Opening at the tail-end of last year, L’Oscar, Holborn’s new boutique hotel has been described as the hottest thing to have happened in the area recently and the jewel in the ornate crown is The Baptist Bar & Grill. Having heard good things, we headed over to see if the rumours were true. And we can say, we think they’re right. Here are the top reasons you need to add it to your London restaurant bucket list.
They’ve Given a Neglected London Building a New Purpose
The hotel has made its home in a former Grade II-listed Baptist church, chances are you’ve walked past it a number of times and never noticed it, it’s been long neglected. Now, however, the legendary French architect and designer Jacques Garcia has taken over the building and restored it to its glory. You might thing that being a Baptist church it would be minimalist, but commenting in Condé Nast Traveler, Garcia said he actually found many elaborate elements and it was this that inspired him to tribute the place to Oscar Wilde. Fact for all you Wilde fans, he also happened to die in another hotel Garcia had designed L ‘Hôtel in Paris. As you enter the hotel you are met with imposing dark corridors that open up onto ornate, gilded rooms, it’s all very secretive and elusive. The restaurant itself sits on a mezzanine level within the spectacular octagonal domed chapel that was built in 1903, making it an excellent platform to watch those drinking in the bar below.
Love Drama? Look No Further Than The Interiors
Jacques Garcia, has designed a restaurant that might have Marie Kondo asking everyone frantically if they really find joy in the numerous velvet cushions, but would have Laurence Llewelyn Bowen wishing Changing Rooms had never finished. It’s flamboyant without being garish and opulent but on the right side of theatrical. Deep purples, golds, reds, velvets and leathers are brought together to create a room that emulate the interiors of great English houses in the 19th century. Plates are adorned with peacocks, the taps in the bathroom are shaped like crystal butterfly wings and a glittering chandelier demands attention. Even the waiter’s waistcoats are gold. It may sound pretentious but it’s not. It’s warm and familiar and most importantly the atmosphere is relaxed.
Sinfully Indulgent Menu
Overseeing the food is Executive Chef Tony Fleming who has joined from Michelin-starred Angler and the menu does not disappoint. Before we even get going there was a mushroom canapé that is giving Adam Handling’s cheese doughnuts a run for their money in my favourite thing to eat in London. Seriously a plate of those canapés and a never-ending basket of the warm bread with the caramelised yeast butter they were serving and I would be happy. That not being an option, we had an excellent duck and shiitake ravioli with creamed cabbage and smoked red wine. Whilst my friend went for the equally impressive, but lighter dish of coronation crab salad with gem lettuce, mango and pickled lime, presented as tower. Not wanting to get food envy, we both went for the 10oz ribeye, superbly cooked and topped with sweet garlic, snails and bordelaise sauce (red wine, bone marrow, butter and shallots) it was the epitome of indulgence. Pudding was equally decadent, we opted for the baked Majari chocolate mousse with sharp cherries and tart blackberry sorbet to cut through the rich chocolate.
Late Night Drinking Pilgrimages
Housed downstairs, the bar is going to the top of my list for the next place to have a late -night drink after visiting a nearby theatre. Alongside classic cocktails, you’ll find Old Testament cocktails named after the seven virtues, whilst in the New Testament section you’ll find cocktails named after the seven deadly sins. Being the virtuous soul that I of course am, I went for a cocktail from the Old Testament – Temperance. Made from Talisker 10, Smoked Drambuie, China Clementi and Gentian, I’d recommend it for anyone who likes an Old Fashioned or smoky whisky.
It’s time to embrace the flamboyance of Garcia’s vision and get yourself to Baptist Bar and Grill, it’ll be good for your soul.
Baptist Bar and Grill is now open at L’Oscar London 2-6 Southampton Row, Holborn WC1B 4AA