Friday, 9 August 2013

Picture Restaurant, Great Portland Street

Tucked away behind the bustle of Oxford Street, Picture was opened by three chaps who met while working with the Arbutus Group. A blink-and-you'll-miss-it frontage, the menu is a mish-mash of cuisines; at a first look you might take it for the current trendy lot of small-plates-no-booking, but you'd be at least partially wrong.

I'm not exactly sure why they called it so, but the bland name isn't reflective of the food. The space inside is airy and bright; pick of the tables seemed to be by the bar, or the high seats we sat at just next to it. They were of the comfortable bucket sort, the type you can sit in for hours without losing sensation in a bum cheek. I tested this theory out.

Between 6 of us we ordered just about everything on the menu, doubling up on most dishes. Chilled red pepper and tomato soup was served in pretty colourful little cups and garnished with herby oils and crunchy things. Lamb bites with aioli were fried crisply, a little chilli relish within, and the meat flavoursome and tender. So far, pretty great. 

Pork belly was served as two crisp slices; where my picture might make it look a little dry, it was anything but. The fat was generous, the meat flavoursome, and I'm drooling a little at the memory. A tangy barbecue sauce accompanied it, with some essential palate-cleansing cubes of watermelon. 

Salmon was a beauty of a dish, with the fish rolled into a perfect cylinder. It sat on a bed of wafer-thin slices of courgette, crisp artichokes decorating the dish and topped with an intense black olive tapenade and a fish skin crisp. I find salmon can be a very rich fish, but in this preparation, lightly poached so it was translucent inside, I had no problems with finishing it off. Less successful was the bream ceviche. Served with seaweed and a cucumber foam, there was nothing really 'ceviche' about it - it was lacking in any citrus, the texture of the foam / mousse slightly jarring. 

We were back on track with the slow-cooked egg with mushroom marmalade, though. Earthy mushrooms cooked down into sweet intensity nestled at the bottom of the dish to hold the slow-cooked egg - on top, more mushrooms, raw and thinly shaved. It was incredibly satisfying to pierce that mound, the yolk spilling. Ravioli with Italian greens and ricotta, lemon and chilli was also a lovely dish, with silky pasta and bitter greens offsetting the creaminess of the ricotta well. I doubt vegetarians could have too much to complain about here; a simple tomato salad with blobs of some sort of cheese also impressed. 

Pretty enough to perhaps turn a vegetarian, rare roast beef with coco beans and carrots was rather wintry for my tastes (it was 30 degrees that day...) though the meat was perfectly cooked and seasoned, the vegetables flavoursome. 

The Lebanese fried chicken is not to be missed, though. A salty, crunchy, crisp exterior with juicy meat within, it's as perfect to fried chicken as one could get. As stuffed as we were, we even tried to order more. A little more of the yoghurty pomegranate seed sauce might have done us well, though the aioli that was served with the McDonald's-esque (and that is no bad thing) fries sufficed well.

By now I was too stuffed, my eyes rolling a little to have remembered to take any pictures of the dessert so you'll have to take my word for it that the blueberry almond tart was a pretty little thing. The Kentish mangos with pannacotta and crumble probably could have been replaced with another, more flavoursome mango (the Alphonso is currently in season, I believe). The chocolate mousse with honeycomb and raspberries though was fantastic; light, airy, yet rich mousse with a sharp burst of berry and the teeth-sticking crunch of honeycomb.

This small plate dining concept means that the bill, invariably, racks up quickly but actually the dishes we had were all good value and I never felt short-changed. None go over the £9 mark, with most hovering at around £6 or £7. They also have a £15 set lunch 3 course menu, which looks to be pretty great value if the food is anything like the lunch I had. 

The menu changes regularly, and what with it being just a few doors down from my office, I can imagine it being a regular haunt. 

Full set of pics are here

Picture Restaurant
110 Great Portland Street
London W1W 6PQ

Tel: 0207 637 7892

Picture on Urbanspoon   


tehbus said...

Damn these dishes look good. Personally, I have no issue with lots of shared plates. I get to try more, and at £6-7 a dish, you could rack up 4 dishes before it becomes "pricy". Will check it out.

Foodnerd4life said...

The Lebanese fried chicken looks fantastic!

Hollow Legs said...

Euwen - I agree wholeheartedly. Nothing worse than being jealous of someone else's meal.

FoodNerd - and it was!