When a restaurant sticks to its theme and name its running the risk of over extending the brand and not rolling back the frontiers. Corbin and King of Ivy and Wolseley fame are the most imaginative in delivering new concepts , names and styles . They do not always work, the excellent St Aubin closed rather quickly but the Wolseley is still going strong and Cafe Delauney full. 28/50 is sticking to the tried and tested at its new Maddox Street venue.
Any decent reviewer should first understand what the restaurant is trying to achieve. 28/50 describes itself in their 3 restaurants as “wine shop and kitchen.” It is quite different from its Michelin starred sister Texture but the 3 are clones. Its really a wine bar by any other name as the sommelier partner Xavier Rousset is successfully trying to project. His chef partner Agnar Sverrisen is the foodie . It’s a most successful combination so why change it as they opened their third in Maddox Street.
I went here with an old friend Gideon an Internet entrepreneur in the travel field for whom I have done some freelance reviewing over the years. He made the mistake and won’t be first of thinking we were meeting at the Marylebone Lane 28/50 which I have favourably reviewed.
The X factor is so many successful restaurants is the operations person and here Ed Newman who greeted us is at the top of the tree. And I’m not just saying that as he gave us complimentary champagne!!! Gideon said that whenever he is there the restaurant runs better.
28/50 operates the same menu and concept as the Marylebone one. Gideon went veggie with aubergine and then mushroom risotto. I tried the lunchtime menu as most diners would go for this.the butternut squash soup, rich, wholesome, was a resounding success. The ingredients are already on the plate with the soup poured over it. The Cornish skate was a tad dry. This is s dish I know welll and best treated with capers and black butter to give it more moisture. Neither of us had wine and the bill came to just over £60
Our only gripe was the waiter whose understanding was poor. My request for a double expresso was repeated as an americano and he had difficulty in taking the order. My first ‘proper’ boyfriend Yves who was at the Insead Business school liked to take me to the more traditional brasseries of the Paris left bank like La Coupole or La Closerie des Lilas . I remember a moustachioed waiter at La couple , a real character, who was there for years . In my columns, I like not merely to review a restaurant but to highlight an aspect of the whole gastronomic experience. Waitering is vital. Gideon and I agreed that in the more expensive restraints there is too much fussing and interference . Here there was a waiter not up to the job of taking the order let alone advising on it. I have commented in a previous columns on a delightful young woman serving us at the Garden Cafe: friendly, concerned, pretty, but always respectfully at a distance . i would be happy if one of my boys brought her home instead of some of the pasty faced ,greasy haired ,sour sluts Oliie amd I have had to endure over our breakfast. To Luke Thomas restaurant at the Sanctum on the Green I took my young niece Kate to dinner and the young waitress Ellie with much aplomb brandished the wine bottle forgetting to open it! how we laughed and Katie commented that at Uni she waitressed for some pin money and did this all the time!!! A classic case of transposing amateur waitering into an informal and amusing experience.
With Goodmans opposite and Pollen Street Social Club 50 yards away the new 28/50 has stiff competition but this will keep up standards whilst putting it in the path of the sort of diners they wish and deserve to attract.