Harden's survey result
Aggi Sverrisson’s “sublime”, Icelandic-inspired cuisine – in particular “a refreshing and very imaginative twist on fish” – again wins one of the survey’s highest food-ratings for his well-established flagship, just off Portman Square. To the odd reporter, the low-key space (actually part of a hotel, although you only find out when you look for the WC) can seem “dull and cold”, but most reporters like the fact that “there’s something a bit different about the style of the place”. “Very warm and welcoming” service only adds to its refreshingly un-poncy approach.
“Unbelievable… everything was magnificent!” – Aggi Sverrisson’s “more-than-first-class” venture (now over ten years old) is a showcase for his truly “superb” Scandi-inspired cooking paired with an outstanding wine selection, too. “Service is occasionally hit and miss but mostly good”. Top Tip – don’t miss the fish tasting menu here.
“Packed with clean Icelandic flavours and textures and presented as works of art” – Aggi Sverrisson’s “Scandi-inspired” dishes, married to a list of “fabulous New World wines” have won a major reputation for this “smart” and “well-spaced” (if somewhat “low key”) ten-year-old, off the foyer of a hotel near Selfridges (but with its own dedicated entrance).
|Wine per bottle||£45.00|
An ambitious newcomer, just north of Oxford Street, where the personal touch of the co-owners - an ex-Manoir head chef and sommelier - is much in evidence; while we were charmed by the service (and wines), we were not convinced that the strikingly-plated dishes lived up to their high prices.
Texture is an under-appreciated part of the dining experience - that's the culinary credo of this airy new spot, just north of Oxford Street. It sounds as if it might be a bit pretentious, but with Agnar Sverisson - formerly head chef of Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons - in charge of the kitchen, this is clearly an endeavour that demands to be taken seriously.
This is not, however, a place that's serious in the grave sense of the word. In fact, the mainly French staff are all very charming, and they do not take themselves at all au sérieux. Manager Xavier Rousset also comes with Manoir heritage: he was formerly head sommelier there, and an apparently genuine delight in wine seems to run through the entire operation.
The setting - in an elegant Adam-style room - is pleasant too. Airy and understated, the 'feel' of the place is quite unusual. Such lofty chambers, however, are difficult to organise as restaurants in a way which feels quite natural for contemporary tastes, and we're not entirely sure they've pulled it off here. When you book, we'd suggest you try for a banquette.
But back to the food. Sverisson has not only worked at the Manoir - where the style is essentially classical - but also, albeit briefly, at the very highly-regarded El Celler de San Roca, in Spain. The presentation at Texture makes it clear that Sverisson's heart is in the school-of-El-Bulli style he saw there. His cooking is of the variety where each plate is a work of art. Where pre-conceptions are challenged. And where the expectations engendered by the arrival of each plate are high.
And we certainly enjoyed pretty much everything we ate, but the thing that really sticks in our mind...? Was unfortunately the cheese course. That piece of mature Gouda really was exceptional. That seems unkind, almost gratuitously unkind to a chef who's clearly putting a lot of love and care in, but our recollection of the other dishes - and we must have sampled eight or nine - is frankly rather tenuous. Oh yes, that boiled egg with crispy bacon was fun, but at no point did we really pause for a moment of pure culinary pleasure. Perhaps we were unlucky, but our lunch for two cost £180, and we couldn't honestly say we thought it was worth it.
34 Portman St, London, W1H 7BY
|Tuesday||5:30 pm‑10:30 pm|
|Wednesday||5:30 pm‑10:30 pm|
|Thursday||12 pm‑2:30 pm, 5:30 pm‑10:30 pm|
|Friday||12 pm‑2:30 pm, 5:30 pm‑10:30 pm|
|Saturday||12 pm‑2:30 pm, 5:30 pm‑10:30 pm|