Eat Here: Picture RestaurantBy Angelica Malin
It’s the kind of restaurant that seeps cool from its pores.
There’s something about it; a kind of intimacy, a quietness, a sense of familiarity, that makes you feel as if you’re in a 30-somethings dinner party that you weren’t invited to.
Picture is perfect for every mood. We eat at the bar, watching the bartenders whipping up martinis and chatting to diners, and it’s lovely – relaxed, informal, but still suitably chic for the postcode. The lowly-lit restaurant, a stone’s throw from bustling Oxford Circus, is right for anyone – a place you come as a couple, in a group, or even on your own.
In fact, there are tons of solo diners sitting propped up at the plush leather bar with a glass of Pinot and the Sunday Times, eating small plates to themselves, looking perfectly content. I always thinking that’s a solid test of a good restaurant – whether you’d want to dine there alone – and the numbers speak for themselves.
The sheer value of the tasting menu is like nothing I’ve seen in London – the plates are small, but not overly so, and you leave feeling totally content. If you’re looking for a cool new Central London spot, here’s what you need to know:
Picture Restaurant: The Lowdown
The restaurant is the love child of Tom, Colin and Alan, three foodie Londoners who worked together at the Arbutus group. After years of working together, they decided to strike out and open their own restaurant – with the aim of providing an unpretentious place for good food, good company and relaxation. There’s always been a focus on affordability – making sure the food is good value is central to the ethos of restaurant, and you can really feel that.
Picture Restaurant: The Food
The tasting menu is the best way to get a feel for the restaurant’s food, as they showcase their best dishes. We wouldn’t normally recommend tasting menus – they can be overly fussy and poor value – but the one here, at £35 for six courses, is unbelievable value – and unlike anything else you could find in the area.
The food is based around those oh-so-London buzzwords: seasonal, local and sustainable. But here… It works.
There is an attention to detail with spices and herbs; we start with creamy butternut squash soup, spiked with fennel seed, which is velvety and delicious, then grilled broccoli with goats curd and quinoa, which makes you re-think everything you thought you knew about the grain. The focus on detail, from the swirl of creme fraiche on the soup to the crispness of the quinoa with cut through the creamy goats cheese, is total perfection.
By this point, we’ve realised why it’s called ‘picture’ – every plate is its own work of art, each dish a picture-perfect representation of culinary genius. The fish dishes are equally sensational – smoked haddock with puy lentils and white turnip wins for me, although my guest melts for the 28-day aged beef with sweet potato and curly kale.
We both agree that desserts are some of the best we’ve had in years; a rich chocolate mousse with clementine curd and oatmeal biscuit is like a posh, grown-up version of Terry’s Chocolate Orange, in the best possible way, and the almond tart melts in the mouth. All in all, British food done so, so well.
Picture Restaurant: The Verdict
Just… Go. The value of the tasting menu, the chicness of the long room restaurant, the sense of warmth and ease about the place, it’s the kind of place you could lose hours at the bar, drinking wine and catching up with friends. We think it might just end up being your new favourite restaurant.
Picture Restaurant is at 110 Great Portland Street, London, W1W 6PQ