Donostia 22

10 Seymour Place , London, W1H 7ND

10 reviews

37 Spanish Marylebone

  • Donostia
  • Donostia

SquareMeal Review of Donostia

Squaremeal London Hot 100 2016This “marvellous” Basque kitchen has always served the food and drink of San Sebastián and its environs against a backdrop of purest white, with touches of grained wood and marble – although it’s now reaping the benefit of a 2016 refurb. The food doesn’t need much flattery, even if the act of pouring natural Basque cider from great heights does add a certain ceremony to the experience. Excellent charcuterie dominates the selection of cold plates, while pintxos could be foie gras with walnuts and PX vinegar, jamón croquetas or tempura prawns with ham and mango. Bigger tapas dishes give meat and fish a starring role, as in Ibérico pork shoulder with romesco sauce, crispy-fried cod cheeks with squid-ink aïoli or marinated quail with spinach, pancetta and truffle oil. There are classic extras including blistered Padrón peppers and masterfully made tortilla too. Donostia’s owners started out in the wine import trade, and there’s quality in every glass.

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8.3

Food & Drink: 8.3

Service: 8.3

Atmosphere: 8.8

Value: 7.8

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 5.0

Atmosphere: 5.0

Value: 4.0

mrstock bronze reviewer 20 August 2015

I have been to this restaurant a lot. Over time one would expect a restaurant to lift off the accelerator yet this charming boutique Spanish restaurant continues to charm and come up with the goods. A typical example of what can and should happen in London with an owner led restaurant. The food is never less than deliciously satisfying and the enthusiasm of the owner and staff is palpable.

Food & Drink: 5.0

Service: 5.0

Atmosphere: 5.0

Value: 5.0

Monikasays platinum reviewer 16 September 2013

On the first autumnal evening (torrential rain, cold, grey, true London) this year, I escaped into this little gem in Marylebone (more Marble Arch end of Oxford St). Donostia is an attractive, contemporary, cute restaurant with fine fine Basque cooking. The owner is an ex-Barrafina chef, so this establishment is a serious contender for the best tapas in London. The atmosphere was buzzy, warm and had that bonhomie, that is often hard to find in London city. We were seated by the window (best table for the frisson) with ‘ham on our heads’ (ie a large legs of Bayonne ham, tantalising near enough to nuzzle). I managed to refrain. You can also sit at the bar, if your posture is good enough. The menu was clear, concise but bursting with yummy sounding bites. The tempura prawns with mango had the lightest batter and the most succulent seafood, at £2 per prawn, I had to order another. Cod cheeks with tarry black aioli were delightfully moreish. The star was the chargrilled porky iberico shoulder surrounded by dollops of delicious romesco sauce. The often boring tortilla was an eggy, carbohydrate revelation. Triple cooked chips with brava sauce were as good as the ones in Opera Tavern. The wine list was equally impressive with novel and classic Spanish wines, with very reasonable price tags. The end bill was a rather economical £75 for 2, for a meal of this quality and quantity (I wish this was my local). I must also mention the fantastic service and our waiter who braved the downpours to hail a cab from around the corner. Old school manners count for a lot these days. This place is a little taste of San Sebastian on our doorstep, not to be missed.

Food & Drink: 5.0

Service: 5.0

Atmosphere: 5.0

Value: 5.0

Tijana U. 03 March 2013

Visited here with my boyfriend for the second time in as many weeks. On the previous occasion we reserved a table but opted for the bar the second time-its where the action is. Sitting on the dining bar we could see the chefs preparing various dishes in the open plan kitchen and kept adding to our order. We are big fans of Spanish food and all agreed their croquettas were the best we ever had. We also had the mini wagyu burger and chorizo from the menu. The Tapas dishes were more elaborate, we had the pil-pil cod cheeks, a gelatinous heaven and my boyfriend had the baby fried squid (chipirones). We spoke to the barman who suggested the pork shoulder and the pig cheeks in red wine with parsnip puree. I have never had pork cooked like this, medium rare and incredibly jucy. The cheeks were slow cooked in red wine and very tender. Worked wonders with the parsnip puree. We left out the deserts as were too stuffed. Highly recommended.

