I stumbled across 28-50 in Fetter Lane a couple of years ago just after it opened, as it is a stone's throw from my office. It has become a sort of second office for me now, a place to take clients or just to pop in after work, to make the commute home on the Central Line a little more bearable.
Being a shrewd fellow, Xavier (who co-owns the place with Agi, the chef at their other marvellous joint, Texture) realised that if he truly wanted to take every penny I have, he should open his next venture at the other end of my commute. So he has. My natural wend home means that (unless I take a detour) I have to pass this new venture every night. I've been three times in the first week. This is not a good sign for my wallet.
Although the new branch has the same moniker as the original (denoting the degrees of latitude between which, at least until global warming really kicks in, the majority of the world's grapes are grown), it is hard to call it a chain, as the feel and style is so very different. Fetter Lane has a small, blink-and-you-miss-it entrance that takes you down into an Aladdin’s Cave of a restaurant/wine bar. The Marylebone branch is light and open, with two of the walls of the wedge shaped bar off Wigmore Street being glass, and the whole dominated by a V shaped, zinc topped bar. The third wall is an array of wooden wine boxes, that turn out to be used for storage.
Downstairs there’s an open kitchen and a few more tables. The only disappointing thing upstairs is that Westminster Council has not seen fit to allow tables outside: the sooner it sees the error of its ways the better.
As with the Fetter Lane branch, there is an excellent selection of wines by the glass, carafe or bottle as well as the “collectors list” of top notch wines at just over retail prices, allowing you to taste some great wines with restaurant food at little more than you would pay to sample at home.
To ensure that things run smoothly, a number of the Fetter Lane crew have been shipped in to oversee operations, and the service is excellent: friendly, efficient and knowledgeable.
As a restaurant, the place is already full; as for bar snacks, including burger on the list alongside charcuterie and cheese is genius, and the triple cooked chips get a ten out of ten. OK, so the burger round the corner at Meatliquor might be better, but the version at 28-50 is lovely, you don’t have to queue in the cold and damp, don’t have to peer through the gloom to see the menu, get much better chips, far, far better wine and service that is streets ahead.
So if you want to be trendy, want to catch cold for your food, go to Meatliquor. If you want good food and fantastic wine in a friendly atmosphere whilst watching the world go by, go to 28-50.