18 September 2013
It’s strange to turn 41, a rather meaningless age. So instead of getting too side-tracked by all the crap that has happened already on this trip (to be detailed in a subsequent post), I decided to treat myself to a good birthday lunch.
Wanting a solid experience on the north side of central London, I chose the 1-Michelin Texture. I had wanted to try it during my last trip, but it was during the restaurant’s summer break. So I made the short trek towards Marble Arch, dodged the dodgy lot loitering near the station, and arrived in the modern eatery.
Now Nordic chefs have really expanded their profile not just in the region, but all around the world — and Texture, with its Icelandic chef Agnar Sverrisson is no different. I’ve heard excellent things about Texture, so my expectations were reasonably high. After the excellent meal at similarly 1-Michelin Medlar the evening before, I was hoping for the continual change of my luck with Michelin-starred restaurants.
I was seated at a nice corner table by a very efficient staff, and promptly enjoyed a birthday martini to start the day…no better way to do it. After placing my order, using the a la carte menu instead of the lunch menu, the amuse bouche arrived.
This cauliflower-based start was quite cute, and as someone who really likes cauliflower, this was a good start. The flavoured ice was a nice touch for an Icelandic chef.
After switching to a nice white, thanks to the suggestions of the excellent sommelier, my first course was presented.
This presentation of scallops was pretty interesting, served as thinly-sliced ceviche. Now these were extremely nice. I was at first a little conflicted as the passion fruit base was noticeably acidic, and my altesse being surprisingly forceful. However, after the second bite of the scallops, the flavours all came together. Now this worked out extremely well. Now this was a great combination, and the pairing of the Gilles Berlioz wine really sealed the deal.
Now this is what a sommelier at a Michelin-starred restaurant should do — have these amazing pairings that bring out the best of the dish. Very rarely do I sit back and say wow to the pairing and combination, but this was one of them. Easily one of the dishes (and pairings) of the year.
By now I was really happy, and I actually stayed with the altesse for my second course, the Elwy Valley lamb.
The plating was just beautiful, using the veg in a perfect way. The lamb was juicy and tender, and tasted of proper lamb (not the crap we’re served too often and called “lamb”). The combination of best end and shoulder pieces brought out two different sides of the lamb, and it was a perfect balance once again.
This has been a fantastic meal so far, and I was certainly happy this was my birthday lunch. It made me forget most of my current life headaches, as if things were really moving well onto the upside.
Next was a palate-cleanser based on sorrel. Again, the love of ice… And in anticipation of my dessert I ordered something I was surprised to see on the pudding wine list — the Leonardo dessert wine made by Marjan Simčič in Goriška Brda in Slovenia. This is one of the harder-to-get gems of dessert wines, going off-recommendation from the sommelier (who was nodding his approval at my recognition of this beautiful ambrosia). Now this was a heck of a birthday treat, alongside my dessert.
Ah, skyr…I’ve missed you… This wonderful Icelandic yoghurt-ish item is nice and fresh, and the vanilla and berries really added to the overall flavour of this dessert. I’m not a dessert person, as my readers know, but I enjoyed this — even more with that beautiful glass of Leonardo…
After that voluminous and excellent meal, I was spent — and had no room for this cute closer. I have to say this is one of the best birthday lunches I’ve ever had — definitely better than last year’s dodgy sandwich at Longyearbyen Airport!
Texture is an excellent restaurant well deserving of its 1-Michelin star. In fact, it probably deserves a second, for its excellent service, fantastic food, and expert sommelier. It’s better than most 2-star restaurants I’ve been to, and it’s helped redeem the reputation of Michelin-starred restaurants in my eyes.
34 Portman Street