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.



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.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Guru Careers: Events Coordinator / Junior Events Planner

    £24K + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an Events Coordinator ...

    Royal Yachting Association Cymru Wales: Chief Executive Officer

    Salary 42,000: Royal Yachting Association Cymru Wales: The CEO is responsible ...

    Guru Careers: Marketing Manager / Marketing Communications Manager

    £35-40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Communicati...

    Ashdown Group: Technical IT Manager - North London - Growing business

    £40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A growing business that has been ope...

    Day In a Page

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
    Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

    Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

    Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
    Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

    Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

    Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
    Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

    Join the tequila gold rush

    The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
    12 best statement wallpapers

    12 best statement wallpapers

    Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
    Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

    Paul Scholes column

    Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?
    Season's finale brings the end of an era for top coaches and players across the continent

    The end of an era across the continent

    It's time to say farewell to Klopp, Clement, Casillas and Xavi this weekend as they move on to pastures new, reports Pete Jenson
    Bin Laden documents released: Papers reveal his obsession with attacking the US and how his failure to keep up with modern jihad led to Isis

    'Focus on killing American people'

    Released Bin Laden documents reveal obsession with attacking United States
    Life hacks: The innovations of volunteers and medical workers are helping Medécins Sans Frontières save people around the world

    Medécins Sans Frontières's life hacks

    The innovations of volunteers and medical workers around the world are helping the charity save people
    Ireland's same-sex marriage vote: As date looms, the Irish ask - how would God vote?

    Same-sex marriage

    As date looms, the Irish ask - how would God vote?
    The underworld is going freelance: Why The Godfather's Mafia model is no longer viable

    The Mafia is going freelance

    Why the underworld model depicted in The Godfather is no longer viable