I’ve not yet been to the restaurant at the Holmes Hotel on Baker Street, but I’ve only heard good things, so when a friend suggests that it might be a good spot for lunch during a day of shopping, I jump at the chance to sample it. Inside the fire is blazing and the welcome is warm. The décor is classically modern, with herringbone floors, wood panelling and modern artwork on the walls; it feels very much like being in somebody’s – albeit Insta-perfect – home. I’m particularly taken with the open kitchen, which feels very domestic with its shaker-style units, and boasts a vast central island – the type I dream of installing in my own kitchen.
In the mood to celebrate, we opt for a couple of cocktails to open proceedings. Sherlock’s Pipe combines whisky and negroni in a show-stopping concoction that is presented in a pipe-shaped glass and delivered in a dramatic cloud of Applewood-scented smoke; while KT Time mixes hibiscus and elderflower with Beefeater gin, and is served from a teapot. If the team are going to make any allusions to Baker Street’s most famous fictional residents, this is surely the classiest way to do it. As we sip and peruse the menu, we tuck into crispy tempura aubergine, dinky mouthfuls of jamon Ibérico croquettes and divinely fluffy warm pita smothered in tahini.
Head chef Stefano Motta’s career has taken him across the globe, working in top restaurants in Italy, New York and London, and the seasonal menu is influenced by his travels, with an emphasis on ingredient provenance. After the indulgence of the silly season, we’re after something light and fresh, and Stefano delivers. Wasabi and ponzu give the yellow fin tuna tartare a delightful zing, and we fight over the last of the wafer thin and utterly delicious red prawn carpaccio. Afterwards, we share two salads: king crab and avocado, and roasted pumpkin and beetroot. The weather outside may be bitter, but these colourful and hearty bowls fill us with the joys of spring. There’s only so much virtue to go around, though, so we push the boat out with pud, opting for the chocolate and orange fiesta: a true party on a plate. Expectations met and tummies full, we head back to the shops, vowing to return soon when January diets are done with.