The Dorsett hotel is a surprisingly smart establishment that opened in November 2014 in the unlikely location of Shepherds Bush Green. It is occupies a listed building that was originally the Pavilion Cinema in 1923 – just the façade remains from the original building. The hotel is part of a Hong Kong based group. Pictures restaurant is on the ground floor and has a menu that might be politely be described as eclectic, notionally Asian and ranging through Malaysia and Thai cuisine with a detour for fish and chips.
The room is quite smartly decorated though tables were set out rather like a school canteen; at least the chairs were comfortable. The wine list was printed in a font that only an overly adventurous graphic designer could love, the labels ranging in price from £21.50 to £42 other than the champagne, and did not deign to list vintages. Example bottles were Bogle Chardonnay at £35 for something that you can find in the high street for £13, and the very pleasant Thelema Shiraz at £32 for a wine that retails at £14. A bottle of water was a hefty £4.
Sotong goreng (fried squid) came with a green peppercorn sauce and some strands of coriander. This dish was unappealingly presented but was actually better than it looked, the squid mostly avoiding chewiness and there being a slight kick of spice (11/20). This was much better than grilled haloumi and quinoa salad, with pickled red onions, parsley, pomegranate and notionally some green beans, though these were entirely missing in action. This was a sorry-looking dish that combined dried out cheese with a pulse, so mixing a dry ingredient with an even drier one, and had no balance at all. The waiter seemed entirely untroubled when he removed the plate that was barely touched, as if leaving a starter uneaten was entirely normal here – perhaps it is (7/20).
Beef rendang was a dish that I am quite fond of, having being introduced to it in Malaysia many years ago. The meat is simmered slowly with coconut milk and lemongrass, and usually with chillies, galangal and tamarind amongst other spices. Usually when it goes wrong it is because the beef is of poor quality and ends up being stringy, but here that was not the case, the meat being quite tender. However the dish had a remarkable lack of spice for what is after all supposed to be a spicy meat dish, and it desperately needed a hefty kick of chilli, and indeed almost anything to make it taste more interesting (10/20). On the side bak choi was swimming in some cooking liquid, and was entirely limp, a sad spectacle indeed (6/20). Indeed for a restaurant called "Pictures", most of the dishes were presented most unattractively. Singapore noodles were actually decent, with acceptable texture and a few properly cooked prawns. Again the dish lacked any spicy kick, but overall was competent (11/20).
The thus far dismal meal was rescued to an extent by a pair of pleasant desserts. Pear and ginger crumble had a pleasing amount of ginger, crumble with good texture and enough fruit, the pear mixed in with a little apple and blackberry. On the side was a perfectly competent crème Anglaise (12/20). Apple tart tatin had very thin pastry but reasonable fruit with more crème Anglaise, suitably flavoured with vanilla (12/20). Coffee was grim.
Service was well meaning, but it is never a good sign when the waiter has no idea who the head chef is. After consultation with the manager the name “Robertson” was proffered somewhat tentatively, though whoever the chef was he did not put in an appearance tonight; the two people actually cooking were South American and Filipino, and presumably had limited acquaintance with Malaysian cuisine. The bill came to £49 a head, of which the food element was £31 each, which represented dismal value in my view. Given the amount of money lavished on the décor of the hotel, it is baffling to me that so little investment has gone into the restaurant. We were asked “Which room number?” when the bill arrived, and I would guess that every other customer tonight was staying at the hotel. Even with such a captive market, the dining room had less than a dozen diners all evening. This place is one to avoid.