In the midst of all things American, we headed in the opposite direction for a taste of modern Scandinavian. Chef Agnar Sverrisson combines the showmanship of fine cuisine, ingredients of his native Iceland and the craft of simple and pure Nordic food.
To start, we were presented with wafer-thin crisps of parmesan, cod skin and bread with a refreshingly cool, tzatziki style, dip with pearl barley. The cod skin was the best and we felt they should definitely increase the ratio of the skin to bread.
While we waited for our starters, lovely homemade soughdough bread was placed on our table, with a deliciously moreish whipped/aerated ‘butter’ (with a dusting of ash) served on a pebble.
For starters, we had the Organic Scottish Salmon and Norwegian King Crab. Testing Nordic style, we wanted to see what pureness could be created with seafood. I for one, have a tendency to shy away from seafood at fine dining restaurants and stick with the meaty meats through thick and thin; however, we both decided that what better
plaice place (sorry) to opt for fish/shellfish than at an establishment that has to offer a tasting menu entirely dedicated to seafood.
The Organic Scottish Salmon was as fresh as it looked. Inspired by the classic Scandinavian dish Graflax, all the components brought something fresh and different with each bite. There was the lightly cured salmon that was soft and velvety against the crispy granary bread and crunchy pickled cucumber, combined with the coolness of the ice and heat of the horseradish, which of course all add different textures & tastes.
The Norwegian King Crab tasted like the sea on a plate. Again, the use of ice, the pickled ginger, the shimeji-like mushroom tops and the sweet yet bitter taste of the raw crunchy baby pak choi leaves all added different dimensions to the dish. My only nagging concern was that, blimey, there isn’t a lot of crab on this dish to be worth £24!
For mains, we had the Icelandic Lightly Salted Cod and the Cornish Sea Bass.
The Lightly Salted Cod was served with diced pickles and capers – the perfect compliment to the white meaty fish and the small delicate prawns. A barley risotto and a shellfish jus finished the dish.
The Cornish Sea Bass was another sublime taste of the sea. Served with mussels and scallops, the dish was a seafood lover’s dream. The fish was complimented by an array of sea vegetables including monk’s beard and finished with a light savoury bonito broth that brought all the individual elements together.
The pre-dessert was a blood orange granita served with an zingy/fizzy ‘sabayon’, which acted as a perfect palette cleanser.
For dessert, we shared what is simply called Coconut. The dish was constructed around a slice of coconut cake accompanied by a smooth milk ice cream, an intense chocolate ‘ganache’, biscuits and smears of coconut sauce – divine; although next time with suitably stretchy clothing, I would also opt for the signature Icelandic skyr.
The sprinkling of ash (?), the freshness of cucumbers, the lack of rich butters/creams and the different textures are common motifs running through the dishes. Each plate is refreshing and certainly modern. Despite being priced near the top end (I’m not going to lie, it hurt a little handing my credit card over), we would love to come back. The set lunch menu is considerably better value for money though, so if you get a chance to go, we’d recommend opting for that to get the experience for a fraction of the price.
Thanks to Sverrisson, we’re off to find more Nordic food.
30 Portman Square
Lond W1H 7BY