What’s the vibe?
Now that Dry January is a distant memory – well done you! – you might be excited to know that the wine bar is back. But forget straw-covered bottles of Chianti and exotic garlic bread. The elegant 21st-century designer wine bar is more likely to serve perfectly chilled vintage Champagne than warm Chardonnay, with quinoa taking the place of day-old quiche.
A case in point is 28°-50° in Covent Garden, just a hop, skip and jump from The Ivy (and Stringfellows), a chichi joint that serves an impressive selection of wines and fizzes and Modern European food courtesy of chef Julien Baris.
What are the veggie options?
Before we get to the food, an honourable mention to 28-50’s extensive wine lists, which have something for all tastes and budgets, with some wines exclusive in the UK, including the Chateau de Candie from the restaurant’s own vineyard in the Alps. We managed to resist the 1998 Châteauneuf du Pape, Château Rays (£795) and went instead for an excellent by-the-glass 2018 Verdicchio Dei Castelli di Jesi (£5), and a 2018 Sangiovese Rubicone (£4.70).
To soak them up we enjoyed stand-out starters, including tasty – and impressively large – Truffle Arancini, the perfect start to any dinner in my opinion, and a very good Grilled Halloumi with Quinoa, Citrus, Kale and Fresh Herbs.
Unlike the overdone, rubbery cheese we vegetarians have come to know and love, the halloumi here was done to perfection, crisp but still nice and moist. Beetroot Salad was good too – firm golden beets with fig, onion purée and pinenuts. My main was less impressive. Billed as Grilled Hispi Cabbage with Pumpin Purée, Quinoa, Chermoula, it was a generous slice of today’s superstar green that was let down by flavourless quinoa lacking any oompf.
But as with any new restaurant, the menu is evolving, so watch this space to see if they go for my suggestion of adding chipotle mayonnaise. (Well, they did ask!) There’s a Roasted Butternut Squash main, too, which our waitress promised us was really tasty and well spiced. One thing that really came through in all the dishes we ate was the quality and freshness of ingredients.
And for meat eaters
A selection of Snowdonian Welsh Black X 28-day aged steaks – rib eye, sirloin and fillet – are on offer, from 8oz to 16oz, so there’s something for every meaty appetite. There’s a “Famous” hot dog and an “Infamous” cheeseburger – we weren’t able to find out what made them so – and fish pie, too.
My mate A. went for the Seared Tuna, served here with Asian broth, bok choy, shiitake, toasted peanut and coriander cress, which he declared, ‘perfect, pink, excellent’.
Service was friendly and attentive, our waitress happy to make food and wine suggestions and genuinely interested in our feedback (chipotle mayonnaise!).
This sister restaurant of Marylebone’s 28-50, the Covent Garden outpost has a lovely room – light and airy with plush velvety seating and panelled walls. Sit at a table at the far end, away from the bar, for a good spot of people watching.
Well cooked, quality food and friendly staff eager to ensure you enjoy a great meal are reasons to visit. But just as wine bar design has evolved, so has pricing. Starters are around £10-£13, mains £13-£23 (£35 for the biggest steak) meaning it’s a special evening kind of place, rather than somewhere to pop into after work. But there’s the promise of something special here.
Words by Steven Short
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