There are two Picture restaurants in central London – the original Fitzrovia restaurant, which opened in 2013 and sits slap-bang in the middle of Great Portland Street, and the Marylebone restaurant, which opened last year, and is situated on New Cavendish Street, less than a 10 minute walk from its older sister.
Both restaurants offer an al a carte menu, and a six course seasonal tasting menu for £45 per person, or £77.50 with wine pairings. Unlike most London restaurants, alongside the ‘normal’ tasting menu, Picture also offers a vegetarian tasting menu, and is a ‘must visit’ for any veggies living in or visiting London any time soon.
I visited Picture last week, and (of course) opted for the veggie tasting menu. Picture has a pretty great cocktail list, with plenty of unique twists on classic drinks, and so we opted for a cocktail each (one Highgate Negroni – spiced vermouth, gin and rosehip, and one Rhubarb Bellini) to start and then progressed on to a carafe of white wine (Sicilian Fiano, £13) with our meal instead of the wine pairing option.
Both the carnivorous and the vegetarian tasting menus start with a spiced winter vegetable velouté. Served in a quirky little ceramic cups, the velouté is full of flavour and really gets your appetite going, although there did seem to be some confusion among diners about whether to use a spoon or not (we opted for not).
The second course is fresh goats curd, slow roasted carrots, pine nuts and an incredibly rich, sweet Agen prune reduction. An incredibly tasty and beautifully presented dish. This is followed by a simple, but fantastic ravioli dish, both served and filled with Italian vegetables and roasted cauliflower. I loved this dish, another simple but effective use of flavour combinations that was perfectly complemented by the Sicilian wine. The fourth course is butternut squash, tenderstem broccoli and gnocchi with toasted seeds, and the fifth is portobello mushroom served with fried polenta, chicory and baked onions. Both courses opting for more hearty, earthy flavours than the previous courses, which were cleaner, lighter and fresher. The change up was welcomed, and didn’t go unnoticed. In fact, I very much appreciated the diversity of flavour profiles between the courses. It is a very rare thing to find European restaurants serving truly varied vegetarian dishes, with too many restaurants settling for the same old, boring dishes. And I find it incredibly exciting that chef’s outside of vegetarian eateries are now taking the time to carefully curate entirely meat-free menus that are as interesting as their meat and fish containing counterparts.
Dessert was a simple, yet decadently dark chocolate mousse served with a delicious salted caramel crumble and a rather bizarre sounding ‘milk jam’, which in my opinion just tasted like a mild-flavoured cream. You can’t really go wrong with chocolate and caramel and dairy, and in my opinion, after a very varied and exciting 5 courses, it would have been nice to see something more interesting. (But I’m probably just a bit sore because despite being a big dessert person, I’m not really into chocolate mousse.)
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my evening at Picture Fitzrovia. The restaurant, which is very small despite its reputation, has a very personal, independent business feel with an incredibly relaxed atmosphere. The waiting staff are incredibly attentive and friendly, and were happy to recommend drinks and explain each course as it arrived. I definitely recommend this restaurant for both veggies and non-veggies alike, and will definitely be returning very soon.