flavour while being small in portion. The addition of little puddles of baby cabbage, squid legs and jellied noodles taste, surprisingly, like natural companions. There is also a gnarled, fossilised clump of pork crackling that pushes the crunchy texture idea too far.

Icelandic cod gets the full glamour treatment, roasted until it peels off into tender, juicy lobes, and teamed with delicately crisp olive bread, chorizo-studded coco beans, and a swirl of brandade and avocado purée.

A dessert of cereals, seeds, raspberries and breathtakingly good milk sorbet is a chic rework of my breakfast, followed by a polished array of petits fours.

There is something rather dreamlike about Texture. Textbook tall, slim staff glide from table to table. The cooking, while technically complex, appears effortless and the flavours pure. In spite of the generosity with little accompaniments throughout, I don't feel force-fed at all.

Texture is proof that gastronomy is changing to accommodate people who love good food but don't want to be punished by it.

16/20

SCORES: 1-9 STAY HOME AND COOK 10-11 NEEDS HELP 12 OK 13 PLEASANT ENOUGH 14 GOOD 15 VERY GOOD 16 CAPABLE OF GREATNESS 17 SPECIAL, CAN’T WAIT TO GO BACK 18 HIGHLY HONOURABLE 19 UNIQUE AND MEMORABLE 20 AS GOOD AS IT GETS

Texture, 34 Portman Square, London W1, tel: 020 7224 0028. Lunch and dinner Tues-Sat. Set price £45 per person for three courses (lunch, all dishes £8.50)

Second Helpings: More Nordic dining

Kro Piccadilly

One Piccadilly Gardens, Manchester, tel: 0161 244 5765

Lorne Andersen brings a northern flavour to the newest branch of the Kro group, with pickled salmon, frikadeller meatballs and Danish open sandwiches.

Upper Glas

First Floor, The Mall, 359 Upper Street, London N1, tel: 020 7359 1932

Last year, Anna Mosesson relocated her popular Borough Market restaurant to this airy first-floor space. All the Swedish classics are here, from smoked venison to gravadlax and pickled herring.

Nordic Bakery

14 Golden Square, London W1, tel: 020 3230 1077

Jali Wahlsten's stylish Soho café provides a perfect snapshot of Finnish café life, complete with salmon-on-rye sandwiches, cinnamon buns and the finest ( and biggest) caffè latte.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
News
people
Life and Style
President Obama, one of the more enthusiastic users of the fist bump
science
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Griffin holds forth in The Simpsons Family Guy crossover episode
tv
Life and Style
Upright, everything’s all right (to a point): remaining on one’s feet has its health benefits – though in moderation
HealthIf sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
News
Kristen Stewart and Rupert Sanders were pictured embracing in 2012
people
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    C++ Software Engineer - Hounslow, West London - C++ - to £60K +

    £40000 - £60000 per annum + Pension, Healthcare : Deerfoot IT Resources Limite...

    VB.NET and C# developer (VB.NET,C#,ASP.NET)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: VB.NET a...

    Visitor Experience volunteer

    Unpaid voluntary role: Old Royal Naval College: To assist the Visitor Experien...

    Telesales Manager. Paddington, London

    £45-£55k OTE £75k : Charter Selection: Major London International Fashion and ...

    Day In a Page

    A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

    A new Russian revolution

    Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
    Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

    Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

    The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
    Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

    Standing my ground

    If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

    Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

    Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
    Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

    Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

    The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
    The man who dared to go on holiday

    The man who dared to go on holiday

    New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

    Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

    For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
    The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

    The Guest List 2014

    Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
    Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

    Jokes on Hollywood

    With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
    It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

    It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

    Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
    Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

    Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

    Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
    Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

    Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

    Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
    Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

    Edinburgh Fringe 2014

    The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
    Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

    Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

    The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried