28:50 Marylebone (September 2012)

It was a pity that I chose to review 28:50 on this occasion. This was my fourth visit to the restaurant (twice previously for lunch and once for drinks in the evening) and each previous time I had liked it sufficiently to want to come back and indeed recommend it to friends. Today was a disappointment in several respects, but not sufficiently so to prevent returning in the future. On the positive side, there is much to like. The design of the venue is superb, giving the sensation of being airy and spacious with light coming in on from three sides. Despite being busy, the acoustics also work well and one can easily make oneself heard. The wine list is also an absolute joy with a fascinating and eclectic range, priced reasonably and in 75ml measures upwards. We enjoyed a Fino, a Chilean Viognier and a Cote du Rhone Villages, all of which showed great typicity. On previous occasions, wines as diverse as Austrian Gruner Veltliner and reds from Rueda have also been enjoyed. The staff are also friendly and effusive, with an appropriate waiting time between courses. Two things were disappointing on this occasion: first, being sat at the table right by the door. It seems an ill-thought-through idea to have a table seating four (we were three) so close to the front of the restaurant, resulting in a constant and disruptive traffic of people. Second, while one cannot fault a two-course set lunch for £14.95, the main was truly appalling. Billed as “pork collar with hispy cabbage and Madeira jus”, it came to the table cold and reminded me of late-night kebab experiences from yesteryear, with the hispy cabbage much closer in form to soggy lettuce. Food and drink merit five out of ten based on the wine selection and the fact that previous mains from the a la carte have been executed much better. Conclusion: do go, but ask for a table away from the door, drink lots of wine and choose your food carefully.