28°-50° Fetter Lane review: Leave it to the sommeliers

Leave your wine knowledge at the door and you will be rewarded with some very welcome surprises


Just off Fleet Street, down a flight of stairs and behind a heavy green curtain lies a spacious basement bar and kitchen where wine is very much the star.

28°-50° Fetter Lane is what you might expect from a wine bar - bottles everywhere, exposed brick, a lot of wood and booths in cosy corners; slightly conventional, perhaps, but it works. Such is the laidback ambience that you could easily spend all evening there, happily mining the sommelier for wine suggestions until they – politely – ask you to leave at closing time.

The bar describes its fare as "modern European", which could encompass a great deal, but luckily head chef Julien Baris keeps matters simple, with some alluring options alongside bar snacks and charcuterie boards. However, its customers are mostly there for the wine and with 28°-50° Fetter Lane's selection, it's hard to blame them.

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The extensive but not overwhelming wine list takes guests on a journey around the world, from widely known wine-producing regions to sweet wines from Hungary and rums from Martinique and Guatemala. The house Henriot champagne is golden, crisp and delicious and at £48, worth every penny. There is also the added allure of their Coravin selection - wine that can be poured without pulling the cork, so you can try some exclusive vintages without buying the whole bottle.

The friendly and attentive staff know what they are talking about and will give educated recommendations, so forget what you think you know - and think you like - about wine and leave yourself in their capable hands. Indeed, the sommelier's knowledge shone from the first sip, with the frankly excellent pairing of a crisp Riesling with goose and mustard terrine, complementing the rich dish and cutting through the flavours perfectly.

Our straightforward-sounding crab salad had a red chilli-kick while the sea bream with bok choy and Asian broth was deliciously light with expertly balanced flavours. Throughout the menu, the flavours selected from outside the European staples are used respectfully and thoughtfully.

If Asian touches aren't your thing, then opt for the Aberdeen Angus steaks - especially with triple cooked chips on the side. My duck confit with red cabbage, quince and duck sauce came with wedges of apple, which worked well, but I couldn't help wishing it had a pile of creamy mash instead.

Desserts mix traditional favourites with interesting additions. The chocolate fondant with guava sorbet was as good as I'd hoped. Amplified by a delightful port, which I never would have chosen myself, it became the highlight of the night.

28°-50° Fetter Lane, 140 Fetter Lane, London EC4A 1BT; 2850.co.uk/fetter

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