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|Address:||Seymour Place, London W1H 5DB|
|Tel:||020 3620 1845|
|Price: £37.00||Wine: £17.00||Champagne: £74.00|
|Opening Hours:||Tues-Sat 11am-3pm 6-11pm Sun 10am-3pm|
2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
Low key restaurants, with stools around a small kitchen, maybe a few tables, a relaxed booking policy and a menu studded with lots of sharing plates are all the rage in Soho at the moment. Which is why it is odd to find Donostia, a Spanish tapas restaurant that wouldn’t look out of place on Greek Street, on the Middle Eastern restaurant enclave of the Edgware Road.
OK, technically it is the Marylebone side, but it seems miles away from home.
The restaurant is what might be called “contemporary”. There is much use of wood (floor and walls), white wash and beige. The kitchen is open and has lots of shining stainless steel and a hot plate. The obligatory bar is there; marble topped with high stools. Even the till has been done away with and replaced by an iPad.
The high stools are immovable, which makes sense, provided that everyone plays by the rules of keeping your elbows in to allow your neighbour to tuck in. Not really the restaurants fault, but having asked my neighbour once to be given enough room to actually eat my food, I shouldn’t have had to ask a third time. Oh well, perhaps we should have moved to a table, but where’s the fun in that? Perhaps the bar should have been a couple of feet longer. Or perhaps (like the people who pick dishes off the conveyor belt at kaiten sushi places, inspect it and then put it back) some people just have no manners; no thought for their fellow diner.
The atmosphere is loud: it is a small place and mix in some Spaniards, some Americans and pack of ladies on a night out and the decibel count soon skyrockets. Service is friendly, efficient and fast, with the dishes being whipped up in front of you.
The style is tapas, so the jamon is carved in front of you, the croquettas are dropped in the deep fat not a yard away from where you sit and, off to one side, the tortilla can be seen being flipped. Now the mark of anywhere that wants to be thought of as serving the best tapas in town isn’t the foie gras on toast (although one lady at the bar declared this to be the best thing she’d put in her mouth; ever), but the classic tortilla. A mixture of potato and onions in an egg binding. Browned on the outside, runny on the in. Donostia does a pretty fine example, with the liquid centre oozing out at the first cut, but the rest firmly cooked together.
Cod cheek and beef tongue are two dishes that you’ll find in the Basque region, but rarely over here, and it was the former of these that was the standout for me. Nice firm meat, enveloped in a glutinous unctuousness. If they don’t give you one, ask for a spoon to finish off the juices.
The wine list is short, with some well priced bottles and a few big hitters; the Tremendus Blanco that we had was a zesty, citrusy affair that cost but a score.
With Vinoteca opening a branch on the same street, Roti Chi, Briciole and the new 28-50 all opening close by in the last few months, maybe this part of Marylebone will become the new Soho. I would pay to see the look on the faces of the locals if Madame JoJo’s was the next to open up.