‘Modern European’ doesn’t do justice to the food at Picture Marylebone
Published: 18 October, 2016
by TOM MOGGACH
A FRIEND texted me a gloomy image – the sign dangling on the door of Arbutus restaurant, stating it had closed for good.
You may not know the place. But Arbutus was a corker: heavenly food in the middle of Soho without being poncy or pricy.
Thankfully, solace can be found in Picture Marylebone, a new opening run by three chaps who worked together at Arbutus a while back.
This is their second restaurant. The first Picture opened in Fitzrovia three years ago. The food was so good I took my friends back there to warm up for Christmas.
They describe the food as “modern European” but frankly that sounds a bit dull.
The cooking here is exciting and classy – but also just downright delicious. One of my favourite dishes is their £1 snack: crisp, oozy cubes of braised lamb or beef deep fried in breadcrumbs. Naughty but oh-so-nice.
This second Picture trades in a posh bit of town, just off Marylebone High Street.
Step inside and it’s a minimal, almost Scandinavian aesthetic with white walls, designer chairs and smooth hewn wooden tables.
It might feel cold were it not for Tom, one of the owners, who gives all of his guests a warm welcome.
He runs front of house and has a reputation as one of the best in the business.
Three drinks were emblazoned as specials on the front on the paper menu.
We tried them all over the course of the meal: a swish apricot bellini; a blackberry lemonade; and fiery, homemade ginger beer.
The wines are intriguing, too, such as a dry furmint from Hungary – a grape normally used in sweet dessert wine.
The food, too, is presented with flair. The menu is divided into three – veg, fish and meat dishes – and they suggest picking one dish from each section.
Slow-cooked hen’s egg? It was a new one for me. Gently cooked for hours at low temperature, it results in a wobbly, intriguing mouthful.
This was accompanied with slivers of celeriac, San Daniele ham and mushrooms – a gorgeous mix of earthy, autumnal flavours.
Our most visually dazzling dish was a hake brandade: a disc of white flaked fish topped with a colourful Provençal sauce of peppers, tomato, olive and onion.
You scoop it up with jagged shards of flatbread speared into the dish.
For the meat course, there’s tender beef in an intense, glossy red wine sauce, lamb neck and anchovy or a roasted baby chicken with tiny shallots, turnips and preserved lemon.
The set lunch costs £22 for three course or £25 for four. For supper expect to pay around £40 per head plus drinks.
Puddings are terrific. We couldn’t fault the simplicity of a warm almond cake with a scoop of frozen lemon thyme yoghurt and fresh raspberries.
I wouldn’t come to Picture if you’re ravenous. Rather than one chunky main dish, they tease you with a succession of smaller plates. Their excellent bread and butter will fill in any gaps.