It feels like I’ve been playing it a little too mainstream with my food choices lately; I’ve been craving something refreshing and original to shake things up from the Italian, French and British cuisine I’ve been predominantly experiencing.
After running a few errands in Central London, I happened to walk right into Texture. At this stage the only information I had about this restaurant was: a vague recollection of a strong rating on Google, an intriguing set of tasting menus posted outside next to reviews from respected individuals such as the world renowned Raymond Blanc, an indication of a Michelin star, and an intriguing glass door with smoothed, tree-branch handles. I had to go in.
I was pleased to see that even without a reservation they would be able to accommodate me with a table for one. We got off to a shaky start when they showed me to their worst table: a table for one in a back corner which provided better visibility of the kitchen than the restaurant or decor. Classic treatment of a single/solo diner, and a little disappointing. But I didn’t hesitate to speak up and, fortunately, I was shown to a table in their main dining area.
It was from here that I could fully appreciate the typically Scandinavian decor: clean, muted colours, minimalist but without being stark and cold – even with the leafless trees. It was actually warm and soothing: it’s that feeling you get after you Marie Kondo your home (or, perhaps more aptly, practice the Danish art of hygge: same difference really; the latter is a bit more Scandi). Even the pillows that are there are few and strategically placed and designed for an actual functional use: they fit perfectly to support the curve of your lower back while you’re seated in the firm seats.
The crowd, funnily enough, matched the decor: the customers appeared to be well-to-do, upper middle class types that ranged in age from thirty-something to senior age, all dressed in a subtle but elegant and refined manner. Like the restaurant, no one was particularly loud in sound OR in dress style; it’s what I like to call the difference between old money and new money, for those that understand the difference.
We now get to my favourite part: the feast! I had no idea what delights awaited me. Sure, I had perused the various tasting menus outside (these included lunch, a la carte, fish, vegan and possibly one more; there were many options), but half of the treats that were brought to me were not even on the menu. The first was the collection of crisps served with seasoned Icelandic skyr (like a mild yoghurt). But these were not your average crisps! The assorted variety included flavours such as rye crisps, squid ink and Parmesan, dried cod skin, potato and cumin flavoured. You might not be surprised that they all had their own unique textures as well (an aptly named restaurant).
Another treat followed shortly: two types of bread (a sourdough and a cumin-flavoured kind with a texture similar to soda bread) served warm, with two kinds of olive oil (a light one from Northern Spain, and a deeper one from Andalucia with a little spicy kick to it). They were served with some Icelandic, charcoal-activated sea salt which enhanced the flavours of the olive oil beautifully.
This was then followed by an amuse bouche of artichoke soup with hazelnuts and black truffle. Very flavourful, the truffle flavour was present but delicate and not overpowering. Mind you, this in some ways, was already the third ‘course’ and we hadn’t yet begun with the actual menu selections.
My starter arrived shortly after the amuse bouche: a Thai vegetable salad – with coconut, cashew nuts, root vegetables, mint, ginger and a fish dressing – that had intrigued me for its use of pomelo. I adore pomelo: it reminds me of trips to Thailand and living in Asia where it was far easier to come across. In fact, this was the first time I’d seen it as a restaurant item in London – which is one of the reasons I was intrigued to try Texture. You can see for yourself (below), the salad was beautiful. The vegetables were fully but not overly cooked to the perfect texture, the flavours were beautifully Asian and light. My only critique would be that I had to really hunt for the cashews, of which I found probably the equivalent of crumbs for a third of a cashew (I would have liked to have this flavour a little more prominent), and I felt the fish dressing – the creamy fish dressing – was a little out of place for me. The rest of the salad was light and refreshing; the thick texture of the cream didn’t feel right to me, even if there wasn’t a large amount. I’d have preferred to see lighter base for the dressing. But it really was as delicious as it was beautiful and I enjoyed every bite.
