28-50 are serious about wine. One glance at the list is enough to reveal that these chaps are offering one of the most interesting and varied lists in London, overseen by co-owner and Master Sommelier Xavier Rousset, who also owns restaurant and Champagne bar Texture with Icelandic chef Agnar Sverrisson.
A statement of intent is fired off from the very top of the list, highlighting the recent innovation of the revolutionary ‘Coravin’ system which allows fine wines to be opened without any degradation of the rest of the bottle: playtime for sommeliers. The first wine listed takes in Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru ‘Clavoillon’ from the iconic Domaine Leflaive, as well as being the much lauded 2002 vintage. These kind of wine ‘moves’ are only seen in the very best restaurants in town. With other wines in this opening section including Mazoyères-Chambertin Grand Cru from Taupenot-Merme and a Bordeaux from Château Palmer, Margaux, diners will quickly realise that you can drink extremely well here.
Before lunch we kick off with a dry German Riesling from the Pfalz, ‘Johannishof’ 2012, from top estate Knipser, a great example of the ‘trocken’ style that could convert any unbeliever to the glories of dry German wines.
Prawn Cocktail (£7.50)
We were pleased to start with a Prawn Cocktail (£7.50), a dish now being reclaimed from the era of 1970’s naffness, and rather than being presented in the old school fashion of tall glass, this is no faff presentation on a plate: pickled cucumber, iceberg lettuce, fronds of dill, sweet prawns. Arise the prawn cocktail, we’re pleased to have you back.
Crispy Fried Whiting (£7.50)
Roasted aubergine and courgette (£6.95)
We continue with some Crispy Fried Whiting (£7.50) with a crisp panko coating with a perky, lime charged Thai style dressing, alongside a virtuous dish of roasted aubergine and courgette, wrapped into little roundels with marinated peppers on a slick of crème fraîche (£6.95).
Seabream Carpaccio (£7.95)
A focus of the menu is the excellent seafood counter. We order two of the ‘cold’ selection which end up being a couple of the highlights of our lunch. A Seabream Carpaccio (£7.95) with pickled radish and blue borage flowers arrives looking like a work of art, meaty chunks of fish lifted by the spark of pickled radish.
Scallop Ceviche (£9.50)
Scallop Ceviche (£9.50) of the thinnest slivers of scallop, and a lively citrussy yuzu and vanilla dressing is another winner, alongside a chilled soba noodle salad. Uplifting, delicate, sparky flavours. A Chablis 2012 from Domaine Garnier copes admirably with both dishes, keeping pace with the pickle and citrus elements with ease.
Foie Gras and Chicken Liver parfait (£7.95)
We throw ourselves into a glistening slab of Foie Gras and Chicken Liver parfait which is set off cutely with a rhubarb and elderflower jelly which has a quite indecent ‘wobble’ (maybe it’s just us, our minds were straying), slathered onto crisp sourdough. An inadvertent wine matching which we stumble across is the zesty and off-dry Croatian Riesling from biodynamic estate Bolfan, their Rajnski Rizling 2011 a very decent counterpoint to the rich slab of liver. Sauternes shmauternes, this match was a great combination.
Crab Tortellini (£7.95)
A Crab Tortellini (£7.95) comes in a miso broth that demands being hoovered up until the last drop, including what remains in the jug alongside: an Asian accented take on the classic Italian dish of ‘tortellini in brodo’.
Strawberry Soup (£6)
Valrhona Chocolate Tart (£7.50)
Cheese selection (£3.50 each, £8.75 for 3)
Dessert choices include a Strawberry Soup (£6), a refreshing finish alongside a vibrant rhubarb sorbet on a sablé biscuit lurking under the surface, and a dense Valrhona Chocolate Tart (£6) with salted caramel ice cream. We share some good aged Comté cheese also from a selection which includes Pont D’Yeu, Secret de Couvent and Machecoulais from the Loire Valley, alongside British cheese Barkham Blue from Wokingham (£8.75 selection of three).
The rest of the menu sprawls across all the major bases, seared scallops and a grilled fish of the day, rib-eye steaks and spatchcocked chicken, a cheeseburger and a steak sandwich: pricing is particularly attractive when you realise 28-50 is officially Mayfair.
We cast a covetous glance at the rest of the wine list, which shimmers with some of the finest wineries on the planet, with a particularly detailed Burgundy list taking in plenty of heavyweight names, and there is an obsessive list of Champagne growers. Take a look in the room downstairs and you can lust over some of the top wines in the wine fridges: how very dare they tempt us like this.
Judging from the crowd of diners on our visit, it’s a fine place for business lunching and deal closing, with a wine list that is screaming out for a big expense account to be unleashed upon it — time to put a call in to the boss…
28-50 Maddox Street
17-19 Maddox Street, Mayfair, London, W1S 2QH