The Baptist at L’Oscar in Holborn: British grill reimagined with simplicity and sophistication
The Baptist offers an experience few could forget. This starts from the Edwardian Free Baroque decoration itself, the fine-dining space having been designed by no other than Jacques Garcia, the architect behind places like the iconic Hôtel Costes in Paris, who has managed to keep an air of modernity and sophistication while preserving its classic English spirit.
Tony Fleming looks after the menu this time around, with a focus on the reimagining of the British grill. The Michelin-starred chef keeps impressing us with a well-thought-out combination of dishes characterised by exquisite flavours, simplicity and European undertones.
Before jumping into the food, we had the chance to savour some of the cocktails, humorously baptised as either Old or New Testament. We had a sip of Pride, champagne-based and beautifully decorated with part of a page from The Picture of Dorian Gray, and Patience from the Old Testament side of the menu. Along with these original concoctions, The Baptist counts on an extensive drinks list that goes from single malt whisky to the most interesting tempranillo you can find in town.
Moving onto the starters, we decided to prepare our palates with a portion of (incredibly fresh) Seared Scallops, delicately placed among caramelised chicory and sweet onions, which provided a great contrast to the half-grilled sea flavour of the shellfish. With that also came a generous cut of Loch Duart smoked Salmon on a bed of apple and potato salad, accompanied by horseradish and cucumber ketchup. Light, yet with a strong taste and a melting texture, this was just how all salmon should be. The last of our starter selection consisted of the classic go-to: Foie Gras. The pâté was served with a side of sourdough bread and plum preserve, which nicely enhanced the spices within it.
When there wasn’t a morsel left from these great plates, the second part of the dinner came in with two glasses of a full-bodied Spanish tempranillo. For mains, we went for the Butternut Pithivier with mustard fruits, a soft and juicy pie with a mushy, sage-infused butternut filling. The star of the night, however, was without a doubt the English Veal T-Bone, with anchovies, rosemary and roasted garlic – a feast we wished could have lasted longer.
We always have some space left for dessert so we challenged ourselves to try at least two of the best-looking offerings on the menu. We ended up ordering the Baked Majari Chocolate Mousse and the Rosemary and Buttermilk Panna Cotta, and it seemed we weren’t far off. The first dish reminded us of the traditional chocolate mousse, with a somewhat obvious red fruits contrast, which, although not surprising, was very delicious and comforting. Secondly, for the more adventurous fellow diners, came the pannacotta, which was presented and textured against traditions. The blood orange sorbet made it particularly interesting, as well as the crunchy white chocolate crumble.
If you fancy superb grilled meat, a romantic environment and great drinks, you should pay a visit to the Baptist Grill as soon as possible. It won’t disappoint.
Photos: Cristiana Ferrauti (except header)
To book a table at the Baptist Grill at L’Oscar, 2-6 Southampton Row Holborn London WC1B 4AA, call 020 7405 5555 or visit their website here.