Every Saint has a past and every sinner has a future – Oscar Wilde.
Have you ever discovered a place that takes you back to a more glamorous, hedonistic period in time? Where women wore flapper dresses and feathers, men wore hats with tuxedos, and all were surrounded by luxurious leather, parquet floors, baroque busts and deep dark mahogany walls?
If all of this doesn’t sound familiar, it’s because you are yet to experience the wonder that is L’oscar hotel. Named after Mr Hedonism himself, Oscar Wilde, and aptly sitting in the beautiful old HQ of a Baptist Church, the first hotel in the UK by Jacques Garcia is a little special.
On entering the hotel, we are led down a dramatic hallway, surrounded by delicate glass birds on every cornice, glowing from within. This playfully indulgent ambience continued in the main bar, with opulent purple and gold upholstery and live music is played every Thursday and Friday evening. Celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Negroni by launching a ‘Homage to Negroni’ cocktail menu, showcasing some of the popular twists like the Theatrical Negroni: Christopher Wren gin, rosemary and thyme infused cynar, vermouth blend and olive oil.
Just on the other side of the bar is a heated outdoor cigar terrace complete with a just launched comprehensive list of cigars. I feel like I’ve just discovered the best kept secret in London!
Located on Southampton Row in Holborn, the area is within a whisper of the City, Theatreland, Soho and the West End. This lavish new boutique hotel exudes Garcia’s trademark exclusive, expansive feel throughout, despite only having 39 sumptuously decorated bedrooms. The Baptist Grill is breath taking and sits within the old chapel, blissfully retaining many of its original features.
As I look at the menu, we are served warm bread with a delicate teardrop shaped caramelised yeast butter – it is divine. I stop myself from ordering more when I see a curious sounding coronation crab salad on the menu. We order that, alongside a mushroom foie gras.
The foie gras has a tart plum preserve alongside, and sets a saintly tone. Our resounding favourite was that coronation crab salad, served like a dessert in intricate circular layers of white crab, fresh and dried mango, lettuce, breadcrumbs, and only the slightest hint of curry. I am enamoured, I want to lick the plate. It is a truly exceptional dish, and one I can see myself ordering again and again, huddled by an altar window with a bottle of champagne. Heaven.
The celestial feelings continue with the main courses – a dover sole with preserved lemon and a rib-eye with snail ravioli, garlic and bordelaise (red wine) sauce. The ribeye is a generous 10oz portion, with powerful garlicky overtones from vleverly ravioli’d molluscs.
We are again captivated by what is described as a simple green salad, with olive, fennel and avocado cream dressing. It is fresh, crunchy, cleanses the palate and merits being served as a man course at any religious occasion! The Dover sole, a generous portion of two fillets, is deboned meticulously tableside. It is silky smooth, and barely needs the fork to cut through white soft flesh.
I spot a blackberry soufflé on the menu. No one can say no to soufflé, I tell myself as I order one as well as a cremeux with salted caramel peanuts and chocolate brownie. The souffle is classically wobbly, soft, lilac and delectable. The cremeux arrives at the table looking like an oval of white mousse with grated chocolate on the top. Yet there is another surprise, a layer cake of loveliness, with the creme revealing an indulgent banana puree and moist brownie underneath.
Finally, we were given a reason to come back soon for a new Summer menu full of new dishes and seasonal touches. We leave the restaurant looking to the skies at the top of the dome, blessed to have eaten such a luxurious meal and attentive service to match. If you’re looking for a spiritual gourmet experience surrounded by elegance of times gone by, look no further than The Baptist Grill at L’oscar.
To book, visit: baptistgrill.com
By Geeta Kana