For the main dish I ordered duck confit with celeriac and cranberries – and it was amazing in every way. The duck was cooked perfectly and was surprisingly delicate; the celeriac was smooth and creamy; the cranberries – which can be quite tart – were not at all overpowering and well-balanced. BUT, my goodness, the drama! I never could have imagined the theatrical presentation: it was served in two stages. The first was the duck leg presented in a woodland-themed ‘stage’ of sorts, with smoke coming out of the ‘ground’; the second was the rest of the duck, celeriac and cranberries on a beautifully plated dish. Particularly as this was my first time here, this most definitely provided a ‘wow’ factor I haven’t experienced in years.
Upon completion of the main course, I was served a beautifully bright palate cleanser of skyr and textures of blood orange. Sweet and tart, textures included jelly, frozen and granita-like. It was a delight for the tongue, not to mention refreshing. Perfect.
The theme of my dessert was coconut, and it was prepared three ways: as a parfait with delicate shards of chocolate on the side (visually mimicking a coconut shell; clever), coconut cake, and coconut ice cream. The dish was served with sweet-tart, diced pineapple, and the coconut cake was served warm, which meant that upon arrival of the dish I was hit by an irresistibly tempting aroma. It was a wonderful dessert: I could taste the texture of fresh coconut in the parfait and the cake so that it was more than just a light flavouring but a true celebration of the coconut. The ice cream? It was surprisingly light and airy. And as beautiful as it was to smell and taste, it was a feast for the eyes as well (below).
By this point in the meal I was more than full, and an espresso to aid digestion was more than called for. What I hadn’t expected was that it would be served with yet another woodland-themed ‘stage’ with accompanying petit fours.
The espresso was pretty good, but it was just a touch too ‘long’ for me – but again, that’s the Italian in me. The petit fours were unexpected and so I hesitate to critique to a degree, but this is the only part of the meal that was a bit hit-and-miss:
- The madeleine was warm and delicious;
- The mini merengue was too small to have that soft, chewy middle that comes with a typical merengue so it was just crispy. Although, it did have an unexpected minty flavour; had I known I would have saved it for the end.
- The chocolate truffle had an unexpected gooey caramel centre which was a welcome surprise, while the chocolate itself was rich and intense as it should be;
- The rosewater macaron was stronger in colour than flavour; I couldn’t make one out. However, it was chewy just as you’d hope it would be: the textures were spot on.
When it comes to service, it was fantastic: cordial, attentive and prompt. Every meal was introduced properly and in sufficient detail, and I appreciated that I was always asked my opinion upon completion of every course in a way that suggested there was genuine interest in my answer. Even upon departure, I was sent off with warm wishes and left with a smile on my face as a result.
Texture deserves its Michelin star unreservedly. When I think I feasted on what was one of the most memorable meals in months (at least) for £39.90 plus gratuity, it boggles the mind – it takes an awful lot to find better value for money. And finally, it was so nice to enjoy something refreshingly original, unique and different from the frequent and common cuisines so easily found elsewhere in London. It was a stellar experience and I look forward to returning in the future.
*Calories… I gave it a real try to come up with an estimated figure for all this food. I came up with 1444, plus or minus about 10%. But I didn’t finish my crisps or eat more than half the bread. Basically, if you don’t have breakfast or dinner you can have this meal guilt-free… and there is certainly enough food served for that to be possible!
Food taste: 4 / 5 (It was delicious, and extra points for original flavours; a couple of minor points mentioned are reflected in the score.)
Food/table presentation: 4.7 / 5 (I can’t recall anywhere in recent memory making a bigger impact )
Service: 4 / 5 (Great service; shame about the table assignment at the start)
Atmosphere/decor: 4.5 / 5 (Well considered design in which the decor and the dishes mirror each other and the Scandinavian roots of the restaurant)
Value for money: 4.5 / 5 (Excellent value for money)
Overall rating: 4.3 / 5