May – Picture, Fitzrovia

We had high hopes for Picture, tucked away like most trendy fine dining establishments these days on a backwater between Charlotte Street and Tottenham Court Road. It was my grandad’s 70th, we were a group of 10, and we all wanted fare befitting of his mighty innings.

Picture went for an early duck, however, delivering a shot of Shrek’s spittle to open the tasting menu. Imaginary blindfold festooned, one could just as easily have been consuming a glass of the Dead Sea, not cold asparagus soup. Saline hardly cuts it as a suitable adjective. It was apocalyptically misjudged. Had no one dared to try it ahead of service? Perhaps they feared they might shrivel up.

You salty, bro?

Unfortunately the cold asparagus soup was also the most adventurous part of the short, 6 course seasonal menu. Next out of the pavilion was beetroot and goats cheese salad with macadamia nuts et al. Hardly reinventing the wheel, we thought. The taste was as lacklustre as the invention, again due to a seasoning faux pas: salt and pepper seemingly omitted entirely, this time. Perhaps all the salt on the premises had been put in the soup?

Seasonal, but unseasoned.

First meat course: pork belly with fruity bits. At this point there were items of furniture in the restaurant more excited than I. What’s more, the pork was neither tender nor succulent; several of our group reported uncooked fatty bits. Simply criminal.

How can a proper restaurant leave balls on the middle stump like this? It cannot be blamed on the size of our group, either – they were serving the same menu to all of the non-veggie patrons that night, and doubtless many nights prior.

Pork, poorly prepared.

Recalling the meal is beginning to hurt my feelings, so I’ll skip through the remainder of the savoury plates:

  • Fish and tweel plus some tried-and-tested garnish splodge; fish undercooked; not surprised at this point;
  • Steak with veg and bone marrow crumb; possibly best savoury dish of the evening, although, again, balance of flavours all wrong; bone marrow in this intense form did not marry nicely with the beef.
Beef. Fish too weak to submit to posterity in photo form.

Finally, dessert. Dessert is a looping catch to first slip – practically undroppable. Thankfully, Picture were cautious and sent the gloved keeper to eat up the easy wicket. Dessert was sound and almost betrayed Picture as a Michelin guide establishment: tasty, relatively edgy, and thought-provoking.

The dish in question was chocolate mousse with milk jam and a crumb of some description. The mousse may well have been sourced from a purple plastic pot, but at least it was served in a 8/10 quenelle, thus using the ‘MPE’ to its advantage (read our April piece). The milk jam was a bit of a cheat, in all honesty; a jazzy name for whipped cream. The crumb could have been anything, but at least it served its purpose as a conduit for texture. Dessert was the dish of the evening, and we all concurred.

The dish of the evening…

The one consolation is that Picture’s dishes were all as pretty as. Alas, accompanying this single merit are two additional and significant blots: the dinner took over three and a half hours and it was hardly cheap, maybe £60 a head with enough of the house wine to go around. I thought this was meant to be Bib Gourmand dining?

Avoid Picture; better off cooking your selfie.

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