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110 Great Portland Street
020 7637 7892
Equally suited to a quick business meet or a special night out, this “fantastic oasis behind Oxford Street” is clearly doing something right – perhaps because its three owners all met at Arbutus, where they learned the knack of serving classy food at unexpectedly keen prices. Picture’s six-course tasting menu is one of London’s bargains, but without a whiff of cost-cutting – witness Cheltenham beetroot tartare with pomegranate, feta and pine nuts, lightly smoked pork with Jerusalem artichoke, quince and pickled shallot, or cod fillet with sprouting broccoli, celeriac and trompette mushrooms. Elsewhere, crispy beef ‘bites’ and a dessert of chocolate mousse, salted caramel and milk jam are fixtures on the carte. The no-frills room is all bare boards and stripped, industrial-chic walls, but padded seats and glossy wood tables don’t compromise on comfort – no wonder it’s also a “great-value” lunchtime magnet for Fitzrovia’s too-cool media crowd. Service is “friendly and knowledgeable”, while savvy wines deliver on price and quality.
Best in Fitzrovia
Best Modern European restaurants in London
SquareMeal 2 Stars
From: 27 July 2018
To: 23 November 2018
Look for the "£" icon when booking (offers only available on certain days/times)
110 Great Portland Street
020 7637 7892
Great Portland Street Tube Station 435m
Oxford Circus Tube Station 476m
University of Westminster 105m
Royal Institute of British Architects 261m
Mon-Sat 12N-2.30pm 6-10.30pm
Food & Drink:
Rate & Review
Food + drink: 3
Booked this place for a business meeting based on the good reviews in SquareMeal.
Upon arrival greeted by a very loud and pushy Maître d' who spoke in such a forceful manner, it immediately put me off. All the other waiting staff were pleasant and perhaps trying to make up for the Maître d's rudeness.
My business guests were pushed for their orders. At desert, the same treatment again. As one of them was reading through the menu, he mumbled chocolate mousse to himself and then the Maître d' shouted that was his order and walked away.
We had to correct our deserts order.
The restaurant has a nice ambience and lighting - a plus.
The food was good but not at a level where I would find it easy to justify their prices.
I struggle to think of reasons to go back unless some changes are made.
Food + drink: 4
The first, perhaps stupid, thought that came into my mind before dining here was why, if you were opening a new restaurant, would you call it Picture? I am not sure how much is in a name, but it certainly counts for something. Gastro-philes who are familiar with the success and enjoyment of dining at Wild Honey and Arbutus would surely come here of their own accord, but for the casual diner, might the name make one think of artwork? Or, as an acquaintance wittily remarked, picture mispronounced sounds like ‘pitcher’, and this dining experience is about as far from the forlorn food of the Pitcher & Piano pub chain as possible. The other curious thing about Picture is that there is barely an artwork in sight. Maybe the name is a post-ironic statement, a juxtaposition to the grey-washed walls, minimalist decoration and retro style furnishings. Such a design formula, also when factoring in a huge skylight in the main dining areas does create a wonderful light and airy space. The setting certainly leaves the diner with a wonderful opportunity to concentrate on the food served up by the highly talented chefs here (and more of this later). The only problem, however, that while the room was just perfect when my dining comrade and I arrived for lunch at 12.30, by peak dining time, the noise levels were such (with nothing obviously to absorb them) that non-shouted conversation become harder. Moreover, the chairs that we had thought ‘looked’ nice, certainly didn’t ‘feel’ nice after having sat on them for about an hour-and-a-half. That the place got so busy, was evidence of its popularity and winning formula – great fresh food at highly competitive prices served by genuinely welcoming staff – although my humble advice might be to dine either early or late, avoiding peak noise levels. Do dine though: we loved the food and the concept of small shared dishes works wonderfully. Sharing may have its critics, but to my mind it can democratise the whole dining experience, not restricting customers just to the traditional starter-main-dessert formula. Moreover, as grown-ups, one also doesn’t need to split each dish religiously; human nature dictates that some people will prefer one item over another, but at least this way one does have the option to try a broad range and witness the full testament to a kitchen’s talents. My comrade and I comfortably managed seven small savoury dishes (priced between £6 and £9) followed by one dessert. They delighted on all counts, presentation, freshness and innovation, the use of the traditional, but with a nod to the modern. Highlights included the sole ceviche with cucumber and sea lettuce as well as the ravioli of Italian greens and ricotta, accompanied by chilli and parmesan. Although we didn’t opt for it, a three-course set lunch of this quality for just £15 seems almost too good to be believed. Picture also scores in the wine department: everything is available by the glass, and bottles range from less than £20 to almost £80. Great food, service and price win the day!
Food + drink: 2
Picture is one of yet another venues with the small sharing plates “concept” (does that word still apply if it's more common than McDonalds?) and we are advised we should pick 6 dishes between 2. If that's the case, then why not make the dishes easy to share? Egg, as you can imagine, was a runny minefield. And 3 ravioli do not divide happily by 2 consumers as even the most mathematically challenged would tell you. Fortunately, or rather, unfortunately, we were not fighting over the food. We were certainly not fighting over the semi-raw chicken. I'm not sure whether to be unimpressed that the kitchen can't cook chicken or impressed that the waiter spotted the error as soon as we had cut into it (trying to divide the one small bit of breast in 2, of course) and swiftly took it away to be replaced. The rare beef was a little too rare, and being a bit cold, I wonder if “rare” isn't just a synonym for “cooked earlier and plated up now”. We did enjoy the starter lamb bite nibbles (piping, mouth-blisteringly hot, in contrast to the rest of the meal) but skipped dessert as I just didn't have the heart to flog the dead horse any more. Coffee instead was as good as any Italian barrista can produce. It's a shame as the atmosphere is convivial enough sitting up at the long, high table, with the bifold doors open, and watching the summer London crowd potter past at lunchtime, although the number of empty tables should have rung warning bells. Perhaps in the evening it would be a bit more humming and the chefs would pay more attention to the quality of the food, but I am starting to get the impression that “sharing” plates is just an excuse for lazily churning out very hit-or-miss dishes (it doesn't matter if this one is rubbish as you might like one of the others) and a sneaky way of getting you to part with more money for less food. Because at £6-9 a dish (which is a couple of mouthfuls) you do end up paying more for less, and in this case for less in both quantity and quality.
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