The Baptist, London WC1: restaurant review
Try British and European seasonal Josper-grilled dishes in a grand Edwardian setting
Looking for restaurants in Holborn? Read our review of The Baptist grill and bar, and check out more suggestions for eating in the West End here.
The Baptist in a nutshell
British and European seasonal Josper-grilled dishes served beneath a grand octagonal dome at the ritzy L'oscar hotel in Holborn.
What's the vibe?
Located upstairs at the far end of the decadent Baroque-style, marble-floored L’oscar hotel lobby, The Baptist’s octagonal dining room is set in a low-lit, high-ceilinged mezzanine gallery within the dome of a converted Edwardian chapel.
Simply set square wooden tables contrast with plush violet velvet tub armchairs and banquettes. Service is attentive and old-school courteous, setting the tone for a more upmarket dining experience.
What's the food like?
The pared-back menu comes from executive chef Tony Fleming (previously of Michelin-starred City fish restaurant Angler) and the mains centre on a selection of charcoal-grilled meats: the dry-aged, grass-fed Cumbrian beef ribeye was meltingly soft, the smoky charring pairing pleasingly with a succulent marbling of fat (the accompanying sweet shallots do the trick, and the extravagant additions of mini earthy mushroom ravioli and butter-soft snails, though well executed, don’t add much).
Elsewhere on the menu, a curried lamb shepherd’s pie was mild yet deeply spiced, lifted by a light, refreshing mango chutney alongside.
The portions are generous so try not to fill up too much beforehand on the slices of warm sourdough slathered with umami-rich caramelised yeast butter.
Starters-wise, the coronation crab salad with mango and pickled lime was a deftly dressed winner; and the beautifully presented, wafer-thin octopus carpaccio boasted turbo-sweet datterini tomatoes and watermelon, though the punchy green olive dressing was a touch overpowered for the octopus itself.
And for dessert, opt for the baked chocolate mousse (light and fluffy yet darkly cocoa-rich), classically paired with intense preserved cherries and a blackberry sorbet.
If you arrive early or have some time after your meal, head downstairs to the opulent Baptist Bar – the biblically themed cocktails are delicious: Pride, a combo of jasmine-infused vodka, lime and sage sherbert, champagne and star anise, stood out with its refreshing citrus tang and light tongue-tingling fizz.
The Baptist Bar & Grill, L’oscar London, 2-6 Southampton Row, London WC1B 4AA
Words by Dominic Martin
Photographs by Paul Winch-Furness