A couple of months ago I made an online restaurant reservation using Opentable and although the reservation was fine, I immediately regretted giving them my main email address because I was getting multiple emails daily advertising new restaurants, deals, and special promotions. Right when I was about to click the “unsubscribe” link, one of the restaurants on the mailing caught my eye… probably because it started with “free cocktail…” so I took the bait and clicked. After all, I’m always down to try out a new restaurant especially since we are still getting our bearings in London.
The Tripadvisor reviews looked promising, and the deal seemed pretty good at £35/person for a six course meal (not to mention the free cocktail 😉), so I went for it. Spam email marketing for the win!
After a 35-minute Uber ride across town, and despite the fact though we arrived 10 minutes late, the hostess was friendly and welcoming as she led us to the perfect little table in the back corner of the room.
The dining area is quite small and the tables are relatively close together, but we were pleasantly surprised with the atmosphere, which was comfortably cosy, not too loud (which seems rare in London restaurants…) and was perfect for a casual yet romantic dinner.
I should point out that I usually stay as far away as possible from “tasting” menus because I’m really not an adventurer when it comes to food, and there are a few things that we don’t eat at all, no exceptions (like pork). But we threw caution to the wind and settled in for Picture’s tasting menu.
The courses were as follows:
- Winter vegetable velouté
- Roast butternut squash, aubergine, quinoa, yogurt
- Caramelized onion ravioli (substitution)
- Grilled sea bream, cauliflower, olive, capers
- 28 day agend beef, sweet potato, salsify and curly kale
- Chocolate mousse, poire williams, milk jam and amaranth popcorn
+cheese plate for me (because desserts ain’t really my thing)
Once we were seated, our waitress promptly brought over the free cocktails that got us in the door to begin with. It was an elderflower bellini (I think!) and it was absolutely perfect. I would have ordered a second one, if we hadn’t already pre-gamed at home with Jonathan’s famous margaritas, followed by a round of Ti punch. Hey, it was Saturday night… don’t judge.
When the velouté came out I knew we were in good hands at Picture: it was flavorful and rich, with a roasted garlic and nutty flavor which immediately set the tone for the meal, and tasted exactly as an autumn soup should.
The next courses were brought out in just the right pace by the extremely attentive wait staff. The roast butternut squash followed the velouté and it was pretty good, though probably my least favorite of the six courses. The yogurt sauce was divine though and gave it a much-needed flavor boost, so we both cleaned our plates.
With the next course, though, things got real. The only substitution we made was for the smoked pork, and we were glad we did! The substitution was homemade ravioli with caremlized onions and it was easily my favorite part of the meal. As soon as I took the first bite, I knew this was going to be the highlight of my night for me. Caramelized onions are often nauseating after only a few bites, but these were perfectly balanced and added just enough flavor, without totally taking over the dish. That sauce, though, was the real highlight. It was creamy and flavorful, perfectly accompanying each forkful of the light and fluffy ravioli.
The sea bream was perfect as well: perfectly cooked, served with the right amount of sauce and veggies. This course was very, very nice but not mind-blowingly incredible. I think the bar was just too high after that ravioli…! Top marks for presentation, though, which was gorgeous!
The last savory course was the 28 day aged beef (bavette) and here’s where things get tricky. First of all, I reallllly don’t like bavette because it’s often tough and doesn’t have that buttery texture of ribeye or filet. Jonathan, however, loves bavette. When this course arrived I thought this would be without a doubt our favorite course: the meat was perfectly rare served with sides that I love. And I did love it – it was tender and the flavors all came together nicely, which was the perfect way to round out the meal. Jonathan, on the other hand *hated* it! He didn’t like the texture, didn’t like the flavor and was all around pretty disappointed. I can only think it was because the beef did have a particular flavor (not sure if it was the meat itself or from the grill) but that’s exactly what I liked about it.
The last course was the dessert (or cheese plate for me) and it was fab– chocolate mouse, which was not-too-rich but nice and creamy, and the cheese board was just the right quantity and the three cheeses were lovely. The only complaint would be the crackers: neither of us liked them, and a piece of bread would have really been much nicer.
Both of us enjoyed a nice glass of wine with our meals: Jonathan went with a Montepulciano but I went with a Sancerre. Needless to say, I had wine-envy (like I do every time I go for a white instead of a red…) but both were fine.
So for around £100 total for two people, we had two welcome cocktails, two six course tasting menus, two glasses of wine and an extra cheese plate. All in all, it was a great deal. The food was beautifully put together and it felt like a dining experience as opposed to just a regular night out to eat. The atmosphere at Picture feels cosy and just a little bit fancy, without feeling pretentious or snooty. While this would be a great choice for a slightly-casual romantic evening out, I wouldn’t necessarily go here for a romantic special occasion (like an anniversary) as the tables are probably a little too close together for that. The other diners weren’t really dressed up, so it didn’t have that “celebration” feel to it. If you’re looking for a more understated dining experience with a an impressive and fancy meal, however, then this is your place!
The waitstaff were absolutely perfect, too: they were unobtrusive yet always seemed to swoop in and out with great timing for each course, were multilingual (Jonathan got to practice his French 😊) and gave great recommendations for the wine.
All in all, Jonathan and I both agreed that we loved Picture and thought each course was seasonal, innovative and well-balanced. The quantities were perfect, which tasting menus often struggle with, and the price was definitely right at £35/person. Don’t hesitate to check them out to see for yourself — you won’t be disappointed!
110 Great Portland St.
London, W1W 6PQ
Tel// 0207 637 7892
Monday – Saturday 12pm – 2:30pm / 6pm – 10:30pm