Review: Picture, Great Portland Street

A sign, yesterday.

Value can be very subjective, particularly when people and passionate pursuits like food are involved. Central London prices only exemplify the divide, amazing restaurants tend to come with prices to match. Even if they are at the top of their game with stunning produce and execution, the bill can still be a painful experience for what is at the end of the day, one meal. So how refreshing to find a 6 course tasting menu in Fitzrovia for the very appealing price of £35. Certainly intriguing, a group of us took a trip there for a birthday celebration to find out, as recommended and accompanied by the fine-palated and always entertaining Niamh from Eat Like a Girl .

An appetising menu

I was the first to arrive and the front of house gave a friendly reception. The space feels airy with generously spaced tables and lots of natural light. On-trend with a stripped back look, some of the unfinished wall surfaces were a touch far for me personally but otherwise all good. A long bar dominates the front of the room, a pleasant place to sit with a glass of fino (I was torn between that and the interesting gin and tonic selection). As the group arrived, we were sat at the nicely dressed table and presented with the menu for the night. All sounding very good to me, quite classic flavour combinations but overall a very balanced and exciting menu.

Teeny tiny velvety soup Perfectly cooked broccoliThe first course was more of an amuse bouche. A shot glass of red pepper soup. Velvety smooth and refreshing (served chilled). It had a hint of spicing, particularly cumin and perhaps some other Middle Eastern flavours. It was served alongside some small rolls with a pleasant chew and butter. Broccoli, often overlooked as a central ingredient but when cooked right it can be very satisfying. And this certainly was, roasted to add flavour with just enough bite but no crunch to it. Served with a rich deep aubergine, a yogurt dressing and chickpeas. Clever spicing and ingredients combined into a great course, everyone around the table loved it.

Flaking soft cod Beautiful beefI somehow neglected to photograph the lamb, a melting piece of slow cooked shoulder with firm fresh artichokes and a salty tomato and olive side. Classic and delicious. Next was cod, an interesting place to serve the fish between the two meat courses but it broke up the meal well and stopped meat overload. A hefty chunk of cod, just cooked to flaking point but still very soft and juicy. Beans, potatoes and olives added substance and flavour to accompany the fish without overwhelming. Having seen the expertise with proteins so far, I was looking forward to the final savoury course, the beef. And it didn’t disappoint, unctuous fully flavoured beef cooked medium rare and a light jus. It was a light dish, maybe a small portion of carb and extra carrot would have completed it. Or maybe I was just being greedy.

Panna cotta

 

A final dessert of vanilla panna cotta with strawberries and gingerbread. Classic flavours although the gingerbread is on the more unusual side. The panna cotta had a very good texture, it was light with the right amount of set. It wasn’t overly sweet and almost had a yogurty sour taste, not unpleasant but I would have preferred more sugar and vanilla. The gingerbread was very thin and crisp but could have had a bit more punch. A nice light end to the meal still.

Quite a feast for the £35, every dish was thoroughly enjoyed. The wine list was well chosen and priced too, an Alsace Riesling and Rioja Crianza delivered lots for their price (£35 and £28 respectively). All-in with service was £65 a head, that included a decent glug of wine and drinks too. I’m already planning my next visit, it’s the perfect place for groups with a fun atmosphere and everyone was very happy with their food.

 

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