Tucked away just off Marylebone’s bustling high street, nestled in amongst quaint art galleries and fashion boutiques, you’ll find Picture, a smart, spacious restaurant serving inventive small plates thoughtfully designed with flare and produced with ever-changing seasonal British ingredients. The interiors are elegantly simple. Unfussy, clean. The expansive whitewashed walls, and double-height ceilings, showcase a curated collection of young artists’ pieces, all of which can be purchased. Look out for Kate Bonazi and William Luz. The a la carte menu, which we chose from, is split into three parts. The charming manager, Tom, helpfully recommended we select one item from each of the three sections and then a dessert afterwards. My glazed squash, goat’s curd, pumpkin seed pesto and golden sultanas was a delight. The irridescent orange root vegetable pleasantly light and creamy, the pesto nutty and not too oily. Next up was a thick slice of glossy white cod, fennel, calcot onion, hazelnut and dill. The fish fleshy and meltingly delicious. The fennel injecting the dish with welcome super-fresh notes. Just marvellous.
The clever thing at Picture is the portion sizes. Each one is just right. Small but plenty enough to catapult you headfirst into a culinary journey. Although everything we sampled was mind-blowingly extraordinary, it was the tender 28-day aged beef, with scrumptious bone marrow crumb, and red wine sauce that really got my taste buds going. Smooth, creamy - the crumb offering a firm nutty crunch. Diners looking for something special after a morning’s shopping on nearby Marylebone High Street need look no further. Oh, and if you happen to be in the Fitzrovia vicinity, then they have a sister restaurant there, too.
A gloriously sunny Wednesday afternoon and a pleasant stroll through leafy Pimlico to the newly relocated, independently run Enoteca Turi. Having spent 25 years south of the river in Putney, the restaurant decamped to its current location last year after an unpleasant lease expiration. The new venue is bright with triple-height ceilings, simply decorated. Artwork shaped in Italy’s regions hang on the expansive, stone brickwork walls. Elegantly dressed tables, white linen and proper cutlery. This is a serious restaurant with a special energy rarely experienced in today’s fast-paced dining culture. A small staircase leads down to a smashing private dining cellar, spacious and interesting, with high ceiling and filled on one side completely with over 460 wines, each with tasting notes. Guests are invited to venture into the wine vault and have a nosey. Brilliant. Giuseppe and Pamela Turi and their jolly staff – all reassuringly old-school Italian and genuinely warm – greet guests as if they were old friends – indeed, many are. Enoteca Turi’s focus is on sharing great quality, regional recipes using seasonal, abundantly fresh ingredients. Each item on the menu is paired with a sommelier-recommended wine, all of which have been hand-selected from many of Italy’s most respected vineyards. Indeed, the restaurant’s wine cellar is well-stocked and, naturally, award-winning. We were relaxed and allowed smart manager Cesare to recommend almost all of our choices. First up, my companion, purring with excitement, took ownership of a large shiny plate of plump seared scallops – all the way from Campania. Decorated with minimal fuss, and joined by celeriac puree, smoked scamorza (cow’s milk cheese) and endive. The scallops nicely creamy and spongy, cooked just so.
My red Sicilian prawns arrived, a cluster of four, vibrant in colour as they were in flavour, and accompanied with a mini couscous salad, fennel confit and blood orange. The confit an interesting and welcome addition, providing a pungent garlic and lemon hit. Perfect. Feeling devilishly hungry, we decided to share one ‘primi piatti’. We were presented with a shock-red beetroot risotto, injected with light, creamy gorgonzola. The risotto nicely glossy, glistening, al dente. Wonderful. Moving on, my secondi piatti, a lightly salted cod with vanilla cauliflower, rainbow chard, crisp cod belly and aged balsamic, was pleasant if a little too salted. I know, Italians love their salt. The vanilla cauliflower ingenious and cod belly sweet but unusual (in a good way). A marvellously rich and tender oxtail from Lazio arrived braised with yellow baby tomatoes, celery, baby carrot and cipollotto onion. Splendid. It would be a huge disservice to the wonderfully creative pastry chef if we bypassed the dolce, so we practically forced ourselves to sample the chocolate and sour cherry with almond praline and cherry meringue, a sort of circular tart, exploding with flavours. Cherries and chocolate are a winning combination and this creation will I’m sure be replicated if other, more lowly, chefs get a whiff.
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