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January 1, 2015
When we visit Picture on a cold Wednesday evening, it’s already abuzz. This is certainly testament to the laid-back, friendly ambiance the founders were trying to achieve. We’re seated at the bar, which is more than big enough to accommodate the profusion of dishes that await us. Picture is a restaurant in-tune with the burgeoning trend for British tapas – a concept that’s been well-received, especially in London, in recent years. And, indeed, the menu features carefully curated lists of fish, meat, and vegetable dishes and diners are advised to pick one from each. There’s also a very reasonable tasting menu, which we opted for.
The plates are preceded by a sweet, flower-topped house cocktail of Prosecco, sugary lemon and subtle mint. It proves to be a good omen – it’s followed by a procession of equally creative, aesthetically pleasing dishes. The first to arrive is a richly spiced squash velouté, which is ideal for the season and suitably warming. To follow is one of the vegetable dishes from the main menu: tenderstem broccoli with goat’s curd, beetroot and quinoa. It’s light and simple, allowing the flavours of each ingredient to really shine. Next is the crispy pork cheek, with a crunchy caramelised exterior that gives way to a soft, break-apart centre. It comes with traditional apple puree plus braised celery and hazelnuts, all of which complement it well, though it could have done with being a little more salty to really stand out from its accompaniments. Next came smoked haddock on puy lentils, which like the dishes before it was subtle, fresh, and relied on the natural flavour of the core ingredient to do the talking. The highlight of the menu came next – 28-day aged beef that was soft, medium-rare and partnered with smoky, roasted kale and sweet root vegetables. Apart from the very first dish, this was the course with the most flavour and complexity, but perhaps that’s a good thing – too much intensity throughout would overwhelm.
Adding a cheese course is only £4, and with four generous slices from La Fromagerie, it’s worth it. Following this, and extremely full, we are presented with dessert – a thick, rich chocolate mousse with zingy clementine curd and toasted oatmeal. It’s a memorable finisher, and you will finish it, regardless of how much you’ve eaten before. We sit a while after the meal is finished, lingering over a glass of wine, and the informal, neighbourhood-like atmosphere allows for this. This is a rare quality, especially in central London where everything is usually so panicked, and Picture has certainly got it right.