As a PR by day, I often get the great privilege of eating out with contacts in the industry, many of which are journalists (hence how Jack and I became acquainted). This means that I often find myself around the Great Portland Street area, where several large media outlets are based nearby. This is how I came across Picture, just by searching for places in the vicinity. I have to confess that I am writing this review a couple of months after I visited, but I think it is still worthwhile sharing as I very much enjoyed my experience there.
On arrival (bearing in mind that it was August), the whole of the front of the restaurant was opened up and reminded me of many of the cafes and bars in Spain or Greece. I was welcomed by a very friendly person at the podium and taken through to the back of the restaurant to wait for my fellow diners at the table.
When I’m out for lunch, unless I am drinking a glass of wine or sangria, you can pretty much count on the fact that I will order a Diet Coke. However, Picture had an interesting concept at the top of its seasonal menu, it was offering watermelon lemonade – something that instantly grabbed my attention. I can tell you now that since that day I haven’t drunk anything quite as refreshing as that home-made lemonade – it was absolutely perfect! It was a still drink with lots of watermelon juice and the hint of sharpness from lemons. I know that the seasonal menu has now changed so this is no longer available as far as I am aware (insert sad face here). The menu is tasting dish style, although a set three course menu is available for £15/pp at lunch or a six course tasting menu for £35/pp in the evening.
Here are the dishes we tucked into, with three of us trying food, one being a piscatorial, hopefully this review will be thorough and well-balanced:
- Lamb bites (order by individual pieces) – these were little meatballs full of rich seasoning, a kind of amuse bosh as such
- Chilled plum and tomato soup – serve up in gorgeous china bowls, this soup is on par with some of the best gazpachos I have tasted. I was light, refreshing, strong in flavour, simple yet tasty and came with a swirl of pesto at the top
- Ravioli of Italian greens and ricotta, chilli, soft herbs – this was not one of my favourite dishes that we tried as it didn’t deliver the same flavour punch as many of the others. That’s not to say that it wasn’t nice, there was a lot of the garnish and the hint of chilli added depth, I just found I wanted more from it, as I often do with pasta dishes
- Slow cooked squid, tomato, courgette smoked paprika – this dish had to be my favourite of everything we tried. Squid is something that is so easy to get wrong and so many restaurants do, but Picture has it on the money! I could happily eat this plate of joy many times over and probably would have if there weren’t so many other things to try. The squid was cooked perfectly – soft yet not mushy and the whole dish was a fiesta of flavours that had me reminiscing of meals on the Catalonian coast
- Ceviche of sea bream, cucumber, sea lettuce – one of my fellow diners is a big fan of ceviche and this was the dish that she anticipated the most. With fresh bursts of acidic fish and the cucumber, this dish was very palate cleansing and the type of dish that makes you feel healthy even as you eat it! Her only complaint was that it should have been bigger so she could enjoy more
- Rare beef , English pea and heritage carrot – having only just become a beef-eater (after not enjoying the taste whilst growing up), I am still a little cautious when it comes to this meat and still don’t enjoy all types. This dish, however, didn’t disappoint. The meat was cooked well-enough that there was no blood dripping on the plate but little enough that the meat still have a beautiful colour as you cut it open and the cut was very juicy and tender. The English vegetables matched the meat flawlessly and all of a sudden I was transported to an English stately manor instead of my visions of the Med
- Elwy Valley lamb – one of my fellow diners assured my that this dish was also good, although not quite as perfect as the beef. The cauliflower and cumin accompaniment was very tasty, a combination of flavours that I think would work extremely well as a winter soup (winter menu dish?)
- Lebanese fried chicken – after reviewing Joe’s Southern Kitchen previously I’m afraid no fried chicken has yet matched up to their offering, but this wasn’t too far off of it. It wasn’t greasy, was nice and crispy and there was a delicious flavoured mayonnaise to accompany too
- Crisp pressed pork, bbq sauce, watermelon – who in their right mind would combine bbq sauce and watermelon right? Wrong! This combination was absolutely magic as both elements matched the pork amazingly. The meat itself was similar in texture to pork belly, but without the fatty texture – heaven on a plate!
- Fries and aioli – the staple side dish at Picture, can’t say it was the best of this dish that I’ve had, but serves as a good palate cleanser between dishes and also helps to fill you up more if you have a big appetite
Stupidly I failed to take a picture of our desserts but they were both really great. I had a blueberry and almond pie, not so much a heavy pie but more a light and fluffy cake-like substance with yoghurt ice cream. The fruit inside and yoghurty accompaniment made it feel almost healthy to eat and I soon devoured every sticky, sweet morsel. My dining companion doesn’t have too much of a sweet tooth so opted for the cheeses, a selection of English, Irish and Scottish cheese. They were strong and powerful that’s for sure, but we both tucked in to them. Served up with nicely textured crackers and a grape and celery chutney, a great balance of flavours for those who prefer to end their meal on a savoury note. We accompanied these by pots of tea, English breakfast for one and peppermint for the other.
Picture is a great restaurant for good-quality tasting plates in a relaxed environment. The menu, whilst not exactly cheap, also beats many of other outlets in its category and wins over most for having great staff, a relaxed environment and genuinely tasty and fairly understated food. The dishes on the menu average around £7 each and desserts £4 each, unless you opt for one of the set menus.
110 Great Portland Street, W1W 6PQ
0207 637 7892
Open for lunch (12pm-3pm) and dinner (5pm-10:30pm), Monday to Saturday
For more information visit: http://www.picturerestaurant.co.uk
The current menu can be found here: http://www.picturerestaurant.co.uk/index.php/menus/food-menu
Picture is currently taking Christmas bookings, get in contact with them for more information.