By Maria Fedele
There are certain features that always work well in a wine bar. Aspects that, when put together, just match splendidly: a brilliant sommelier, dim lighting, moody background music and that little bit of je ne sais quoi. 28-50 Wine Workshop and Kitchen has it all in effortless abundance.
The Maddox Street venue is the newest of the three bistros of the same name from Michelin-starred chef Aggi Sverrisson of the famous Icelandic institution, Texture. Right in the heart of Mayfair, just a step away from Regent Street, the mysterious air of the façade beckons pedestrians to step in. The décor brilliantly mirrors the stylish bars of Paris, with moody lighting, rustic furnishings, sultry jazz music filling the room and huge front windows to indulge in that typical French custom of people watching. All aspects fuse together to create the right balance of romance and casual chic, accommodating anything from after work drinks to special occasions.
Wine is the very heart of the venture. Everything from the name – 28-50 represents the two latitudes where most grapes are grown – to the extensive and masterfully created wine list showcase Head Sommelier Clement Roberts’ impressive enthusiasm and knowledge of viniculture, ensuring that only the most divine wine makes it to the table. Rows of wine glasses hang from the ceiling, old crates line the walls, and used bottles adorn the window ledges to reaffirm that wine is 28-50’s priority, and a priority which they do well.
We kicked things off with a glass of the Henriot, Brut Souverain Champagne, which went down an absolute treat at 7pm on a Friday evening. From there, each of our dishes were expertly paired with a glass of the sommelier’s recommended wine of choice which effortlessly enriched the flavours of each course and complimented the chef’s menu perfectly.
Curated by Executive Chef Justin LeClair, the menu itself is reminiscent of Sverrison’s Icelandic heritage combined with modern European influences and a heavy focus on seafood dishes. For starters we indulged in grilled prawns served with aioli and the special of the day, creamy burrata (sourced from Campagna in Napoli) served on a bed of salad. Simple, delicious sauces and garnishes really bring out the freshness of the ingredients. Despite the servings being incredibly generous, the entrées were not devoid of flavour, proving that you can in fact have both quantity and quality. Our dishes were paired with glasses of crisp Chardonnay from South Africa and France respectively, which softened the richness of the seafood and the cheese dishes flawlessly.
A tender portion of Norfolk horn lamb shoulder was chosen as the main course. Cooked to perfection and served with a rich but not overpowering sauce, it is a hearty well-presented dish which was a real treat to devour, especially with a side of triple cooked chips and the heirloom tomato and ricotta salad. The fullness of the lamb was offset by a glass of the Campo Viejo Tempranillo Rioja 2015 with notes of red fruits and vanilla, and undertones of soft spices and cocoa.
Similarly, the pappardelle with ricotta, peas and broad beans and hints of mint and lemon was filling and the flavours harmonised well together. Albeit on the dry side and perhaps in need of a more substantial drizzle of olive oil, the pasta dish was a good vegetarian option. A glass of the fresh and balanced 2015 Verd Albera, Emporda from Spain, comprising of exotic fruity tones, helped to moisten the palate.
Being a huge fan of Eton Mess, my companion could not pass on the dessert menu and neither could I when my eyes scrolled across the Alphonso mango, passion fruit curd and lychee sorbet dish. The Eton Mess, topped with rose water, strawberries, raspberry sorbet and mint was pure heaven and was delectably washed down with a Champagne and Chambord cocktail which was a clever twist on the traditional Kir Royal. The mango dessert, on the other hand, was a sensational blend of sweet and sour, a perfect finish to an overall exceptional dining experience.
Staff were attentive, friendly and helpful. Both the sommelier and the waiter were incredibly engaging, informative and eager to illustrate the concept behind 28-50. The heavy focus on wine by no means impedes on the quality and class of the food, making this suave bistro a true fixture on the Mayfair dining scene and a standout choice amongst the myriad of alternatives.
To learn more, visit the 28-50 Wine Workshop and Kitchen website at http://www.2850.co.uk/maddox
Contributor Maria Fedele is an adventurous traveller and freelance writer from South Australia who has lived in Paris and currently calls London home.