Sommelier Xavier Rousset is co-proprietor of London restaurant Texture together with chef Agnar Sverrisson. The duo have just launched their second venture, 28-50 Wine Workshop and Kitchen, in the City. Rousset spoke to Kerstin Kühn.
Caterer Tell us about the new restaurant.
Xavier Rousset The name 28-50 refers to the latitudes in which most of the wine regions across the world are located. The restaurant is very much about wine, and although we have quite a small list - 15 whites and 15 reds, all of which are served by the glass and carafe - we'll be running monthly wine workshops on certain winemakers as well as monthly wine auctions of special or unusual bottles. We also have a collectors' list from private owners. Two of our customers at Texture came to me saying that they had too much wine and that they'd like me to sell it in the restaurant.
Caterer Does the private collectors' list make things more exciting for you as a sommelier?
XR Yes, it's very exciting as it's given us the chance to get hold of cases that aren't widely available. We're selling the bottles at a small mark-up, so it's really good value, and we're not holding the stock, so we're only paying for the bottles once they are sold. And once we run out we have to find something else. I was a little scared that we would run out of wines, but three more private collectors have approached us saying they'd like us to sell their wines.
Caterer What about the food?
XR The menu is a classic brasserie menu with starters from £5 and mains from £12.50. The kitchen is being overseen by Aggi and head chef Paul Walsh, who used to be the sous chef at Gordon Ramsay's three-Michelin-starred restaurant on Royal Hospital Road in Chelsea. Dishes include gazpacho with prawn salad, olives and cucumber; pan-fried red mullet with bouillabaisse; and lamb shoulder with potato purée and new-season garlic.
Caterer You won a Michelin star this January. Has this changed business in any way?
XR It's helped in the way that it's made the business more steady. We're more consistently busy now, which is good.
Caterer You're set to hold a talk at Imbibe 2010, the on-trade drinks exhibition, next month. What's the show all about?
XR Imbibe 2010 is a new exhibition for people involved in selling or buying drinks in the licensed trade. There'll be lots of exhibitors and seminars giving operators practical ideas to help improve service and increase sales, margins and profit. It's focused on improving the entire drinks list, from wines, spirits, cocktails and beers to soft drinks, mixers and waters.
Caterer What will you be talking about?
XR I'm holding a seminar looking at Champagne and giving people advice on how to promote and sell it better. I'll also be looking at trends and how people react to different brands of Champagne. The seminar will take place on 13 July at 4.30pm in the Sommelier Lounge.
Imbibe 2010 takes place at London's Earls Court 2 on 13 and 14 July. Seewww.imbibe.com/2010for full details.