Despite the emphasis on cocktails, 28 Degrees has a fine if pricey wine list, including food-friendly items like the 2009 Alois Lageder pinot bianco ($11.50/glass; $22/carafe; $46/bottle), a cleaner, drier wine than a pinot grigio.
With desserts, we find what the chefs don't know, or aren't encouraged to work on. Is it a good thing that the brownie sundae ($10) is the best dessert? It is if you like brownies, since this is a slab of about six with plenty of chocolate flavor, under not-fabulous vanilla ice cream. Apple bread pudding ($10) is the same giant square, but stodgier, without enough apple or custard flavor. Spiced chocolate fondue ($15) is an easy dessert to make, but not really a good idea in a fancy lounge where people wear evening clothes. The chocolate drips off the objects dipped in it (here pineapple chunks, strawberries, and marshmallows). It tastes good with a hit of pepper at the end, but it's risky stuff.
Service as we ate before theater was excellent — water was re-poured, coffee was French-press.
Although this column has argued that you can't eat the décor, 28 Degrees is a very handsome space, in muted colors and contemporary shapes, with a lot of scrims and curtains to break it up and create quasi-private areas. Noise is not a problem, although what the DJs do later in the evening I do not know. The bathrooms are from the era of competition for weirdest design, and don't quite go so far as the one-way mirrors on the stalls at Mantra, but do have a kind of water feature in the transparent ceilings that is almost as disorienting. At some point a contemporary museum of art and design is going to start collecting these bathroom designs of the previous decade but, somehow, the "spell of having weird restaurant bathrooms" doesn't quite click like "The Mauve Decade," "The Ragtime Era," or "The Roaring '20s."
Robert Nadeau can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.