The Baptist Bar and Grill is a newly opened restaurant in L’Oscar hotel in Holborn. Its central location means it’s a good choice for pre-theatre dinner, or in fact as a fancy venue before a late evening in Soho. The Baptist is not just set within the theatrical heartland of London, but is theatrical in its own right. So of course we at Vada explored what this means.
Baptist Bar and Grill
The hotel L’oscar (housing the Baptist Bar and Grill) is itself quite a theatrical building, using a converted chapel as part of its architecture. The dark woods and deep colours as you enter give an opulent feel, and whilst it might not be entirely clear how to get to The Baptist once inside the hotel, head for the staircase and ask a member of staff.
After being greeted, guests enter The Baptist on the lower floor, the bar, with dark wood panelling, deep purple upholstery, and plenty of gold and peacock finishes touches you can’t help but feel in a cabaret environment. There is in fact a small stage area for live jazz music. Looking up through the double-height space, there is a mezzanine level – the main restaurant, above which is an impressive octagonal, chapel dome roof.
The dome has a curious effect, meaning that depending on where guests are sat in the mezzanine, they can hear conversations from elsewhere in the restaurant as if they were on the same table. So if you start throwing shade about your fellow diners, you have been warned, they could hear every word.
During our meal, staff were very attentive, perhaps a little too much so at times, having had duplicate people check everything was OK.
The menu is under the guidance of executive chef, Tony Fleming, who has certainly brought some flair (albeit somewhat unusual in some instances) to the presentation of the food.
We started with the octopus carpaccio (£14) which is served with with datterini tomato, watermelon, sea herbs, green olive dressing; and the foie gras (£18) served with trompette mushroom, five spice and plum preserve. The octopus was fresh and light, and the foie gras rich and paired exceptionally well with the preserve. An observation is the melba toast that was brought out (The Baptist version of a bread basket) came with a baba ganoush, and taramasalata – no qualms there, but also a caramelised yeast butter, which was more like a cream one would apply to a yeast infection.
Onto the main course, and being a grill restaurant, of course the main event is steak. The cheapest cut of these was an 8oz Bavette (£22) with chilli, onion and chimichurri, which we tried, along with a 10oz Ribeye (£44) with snails, garlic and bordelaise. We ordered these with a side of French fries (£4) and potato purée (£5) to share. Steak purists may pull a puckered face here, as Fleming adds flair to his meat by decorating it with the accompanying dish components. Definitely a Marmite moment: either love it or hate – we loved it.
Desserts were chosen in the form of Blackcurrant soufflé with liquorice ice cream (£9), and a Coconut, Pineapple and Tonka Bean Mousse (£7) with mango jelly and pineapple sorbet. Blackcurrant and liquorice are flavours that pair deliciously. The temperature contrasts heightened this pairing, with the heat of the soufflé against the coolness of the ice cream. The mousse was a curious tropical option, without necessarily the flavour hit that chocolate may delivery, but elegantly presented.
All the dishes were served on plates in black and gold with feather designs, matching the peacock theme throughout The Baptist. The venue has gone to extra special effort to ensure a matching theme. And if that isn’t enough to believe how extra this venue is, don’t forget to check out the tear drop mirrors and glass, bee-shaped taps in the bathroom.
The Baptist Bar and Grill has definitely maximised the uniqueness of its architecture, with the chapel dome being the focal point for the venue. By splitting the venue into two levels, there is a more intimate bar area, and lofty restaurant (albeit one in which acoustics may give away your conversation). We enjoyed the playful flair of the presentation of the food, but suggest checking with whoever you’re inviting if they will appreciate a mini woodland atop their steak – simplicity is apparently not the done thing at The Baptist Bar and Grill.
At over £60 per person for three courses (not including drinks or service), The Baptist Bar and Grill is not a cheap option, but this price point does reflect the quality of the food and level or service received.
Baptist Bar and Grill is located at L’Oscar London, 2-6 Southampton Row, London, WC1B 4AA
Visit baptistgrill.com or call 020 3859 3070 to book or for more information.