The first of the Texture Restaurant Group’s three 28-50 venues sits at the Fleet Street end of Fetter Lane, behind expressionless glass doors and a flight of stairs into the basement. This is corporate territory, and the exterior of 28-50 looks like one of the serviceably blank canvases you pick for a work event knowing it won’t ruffle any feathers or be remotely controversial.
But drop down into the basement restaurant, and they’ve achieved the unlikely. It’s a wooden-floored room with wine stacked high against the walls in cabinets and the smell of warm bread being brought to the next table. It’s not a complete cocoon – this is a weekday evening and the other people at 28-50 are almost exclusively suited, briefcases leaning against the bases of barstools – but there’s a layer of insulation between you and street level, with enough cosiness to justify the date or two that seem to be going on at the nearby tables.
We’re here for dinner, but it’s clear some of the clientele are treating this as a spot for a quick after-work drink and bar snacks. And you could do worse than the selection here for both of those. The wine menu, chosen by head sommelier Alan Bednarski, is as impressive as you’d expect – and more democratic than you might, with prices by the bottle spanning from vertiginously high to affordable.
At the Fetter Lane venue there’s the further draw of an extra, specialist wine menu, changing regularly with wine from private collections, many of them not usually found in other restaurants. And our starters – gravlax with a mustard dressing, and slices of cecina – would make for great bar snacks, the cecina a heap of dried, tender beef so generous you can see why people would come, sit at the bar and work through the full charcuterie selection.
We might be tempted to do the same, if main dishes weren’t already arriving for us. The flat iron steak is proof there’s good reason to make a dinner of it – and proof this is a kitchen that trusts people to mean it when they order rare steak. And Emily’s truffle risotto’s as liberally heavy with truffle as the cecina was generous earlier, 28-50 going for a French degree of richness across the European menu.
Technically, the Wine Workshop & Kitchen’s some or most of the things it seems at first glance: impeccable service, muted but welcoming decor and a menu doing a lot of classics right – you wouldn’t come here for a boundary-pushing or threateningly edgy experience, but you might come here for a reliably nice one.
If you worked in anything like a walkable distance you’d be thrilled to have this as an after-work option with enough candlelight and wood and more than enough – really, really good – wine to make a clear divide between you and your offices.
28 – 50 Wine Workshop & Kitchen, 140, Fetter Lane, EC4A 1BT. 0207 2428877. Website.