Picture is the first restaurant venture by three chaps who used to work together for the Arbutus group (they own Arbutus, Les Deux Salon and Wild Honey). Colin and Alan head up the kitchen while Tom runs the front of house.
It’s situated at the quieter end of Fitzrovia and during our Saturday lunch visit there were only a couple of fellow diners present which seemed surprising. The dining room was a simple but stylish space; there was a long bar by the front and tables at the back which were flooded with natural light. Even though it was empty it had a pleasant atmosphere.
Some mini sourdough baguettes with an ever so light and moussey butter got things off to an enjoyable start. The fact that they were warm made them even better.
The menu featured a very tempting list of small plates intended for sharing. Whilst perusing, we ordered some nibbles to quash our hunger pangs. The mini lamb bites (£1 each) were utterly divine; encased in a crisp breadcrumb coating the slow cooked lamb inside was intensely flavourful. The salmon spread (£3) served with crunchy toast for dunking was also heavenly. The paste was really rich and pungent (in a good way) – it was beautifully made.
Our first dish was roast Provençal fig, goat’s curd cheese, celeriac and chicory (£7) and was a thing of pure beauty. The interesting blend of flavours as I popped them in my mouth was wonderful; sweet fig, tangy goats curd and bitter chicory.
The ravioli of Italian greens, ricotta, chilli and soft herbs (£7) would satisfy any vegetarian. The pasta was delicately made; impressively thin and cooked perfectly. At the same time as feeling quite healthy, a light butter sauce and some grated Parmesan added some most welcome richness. It could have done with a bit more of a chilli kick though.
Slow cooked squid, tomato, courgette and smoked paprika (£8) was another winner. The squid was some of the finest I’ve tasted and although it lacked the charred crispy exterior I usually like with squid, it had been braised to tender perfection. The sweet tomato sauce was a delightful accompaniment.
The 28 day aged beef, Needham beetroot, sweet potato and brussel tops (£9) tasted as beautiful as it looked. The quality of the beef and its cooking was sublime and the beetroot and sweet potato purée only heightened the enjoyment.
Fries (£3) were salty and crispy but it was the aioli that stole the show; a punchy little number that gave an eyebrow raising wallop of garlic. Totally delightful.
Fried chicken, bulgar wheat, root vegetables, honey and lemon (£8) was an interesting one; the preserved lemon flavouring in the bulgar wheat was really intense and quite unusual – pleasant though. Although the thinner ends of the chicken were a tad dry the rest was juicy and tender and the batter was as crisp as it gets.
Desserts proved equally as wondrous. The chocolate mousse, pears and honeycomb (£4) seemed very good value. The combination of flavours was simple but totally delicious and the textures were great too. My favourite pud was the apple and almond pie with vanilla ice cream (£5). It was like an apple flavoured Bakewell tart; properly sweet and full of almonds. Every single mouthful was indulgent bliss!
Our lunch at Picture was a triumph – the food not only looked pretty as a picture; it also tasted ruddy lovely too. And it was so reasonably priced – OK we didn’t drink alcohol but we left feeling like we’d had a bargainous meal. Why it wasn’t busier is beyond me – with food and service that good it should be bursting at the seams.