Ok, I’m not going to lie…we all know I like a glamorous restaurant. Somewhere with fabulous views like City Social
, clubby decor like STK
or a sexy interior like Hakkasan
But, actually the most important thing to me is always the food. Mr Silver will attest to the fact that my moaning is absolutely endless if I haven’t liked the food in a restaurant.
So when I was invited into Picture, a restaurant who’s concept is good food with no pretension, I was looking forward to trying something that clearly be substance over style. For this review I knew I could leave my Herve Leger mini dress and five inch Louboutins at home and I enlisted Susan SilverSpoon (my mum) to join me on the culinary journey.
True to their word, Picture isn’t much to look at from the outside…
…and the inside ain’t pretty either…
At best it resembles a school hall at worst…it has the look of a prison canteen…(not that I’ve ever been in one…)
A solitary orange flower brightens up the table.
And soon Susan SilverSpoon arrives. She’s very happy as she has a new toy, an iPhone 6 plus. I have the new iPhone 6. We order a prosecco and elderflower cocktail and happily compare our new gadgetry.
I personally think her 6 plus is too big, but she loves it as it’s perfect for her to play bridge on (Susan SilverSpoon is a bridge champion) but I’m happy with my more normal sized phone.
The cocktail is gorgeous…the sweetness of the elderflower is tempered by the dry prosecco and we happily sip away on them.
Picture is based on a small plates concept and we order the tasting menu, though we make several substitutions and alter it beyond recognition…but still it means we tried nearly everything on the menu!
The delicious rustic baguettes with whipped butter are enough for us to put out new phones aside and get nibbling on what is in front of us.
A bowl of butternut squash soup was the first course. My mum and I have very similar tastes in food but this is a dish that completely polarises us. Usually she loves it and I hate it. But the soup at Picutre converts me, it’s not overly sweet and creamy like some butternut squash soup. Instead, the flavours are Indian, with a gentle hint of cumin coming through and a light drizzle of yogurt on the top. A great start to the meal.
For the next course, tenderstem broccoli played a starring role, along with plum tomatoes, goats curd and capers. I enjoyed the fact that chef turned the broccoli into a dish in itself rather than it’s usual place as a side dish. The simple ingredients made for a very delicious combination, the vegetable were perfectly charred, the tomatoes juicy and ripe and the curd wonderfully creamy.At this point we took a little detour off the tasting menu. The next course was pork cheek which neither me or my mum fancied.
I chose another vegetarian dish instead: ravioli of Italian greens with ricotta and chilli. The dish was the highlight of the meal for me. I mentioned in my Christmas afternoon tea post that I have a rather unconventional love for brussel sprouts which I was very pleased to see crown the top of my delicious pasta dish.
As you can see from the previous dishes, the menu at Picture doesn’t make use of fancy ingredients (there’s no foie gras or caviar here). But the chef’s Alan Christie and Colin Kelly (previously of Arbutus and Wild Honey) use simple fresh and seasonal ingredients and cook them perfectly to make up these fabulous plates of food. Along with manager, Tom Slegg, the chefs opened the Bloomsbury restaurant with a simple concept of good food without the pressure of fine dining. The simplicity of the menu means it also doesn’t come with Michelin prices and the tasting menu is very good value for money at £35. The quality of the food and value for money meant that Picture was recently awarded a Bib Gourmand in the Michelin guide.
Mother Spoon’s alternative to the pork was a shoulder of lamb with butternut squash and sultanas. A fabulous autumnal dish with perfectly cooked lamb.
Service-wise our waitress was very knowledgable about all the dishes and ingredients used and the substitutions were no problem at all.
I sampled their other house cocktail, champagne, mixed with gin and berries. I preferred the first one but this was definitely nice too! My mum doesn’t like having her picture taken but I sneaked her into the corner of this one!
The next course was a favourite of mine: sea bream served with lentils, fennel, turnip and dill. The skin was beautifully crisp just as it should be and the flesh was tender and flaky. And trust me…I know a good bream when I see it!
When I saw salmon on the menu, I requested it instead of the beef…I think you know by now that I like salmon. The beautifully charred salmon was served with aubergine and cauliflower, my mum had actually had it instead of the sea bream. It was both of our favourite dishes and I loved the Indian spices that ran through it. I think my mum told the manager how much she loved it about 20 times!
My mum stuck with the main from the tasting menu, a 28 day aged beef served again with seasonal ingredients, kale, sweet potato and salsify. The meat was soft and cooked just how she likes it…but she was still talking about the salmon ;).
Coffee…as you can see the iPhone was out again…
My dessert from the tasting menu was a chocolate mousse served with banana. The sweet was on the menu as being served with peanut butter cream…however, I am a weirdo that likes broccoli and brussell sprouts, but not peanut butter. I requested the frozen yogurt that was served with another dessert. However, this may have been an error on my part and the mousse was lovely and light and perfectly matched with the banana but the yogurt was a little watery.
My mum is evener weirder than me and doesn’t even like chocolate mousse and instead had a vanilla panacotta with blackberries and gingerbread.
I’m not always great fan of tasting menus but at the end of the meal I felt just right: not ridiculously stuffed (like at The French Laundry) or still hungry (as in my Petrus experience). My mum and I really enjoyed the food at Picture, in fact you might say it was pretty much perfect!
110 Great Portland Street
020 7637 789
Disclosure: I was invited to review Picture, but my views are honest and it really is practically perfect in every way.