Review | 28º-50º Wine Workshop and Kitchen

India Fisher would struggle with 28-50. The Masterchef narrator, you see, is very fond of using the rustbucketing cliche ‘in the heart of’ to describe a restaurant’s location. It’s a crap expression and is a lazy writer’s perceived upgrade from the simple preposition ‘in’. So the problem for Ms. Fisher will be that 28-50 isn’t really in the heart of anywhere. It’s sort of City but kind of in Smithfield, but not far south of Clerkenwell/Bloomsbury, and it’s walking distance from Holborn. It’s in no man’s land, and this might be problematic for footfall. Add to that its terrible name. Is it some kind of 18-30s club but for older people? Is that the address? Or the price of the dishes? It’s actually the latitudes between which wine is made. So presumably as global warming accelerates, the name will have to be changed. Or something.

Either way, I do hope these two potential stumbling blocks are overcome, because it’s a great place. I went on its third day with a couple of the gals from Sainsbury’s Magazine and we had a lovely time. So spanking new that the whiff of paint still hangs in the air, the space is grey-blue Farrow and Ball walls, exposed brickwork and wooden tables. Yadda yadda standard bistro shtick but it works well (the space, that is, not my description of it). There is a lofty mezzanine with private tables which would be a blast, because you’d have a room to yourself without being detached from the action.

And the food was almost entirely without fault. Chef Paul Walsh is from the Ramsay stable, and has put together a largely French menu of tidily cooked and well-presented dishes. We started with good charcuterie (£9.50) – chorizo, Serrano, coppa etc (which wanker said it was a French menu?) with some seriously excellent pickled radishes, shallots and cornichons. Coupled with toast and a top notch baguette it was as good a way to start lunch as any. Cod brandade with chorizo and grilled sweet peppers (£5.50) was cloying but somehow in a pleasant way, the chorizo and peppers adding zip to what is essentially fish mash. Duck rillettes (£7.00) were rich and melting and all sorts of other slow-cook-cliches, served with the standard but necessary scattering of piquant cornichons. Sarah’s gazpacho (£6.00) was total perfection; clean and smooth, it was more essence of gazpacho than the usual thick and inelegant slop, and had a nice kick to it. The prawn salad in the middle had a touch of Ramsay but the soup was all the better for it.

We only ordered one main, a piece of red mullet in a bouillabaisse (£14.50). It was superb – the bouillabaisse deeply fishy with the added freshness of fennel and, I think, orange, and the fish was well cooked.

It being lunchtime we drank only a small carafe of dry Riesling, but by the look of things the wine list is pretty booya.

The only criticism we had was a rather mean side salad, which wouldn’t have filled a ham sandwich. A small gripe with an otherwise grand new rezzy, and even though it is geographically in the heart of nowhere, it certainly found a small corner of mine. And that, dear reader, is how you write a cheesy conclusion.

8/10

28-50 Wine Workshop and Kitchen,
140 Fetter Lane,
London EC4A 1BT

020 7242 8877

9 Comments

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9 responses to “Review | 28º-50º Wine Workshop and Kitchen

  1. As it happens I’ve just finished having lunch in 28-50 and the winelist is indeed booya. Agree with you about the gazpacho but you missed a treat in a seriously good onglet with triple fried (I would guess) chips.

    I don’t agree though that the restaurant is in the middle of nowhere. It’s just off Fleet Street which of course used to be the main watering hole of Britain’s best known hacks. A grand tradition revived

  2. It’s next to my office :p

  3. ‘A piece of red mullet in a bouillabaisse’ eh? Whatever next? ‘A chicken thigh in a coq au vin’? ‘A lamb shoulder in a kleftiko’? Seems like rather silly dish-naming to me, although no less than I would expect from somewhere that calls itself a ‘Wine Workshop and Kitchen’. Nomenclature quibbles aside, it sounds decent enough and should vaut le visite from the more culinary-minded of the area’s legal eagle population.

    As for cheesy conclusions, I’ll see yours and raise you this one: http://bit.ly/TPFP_Rvngtn

    • A’right you sarky bastard, that is basically what it was. Less ‘fish stew’ and more ‘soup with fried mullet’. But it were d-lish. Really spectacular.

      Could be the venue for our next din dins, though fewer fiery haired waitresses and Prince Willy lookalikes.

  4. I do not understand the near universal inability of restaurants to do a decent side salad. The cost is near negligable so it may as well be something of seasonal beauty.

    • In their defence the leaves were good, but it was just stingy and underdressed. But on the whole you’re absolutely right. Amazing how few places do a decent salad. J

  5. Menu sounds lovely. Daft name, though, as you almost say. And I agree with Fiona – I wouldn’t call Fetter Lane the middle of nowhere. Doesn’t Agnar Sverrisson have something to do with this place?

    • No, nor would I – but somehow you go there and it just feels a little out of the way. Or p’raps that’s just me. It might also be the fact that you have to duck down into the basement. Anyhoo, ’twas all good.

      He does indeed. J

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