When is a bar a workshop? When it is 28-50 one of the new additions to the London eating and drinking scene this year. The reference to workshop in the title seems to refer to the various wine tasting classes that are held here but in reality 28-50 is mainly a place to come for a meal matched with some great wine. Maybe the name was chosen so you can have a long lunch on a weekday and return to the office saying you have been at a workshop.
28-50 is a basement restaurant just off Fleet Street but has been kitted out to such a high standard that it doesn’t feel poky or gloomy at all. Soaring ceilings and quality hard timber set the tone while some personality is injected through quirky touches like intricate mirrors and the use of old wine crates in the furniture. I ate at 28-50 with a group of 12 or so friends to farewell Laissez Fare who is sadly heading back to the US and the restaurant coped really well with our large group offering us a set menu at £23.50 for two courses or £29.50 for three.
Kang told me 28-50 was run by the same people behind the Icelandic fine dining restaurant Texture and some of the influences are evident in the food menu which includes dishes such as Icelandic salt cod. However the food is more French in style than Icelandic featuring treats such as rillette and Onglet. The duck rillette was pink and meaty and Alice couldn’t get enough of it served in the traditional way with cornichons and toast. Cos lettuce and artichoke salad although elegant in its simplicity probably needs another ingredient to add a little wow factor.
I stole a bite of Mathilde’s Icelandic salt cod which was actually not salty at all despite the preserving process it has gone through and was served on a ratatouille and cous cous bed laced with chorizo. Onglet was cooked to the perfect state of medium and I really savoured the tender meat which was well seasoned and had a slight char to it. It came with a great accompaniment of choron sauce, which is béarnaise sauce laced with tomato and tarragon, and chunky chips. I skipped dessert and just went for the cheese plate which had a great selection from La Fromagerie and was generously included in the set menu without any additional dreaded “supplement”.
The thing that most impressed me though was the wine, after all 28-50’s very name is derived from the latitudes in which most wine regions are located. I think at 28-50 the food, although good, is almost secondary to the wine. The list was extensive and could be intimidating but the knowledgeable sommelier had paired some great wines with our meals and I also enjoyed trying out 28-50’s wine flight. The wine flight lets you try three different glasses of wine for £14.50 which allows you to compare wines from a certain region or a particular variety. With the help of the sommelier Laissez Fare picked some brilliant wines and if you go to 28-50 you must try the Mullineux Swartland a 2008 Syrah from South Africa. It was really light but with a complex almost smoky flavour to it and had me wondering where I could track down some bottles to buy and have at home. I can see myself holing up at 28-50 quite happily in winter time maybe for a meal but maybe just for a wine flight, or another bottle of that Syrah and a cheese plate.
Icelandic salt cod
Details: 140 Fetter Lane, EC4A 1BT (Ph 020 7242 8877) Tube: Chancery Lane
If you liked reading this you might be interested my review of the nearby wine bar Vinoteca or Bedales at Borough Market.