In 2007, after nearly three years of planning, Agnar opened his restaurant Texture. Months later, Texture was named New Restaurant of the Year by The Independent and its Michelin star came in 2010. It also holds four AA rosettes, as well as a variety of other impressive accolades.
Agnar describes the food at Texture as 'modern European with Scandinavian influences' and as the name suggests, there is a focus on 'combining and emphasising different consistencies'. The very best seasonal British produce is at the heart of his cuisine, which is more rustic and closer to nature in its unfussy presentation than the fine dining of Agnar's past. While it isn't an Icelandic restaurant, there are subtle hints of the country's influence, with ingredients from his native land such as lamb, cod, langoustine, skyr (a cultured dairy product like yoghurt) and wild herbs sprinkled throughout the menu. Traditional Nordic techniques such as salting cod also make an appearance, but they are used with a judicious hand. The food is light and healthy, with no cream or butter used in the menu, and the flavours are clean and pure.
Seafood is a speciality, accounting for around two-thirds of the menu – Raymond Blanc has described his restaurant as being 'to fish what St John is to offal' – with plates such as Icelandic cod loin with cod brandade, avocado relish and chorizo, and Skate with barley risotto, prawns and Sauternes sauce. Vegetables are also celebrated at Texture and the restaurant features vegetarian tasting menus with dishes such as English beetroot with goat cheese snow, oat biscuits and mizuna and Cauliflower textures (florets, pickles, ‘couscous’, purée) with quinoa and barley. Meats are also represented by popular dishes like Anjou quail with bacon popcorn and corn purée and Beef fillet and cheeks with horseradish purée, olive oil sabayon and a red wine jus.
In 2010, Agnar opened 28º– 50º Fetter Lane in Holborn, a wine bar and restaurant which serves a relaxed modern European menu, features thirty wines available by the glass and offers a programme of wine tastings, workshops and themed dinners. A second branch, 28º– 50º Marylebone Lane, in Marylebone followed in 2012 and a third, 28º– 50º Maddox Street, in Mayfair in 2013.
Although Texture very much remains his focus – there is a separate executive chef, Ben Mellor, at his wine bars – Agnar is still involved in the menus and his time with Raymond shines through. Dishes such as salmon gravlax and twenty-eight-day aged rib eye steak with béarnaise sauce highlight the modern European inflection of the menu.
Despite his role as head chef at Le Manoir, Agnar was previously little known. But he has finally made a name for himself as a highly skilled and accomplished chef, as well as an astute and successful business owner with four establishments (and counting) under his belt. His creativity and technical skill ensure intense, unadulterated flavours grace every plate that leaves his kitchen and the rustic influence of Nordic cuisine continues to dazzle.
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