Lunch at Picture

A few weeks ago I went for lunch with my friend Fiona (you can follow her brilliant food blog here). Luckily we work about two streets from each other, and, as we were both very busy in the run-up to the London Book Fair, we chose to eat at Picture on Great Portland Street, as it’s a short walk for both of us and we knew we liked the food, having had lunch there together before.

Warm bread and butter is always a welcome start to any meal, especially when you get a mini baguette all to yourself:

Baguette

As we devoured our bread, we looked over the menu, which is divided into various sections: nibbles, vegetable, fish, meat and dessert. Given that I’m vegetarian – apologies to Fiona, again – we ordered every vegetarian item on the menu that day (the menu changes regularly) along with one fish dish, and we shared all of them.

First to arrive was a salad of quinoa, goat’s curd and English spring vegetables:

Quinoa Salad

They certainly do know how to present food so it looks appetising, and the plate was full of colour and showed English produce to its full advantage. I wonder whether they also use British-grown quinoa, which it is possible to source now. However, despite the plate looking very appetising, Fiona and I were not blown away by the dish, and felt it was underseasoned.

Next up was asparagus with poached egg dressing, red onion and pecorino:

Asparagus

The asparagus was perfectly grilled, and the pecorino was a nice touch, adding a salty element to the dish.

Then we shared the smoked haddock and pollock brandade, with hispi cabbage and parsley:

Brandade

Even though I very rarely eat fish these days, I do like brandade. This, however, was just ok. It could have been a bit smoother and would have benefited from more garlic. The best brandade I’ve had recently was at Jason Atherton’s The Little Social.

Tenderstem broccoli

Next up was the tenderstem broccoli with slow-baked aubergine, probably two of my favourite vegetables. Maybe that meant I was bound to be disappointed, having eaten both in countless varieties over the years, and having recently been to Beirut where my friend and I deliberately ate a different style of aubergine every single day! There was nothing wrong with the dish: the broccoli was still crunchy and had been nicely grilled, the yoghurt and tomato puree were fine as accompaniments, and the slow-baked aubergine was good, but again, we felt the dish was underseasoned and we weren’t particularly excited by it.

Last up was a ravioli of Italian greens with ricotta:

Ravioli

We have definitely had this dish – or a variation of it – before. It’s usually excellent, with perfectly cooked pasta and a sauce that’s full of flavour. On this occasion, however, the pasta felt a touch too al dente and, again, the dish overall just didn’t feel as perfectly executed as we had expected and lacked seasoning.

It’s a shame that, for the purposes of this review, the meal that we had at Picture wasn’t as good as it has been on previous occasions. However, the atmosphere in the restaurant is wonderful, the staff are friendly and attentive, and the menu has lots of vegetarian options. It’s also very reasonably priced for lunch. There is a set lunch option, though Fiona and I didn’t go for that this time. I think we paid just under £20 each for the five plates, plus a soft drink each. I’m sure both Fiona and I will be returning to Picture soon, though I hope that next time they remember the salt and pepper!

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Categories: Food & Drink

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