Set in the heart of Mayfair lies 28-50 Wine Workshop & Kitchen, one of three venues dotted around central London, with the Maddox Street venue the newest addition to the eatery brand. The name is referring to the set latitude sweet spots across the globe where most of the world’s vineyards can be found. If the name doesn’t giveaway the wine specialism then this knowledge should.
Like many things in the discerning gents world, this concept has been born out of a vision held by people with a passion – in this case the restaurant industry. The inspiration here comes from master sommelier Xaxier Rousset (creator of Texture) and top chef Agnar Sverrison (Head Chef at Le Manoir aux Quat Saisons). Together they’ve merged the traditional wine bar experience with that of a high level gastro pub seamlessly.
The Look, The Feel
Entering 28-50 you’re greeted with a warm welcome and stylish, yet relaxed, surroundings – the perfect combination to make you feel at ease. Lighting is subdued but not dark so that you cannot see what’s around you – an important aspect as there are many visuals to feast on before you even start on the food.
Walls are striped back to bare brickwork and the fixtures have a raw, but still urban, look to it. Seating is a combination of tables for two and more, with larger areas available in the basement level. Bar seating is also available to enjoy the seafood counter and small plates menu if your diary dictates a speedier affair. Being a wine bar, there are bottles of it everywhere and you’ll be hard-press to stop yourself trying to decipher vintages and regions with every glance. It’s the kind of venue that works perfectly for the more casual business meeting or for leisurely social catch-ups.
After getting settled into our table for the evening it was time to check out the menu. 28-50 works on the principle of simple dishes involving well-cooked food with fresh ingredients. The menu isn’t too fussy or complicated, with just the right number of options to sate the palate of most. For starters we opted for the crab tortellini (£7.95) and the seared scallops with black pudding (£11.95). As you’d expect from a venue that focuses on wine, there is plenty to choose from but the in-house sommelier is a master at paring wines to dishes, in this instance recommending two fantastic whites to compliment the seafood-based starters.
Arriving at the table, the smell of the scallops and crab dance around the nose. The discerning gent enjoys an element of theatre to his dining experience and on this occasion the simple act of our waiter pouring the broth over the tortellini struck the right note. The food itself was delightful – the delicate scallops were perfectly seared and combining well with the rich black pudding while the crab tortellini really hitting the mark. The white wines pared just as recommended too.
The starters set the benchmark and the mains were eagerly anticipated. There’s no rush at 28-50 so if you’re still enjoying wines selected for the previous course then you’re free to coast along to conversation before nodding for the mains. Our choice for mains were the pan fried cod (£14.95) and the 220g US rib eye steak (£24.50) with sides of vegetables and chips (£3.50 each).
The measure of a good restaurant is how they get the simple things right and the steak test is a good indication. On this occasion it was requested medium and arrived medium, full of meaty vigour and grilled flavour. The cod was a perfect portion of flesh swimming in sumptuous sauce. Amongst the relaxed setting these were meals to be enjoyed with good conversation and great wine. Again the sommelier on hand to recommend two exquisitely pared tipples – a fresh and fruity white with the fish and deep red to compliment the steak. Of course wines are available by the bottle, carafe or glass so if your preference is for one varietal through the meal that’s fine too.
With the great taste of the mains lingering on the palate it was time to round off this leisurely meal with desert to satisfy any sweet tooth cravings. Seasonal fruit desserts are available with the traditional classics and cheese too. The chocolate tart (£5.75) and a piece of cheese with crackers and chutney (£3.50) was the preference here. To carry on the wine theme our sommelier recommended two dessert wines – one to cut through the delicious richness of the chocolate tart and the other to work well with the creamy cheese. Like any culinary journey you need a beginning, a middle and an end which 2850 certainly provided with a compelling narrative throughout.
28-50 brings to London what other wine bars have been trying, with varying levels of success, to achieve in the past. The concept is nothing new, but people don’t dine on concepts – they’d rather enjoy good food done well amongst a contemporary setting. 28-50 does the food and drink combination very well without getting too fussy about it. Its food menus are reflective of this approach and the informed staff bring the concept to life. 28-50 is perfect for the discerning gent looking for a casual dining experience in the knowledge that levels of sophistication in the drinking can be raise a notch or two higher if required.
Style: French Bistro
Contact: 17-19 Maddox Street, Mayfair, W1S 2QH – Tel. 0207 495 1505