July has been a great month for me when it comes to quality dinning out on a budget. I managed to grab a few reservations at newly opened restaurants in London to take advantage of their 50% off soft launches.
The first restaurant on my list is Picture in Marylebone which promises English fine dining at an affordable price. This is the second neighbourhood restaurant from Tom, Alan, and Colin with the first being found in Fitrozia. Picture had been on my radar since it opened in 2013 but I'd never been able to visit. Thanks goodness for new openings and 50% off! In the evening a 6 course tasting menu for £40 is always available and there was no way Steve and I were going to turn down this £20 bargain.
We started with a pale ale and gin cocktail alongside freshly baked bread and whipped butter. Shortly afterwards we were presented with the first course, a delicious chilled, red pepper soup. I felt a little apprehensive about cold soup but my worries were quickly subdued as I drank this rich, flavoursome liquid. This was a perfect little dish for a muggy summer day.
Next up was the charred cauliflower, accompanied with a pea and leafy salad. This was a highlight for me. The charred vegetable had a faint taste of the middle east and the salad was wonderfully light and fresh. I'm not sure what the sauce at the bottom of the plate was, but it tasted akin to a light mayonnaise that helped pull all the various elements of the dish together.
The smoked pork and potato salad tasted heavenly. The rich meat was crispy with melt in the mouth moments thanks to the fatty pork. The potatoes were perfect with the pea puree and crackling adding a wonderful contrast in texture to the salad.
The generous serving of stone bass accompanied with orzo, courgettes, aubergine, tomatoes, and peppers had a lovely Mediterranean taste.
The lambs neck and sweetbreads was designed for sharing and what a wonderful dish this was. I'm not sure I've ever had sweetbreads before but they tasted lovely nonetheless. If you're not sure what sweetbreads are, it's the thymus gland from a lamb or calf. They're tender with a crispy exterior thanks to the frying. The lamb neck was beautiful, the meat fell away from the bone with the slightest tough.
I normally skip the cheese course as it's not something I'm that interested in but given that everything was 50% off I was intrigued to try the cheddar and brie. A blue cheese was also available but alas I am not a fan. Both cheeses were lovely and creamy but it was the cheddar that really stood out for me.
A picture of Steve and myself in case you'd forgotten what we look like.
I knew I'd love the dessert, dark chocolate mousse and salted caramel crumble is my idea of heaven basically. The mousse was rick and the crumble added a much welcomed crunch. I loved this.
Our meal at Picture was wonderful and not just because there was 50% off the bill. Even with a full priced menu I'd expect to pay a lot more for the quality and flare of the dishes presented. Picture is the perfect neighbourhood restaurant and whilst it isn't cheap you'd be hard pressed to find a better value, fine dining option. At £40 the 6-course tasting menu is terrific value - with attentive service, an original cocktail menu, and a casual but refined atmosphere I could not think of a better way to spend a Friday night in London.