28-50, Mayfair, lovely smart brasserie with cracking wine

If you had told me 12 years ago, when my office moved to Maddox St, that the area would be home to some of the best restaurants in London I would have taken my cremated all day Benjy's breakfast baguette or Ponti's ciabatta and chased you into the empty void of the Stone Horse for your impudence. However here we are in 2013 and the street itself boasts Hibiscus with 2 michelin stars and Goodman, the best steakhouse in London, in a dowdy side street Jason Atherton has the HQ of his burgeoning empire (Pollen St Social, Little Social) and a further stager away is Wild Honey. Ok we still have a Subway and the golf sale shop but nowadays people have actually heard of Maddox St. So dining is good but this week it improved further with the opening of 28-50 Wine Workshop. It has a couple of sister establishments one in Marylebone and another up in the city. The focus is very much on the wine with a very varied and comprehensive offering. I can't say I'm an expert myself but the afternoon I went in Steven Spurrier himself was in having a tasting.

Now impeccable pedigree aside what struck me about my visit to 28-50 was how welcoming it is. It has a big glass frontage where you can see into the bar and room, this is a departure from the snobby elitist feel that is often the norm. When I popped in for lunch last week I was warmly greeted by the front desk who were positively enthused by a lone diner who wanted to sit at the bar. The room is lovely, the afore-mentioned glass frontage with lights up the fairly industrial looking interior. Seating is at the front and around the side of the bar but the bar is where the action is. Very comfy bar stools and an old school zinc topped bar give it a comfy feel. They have a seafood bar which I’m sat next to. I spend much of my meal watching the chef at work and figuring which of the live lobsters will make a break for freedom. The food menu is pretty simple. I go for the reasonable set lunch and a glass of Portuguese red. First up is a hearty portion of fried squid, tasty with a nice dipping sauce on the side. Next up is that often ruined dish, the steak sandwich. This one is very good I can actually taste the steak, the bread it very good, I would have possibly have preferred fried onions rather than the pickled used here but it's very nice and filling. I wasn't going to have anything to follow but the waitress tempts me with a slice of comte. It comes with toasted fruit bread and is delicious.

It is a 3/4 full on Friday lunchtime and there is a nice buzz in the room. It all feels quite effortless and chilled out which as I mentioned before is not always the case with wine bars. Towards the end of the meal Dave from Goodman pops in for a drink and he introduces me to the guys who run it. They buy us a glass of wine which is a nice touch. It's certainly a spot to linger and somewhere I'm keen to return to. The fact it has a raw seafood bar is a real draw as there is nothing quite like that this side of Regent's St. It is also very reasonable, lunch just over £20 which is a bargain. The staff were all friendly and happy which really makes a difference. I am very keen to go back either for a drink or another bite to eat, whichever I do I'm very sure I will be made to feel as you can see Maddox St just got even better.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Overall rating
Food 8 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 9 | Value for money 9

I use here a fair bit as it is just down from the office. Very nice smart feel to the place. If I do have a criticism it's that the chef likes to plate up on boards & slates instead of sticking to good old plates. However the food is great

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