Shepherd’s Bush has a lot going on for foodies. The wonderful Damas Gate middle eastern supermarket has anything you’d ever need to whip up a lavish middle eastern banquet. There’s the famous Shepherd’s Bush Market and also an outlet of Abu Zaad - one of my favorite Damascan restaurants in London. But occasionally I’ve frocked up to see something at the O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire and wandered aimlessly trying to find somewhere just a little more elegant for a pre-show bite. How did I not know of Pictures Restaurant? So close to the Empire, you could almost duck in for a mid-show cocktail and plate of crispy squid during interval.
The menu is largely British with some Asian undertones. It’s simple and not too challenging, featuring the sort of comforting fare guests would expect from a restaurant located within a hotel (Pictures is one of two restaurants within the elegant Dorsett Hotel). Starters push the envelope a little more than mains, and are my favorite part of the meal. The Beetroot and Goat’s Cheese salad (£7.50) is a ubiquitous dish, on every second menu, with some versions better than others. On this occasion, it is beautifully executed. The beetroot is gutsy and intense, deftly offset by a caramelised disc of creamy goat’s cheese. This contrasts nicely with the Quinoa, Feta and Pomegranate salad (£8) which sounds way too virtuous to be delicious, but is a knock out.
Of the two mains we tried, I most enjoyed the Duck Breast with Plum Sauce (£15.50) as the plum sauce was a housemade specialty using seasonal plums. The bitter-sweet fleshiness of the plums work nicely to cut through the richness of the duck. Throw in some smashed roast potatoes and a clever pairing of a Chilean cabernet sauvignon from De Gras and it is a very satisfying dish.
Feeling rather piggy at this stage, we opted to share a dessert and chose the pineapple upside-down cake for nostalgic reasons. The cakey bit was a little drier than I expected and the whole dish could have benefitted from more caramel and/or more pineapple, but the creme anglaise was delicious.
I had a macchiato to finish off, which was very good. Someone on the machine knows what they’re doing - smooth, deep flavoured, not too bitter. Milk that wasn’t over-boiled was also a joy to find in a hotel restaurant.
This takes me back to the start of the night where we enjoyed a particularly innovative cocktail in the Jin bar. The Montecristo Daiquiri uses a standout ingredient of cuban cigar infused rum. It lingers on the palate, but only ever-so delicately. Not enough to send me back to my smoking days, but it gave me a lovely smoky nicotine blush.
Price-wise things are very reasonable, given the quality of ingredients and the luxurious hotel surroundings. One to keep in the back pocket if you’re a local looking for something a little posher than the pub, or on your next trip to rock out at the O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire.
Dorsett Shepherds Bush, London
58 Shepherds Bush Green
London W12 8QE
Disclosure: I was invited to review Pictures Restaurant but as always my opinions (and I have many!) are my own.