It was all going so well. Arriving over half an hour early, I met with my Editor at a pub close to the restaurant for a catch up over a quick pint. Yet by the time of our dinner reservation had rolled around, we had ended up at the wrong restaurant.
Positioned in the middle of Great Portland Street, the Fitzrovia branch of Picture has been operating for around four years, with the newer Marylebone outpost (the site of our reservation) located a good five minutes’ brisk walk away. After calling to explain, it soon became clear that this happens quite regularly and nobody seemed to mind our lateness. Inside, the space is whitewashed and has an almost industrial feel, with cavernous ceilings and tables positioned closely together to squeeze in more covers and make dining here seem more intimate, albeit with the next table rather than your own companion.
Joining local trendy restaurants such as Jikoni, Yosma and Blandford Comptoir, Picture was unsurprisingly filled with turtle-neck sporting gents possibly ending a long day of trekking between art galleries, now journeying through the six course tasting menu, just like ourselves. Beginning with nuggets of breaded, slow cooked venison, the menu then offered a velouté of winter vegetables served in a handle-less cup that’s more fashionable than it is practical. Presented without a spoon, it seemed that the only way to enjoy the dish would be to drink it like a soup served on a cold fishing trip. Topped with some globules of herb infused oil, the velouté was as a creamy palate exciter.
Next, a dish focussing on beetroot seemed like a standard take on the vegetarian-friendly, super-healthy dish that so many high end restaurants are churning out at present, while a dish of slow-cooked pork was everything I’d dreamed of. A brick of pressed head and hock meat had been initially slow-cooked and then finished in a hot frying pan to lend an outer crunch, curiously acquiring an element of Chinese comfort food along the way. This was followed by a thick tranche of stone bass, cooked well with a dry crispy skin, accompanied by some braised, perhaps overly bitter endive leaves, diced celeriac and slightly al dente orzo in contrast with the fish.
A dish showcasing haunch of venison, my personal favourite cut (from the back legs of the deer) was undoubtedly the best thing that we at at Picture. Perfectly cooked and joined by appropriately wintery parsnip and caramelised swede atop a bed of Bulgar wheat. To finish, a quenelle of dark chocolate mousse offered a sensational bitter-sweet balance, thankfully less rich than so many other chocolate mousses on offer in central London.
From the tasting menu, this neighbourhood restaurant’s dishes are all brimming with culinary accomplishment and presented with picture perfect precision. What’s more, at £40 per head, the six course tasting menu has a remarkably reasonably mark-up. All of this is joined by excellent wine pairings and casual, friendly service, making Picture a strong contender for the area’s best new opening of 2016.
Picture Marylebone can be found at 19 New Cavendish Street, London, W1G 9TZ.