28-50 is named after the degrees of latitude between which most vineyards are located - a grape-strewn band of deliciousness which brings joy, inspiration and the occasional hiccup to the rest of the world. Despite the plethora of influences this name implies, however, the interior of this new Fetter Lane wine bar is understated and calm, a wood-themed underground lair of the kind that Bacchus would repair to in one of his less rambunctious moods. We liked the soft green leather banquettes and were particularly drawn to their private dining spaces: cosy, half-secluded areas which will provide a sophisticated atmosphere for parties and, invariably, more than a couple of boozy meetings.
The bar, opened by the team behind Mayfair's Texture, aims to lead customers on a 'journey of discovery' by offering a wide-ranging, constantly changing selection of wines in affordable sizes. Visiting during their soft-opening (they officially open today) we were excited to discover over 30 wines on their current menu, all available in measures ranging from 75ml to a full bottle. A diligent sample of the former proved that everything, from the cheapest house red (£1.95) to the priciest St Emilion Grand Cru (£5.95), is very palatable and although these wines occasionally lack the soul of those stocked at nearby El Vino, the bar's additional collector's list more than makes up for this. This list, the bar's principal raison d'etre, contains older, finer wines which are owned by the founders' friends and sold on consignment for consumption in 28-50. Although there are a few champagnes and interesting whites the bulk of the current list is red and, having done a quick price comparison with Berry Bros & Rudd, we'd say you might find some real bargains.
28-50 is not just a 'wine workshop', offering monthly tastings at £25 per head, but also a 'kitchen'.The menu is gastropub-esque (in price and in content) and although it's short on sharing options there's a fair amount of variety in the main menu. We tried a smoky grilled aubergine loaded with almonds, tomato, rocket and Moroccan spices, as well as their pork belly: two fat fingers of pork swimming in a mix of jus, ham chunks and braised cabbage, crowned with crisp curls of crackling. Despite a few flaws (extra chunks of pig did not compliment an already fatty, overly chewy pork dish) the softly-opened kitchen definitely showed promise and excelled with its desert menu, from which a deliriously light and creamy Rhum baba was a definite highlight.
28-50 will undoubtedly become popular, so we'd recommend investigating it before the rest of the capital staggers out of the pub after the world cup. Incidentally, however, the latitude of London is 51°30′28″N, so you might not want to tell this intrepid Londoner...
28-50, 140 Fetter Lane, EC4 1BT. Open from 11am-11pm, nearest tubes Temple/Chancery Lane.