Just a short walk from the Leicester Square, 28:50 Wine Bar & Kitchen provides a welcome escape from the bustling crowds and fast city pace. The restaurant is still relatively new, launched only at the end of 2019, and is sister to the wine group’s second site in Marylebone. What first struck me about the restaurant was its name; if you’re into your wines you may have already spotted that 28°-50° is actually the optimum latitude where the finest grapes grow for wine production. And the restaurant definitely lives up to its name, offering a carefully curated wine list of just 15 red wines and 15 white wines, which is updated regularly. They also have a unique ‘Collector’s List’ of fine wines, including bottles you would rarely find at any other restaurant. The sommelier team works closely with executive chef, Julien Baris, to make sure they select wines that pair perfectly with his dishes – a combination of French and European cuisine, using only the freshest seasonal ingredients.
Lined with huge glass windows – even on the ceiling, 28:50 is a wonderfully light and spacious restaurant. Tall velvet stalls stand against the open bar and relaxing armchairs in muted pastel shades are nestled around the light marble tables. The decor is simple, with light wood paneling, contemporary low hanging lights, and artistic touches that perfectly bring together the concept of the wine bar.
Being in London’s West End, I can imagine 28:50 is usually crowded with business men and women, and pre and post theatre goers. But given recent circumstances, the restaurant was mostly frequented by smaller groups, couples enjoying date night or friends out to explore somewhere new. Good wine bars are hard to come by and you can be sure to find people who have travelled from all over London to taste the exceptional grapes and wonderful food.
We dined from the a la carte dinner menu, which is split into ‘small bites,’ ‘to share’, ‘starters’, ‘from the sea’, ‘28:50 classics’, and ‘desserts’. We tried something from every section. To start, we shared the truffle arancini, which came with a delicious truffle mayo that we ordered on repeat throughout the rest of the meal. This was accompanied by warm bread and whipped butter, an incredibly fresh crab salad, which came with mango and an avocado puree, and salmon ceviche, which was zesty from the citrus yet slightly spicy from the ginger and chilli, with calming undertones of sesame. We also had to try the grilled tiger prawns, meaty and full of flavour, though admittedly a little messy – not that we minded. We enjoyed all of this with a glass of 2018 Gavi di Gavi from Piedmont, Italy, which complimented the flavours of the food beautifully. It was a hard choice for our mains but we settled on two dishes, one from ‘the sea’ and a ‘classic’. From ‘the sea’, we had the seared tuna, with shiitake mushroom, bok choy and an asian broth – the broth came in a separate pot so that customers could pour this on themselves. The tuna was perfectly cooked and the broth delicately seasoned with flavours of umami. And for our ‘classic’ we tried the 10 oz steak, medium rare, served with fries and a side of stem broccoli – this is where we ordered extra truffle mayonnaise, which we unashamedly dipped the perfectly cooked chips into. This was all washed down with a large glass of 2016 V. Kekfrankos from Hungary – a wine I’ve never come across before but will certainly be looking out for in future. To finish, we shared the chocolate orange mousse, with a salted chocolate crumb – I savoured every mouthful. It was like Terry’s Chocolate Orange but 100 times better.
In a Nutshell
If you’re into your wine, this is certainly a restaurant to add to your list. The attention to detail is second-to-none. Staff are accommodating, wine is discussed with an infectious passion and the food is full of flavour. For those wishing to dine in large groups, there is plenty of outside space available and inside, the spacious redesign of the restaurant to suit restrictions allows for a safe and enjoyable experience.
10 Upper St Martin’s Lane, London, WC2H 9FB