Food & Drink: 3.0

Service: 2.0

Atmosphere: 3.0

Value: 3.0

Al E. 23 February 2013

Perhaps this restauraunt is trying to hard to bring Spanish culture to London. The great melting pot is always open to a new bill of fayre but the British punter expects to be treated with a certain amount of decorum. This tapas emporium falls woefully short of the mark on service and civility. It started with a phone call in the morning asking for a further confirmation and a prod at punctuality. After leaving our drinks venue, the admirable Vino Tecca just across the road we arrived for our reservation at the correct time. We were told quite curtly that our table was not available and that we would have to wait (perhaps a courtesy phone call would not have gone amiss at this point). Wait we did, for a full half hour in the doorway of the said trendy tapas joint. There is no bar area as such, as this is laid for extra covers. Upon asking for our table after the media hora had passed we were treated to an unmannerly grunt from one of the waiting staff. “Well ave you booked?” "Yes". I said. To which he went and checked again with the curt usherette from earlier. “You wait I lay table”. Not big on manners here I thought, “Doesn't cost anything” echoed my mothers advice. Ahhh seated at last in the main thoroughfare how very comfortable. We were then treated to be fair to some reasonable tapas, but hardly anything to write home about. In fact the anchovies didn't taste as fresh as Waitrose own and the Pork romesco looked like it had come out of a home freezer cabinet. Wine not to bad but a very poor liqueur menu. Have these people never been to Spain? One loves a decent drop of something with one's coffee des pues. Tapas is as much about atmos as it is about food. In most Spanish establishments that comes with a liberal dose of laid back culture. Here it's all about pretentiousness and platitudes. To top it off we were not offered any kind of reduction until my wife pointed out that this was the very least they could do. Tapas with attitude? Who needs it?

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 4.0

Atmosphere: 4.0

Value: 4.0

TheHungryBea T. 29 August 2012

As we say in Malay, ‘bak cendawan tumbuh selepas hujan’ which translates to ‘like mushrooms sprouting after the rain’. The tapas culture has hit London like a storm. I am constantly on the lookout for good tapas places, not only for food but for the wine, atmosphere and people too. Tucked in a little side street that connects at Seymour Place with Upper Berkeley Street in Marylebone, Donostia joined the London tapas arena early this year. Initially visiting on a friend’s recommendation, I have since been there many times and can say it has been one of my favourite places to go of late. If you like Barrafina and Jose’s in London you will love it too. Donostia, which is Basque for San Sebastian, offers the first authentic Cocina Vasca (Basque Cuisine) in London and needless to say, the food is delicious and beautifully crafted by head chef, Thomas Baranski. For all whom do not recognise this name, Thomas is the former head chef of Barrafina also worked at Fino and Brindisa. To top it all, Thomas’s not only trained, but excelled in Urepel, one of the most respected restaurants in San Sebastian, Spain. Donostians (people of San Sebastian) are gastronomes, they love their food, love cooking it, talking about it and eating it. This is how I felt being in Donostia, they have a passion for their food, they love to discuss their food, they want to know what you think about the food, they serve it well and cook it phenomenally. Donostia offers a daily menu of the more famous Basque dishes, to name a few; croquettes, tortilla bacalao, pil-pil and Jamon (from the Basque Kintoa pig), specials are introduced daily. Basque cooking it’s an art in itself, authentically Spanish, traditional and with a touch of modernism. Basque cooking is a cultural, historic and economic revolution in Spain. It was in 1975, when the traditional heavy and creamy food was refined, modernised, and experimented with by chefs who were influenced by the finesse of French cooking from the north, resulting in elegantly crafted Spanish cuisine. Basque cuisine may at times seem to have combinations that sound outright sinful, but that it is why it stands out, it’s unique; its art and with the right chef it is a masterpiece. However, it is yet to achieve its deserved acclaim and has yet to get the attention it deserves. What better way to start spreading the word than in the exuberant city of gastronomic varieties and culture of London. The wines are no less interesting and are handpicked by the co-owners Melody Adams and Nemanja Borjanovic (who also owns Mountain Valley Wines).They provide regional Spanish wines that compliment the food and stimulates the curiosity, especially if you have palette for regional Spanish wine, like I do. I love my Spanish wines, especially the regional ones. When I was in Spain, I was fortunate enough to try different regional wines. Most of these wines never make its way to import market; so you can imagine how exciting it was glancing through the wine list. What they have in Donostia are wines that you never knew existed. From fresh, round, fruity, and bold; they complement the different varieties of food, your palate and even your mood. When in Rome, do as the Romans do; as they say. In this case, when in Donostia, do as the Donostians do and have a txakoli. A green, slightly sparkling, dry white wine poured from great height into a tumbler. Now, this was the first for me. I loved the idea and enjoyed this ‘spritzy’ white wine. A definite must try. I have thoroughly enjoyed my visits to Donostia for the food, the wine and the staff. Sometimes I feel I am in one of those famous and often spoken about gastronomic clubs of San Sebastian ‘txokos’; where you cook, eat and talk about the food. Well, I am undoubtedly not cooking there (that’s a shame, what better what to enjoy the food you love than by cooking it yourself), but the experience being in Donostia is very much like a being a Donostian yourself.

Food & Drink: 5.0

Service: 5.0

Atmosphere: 5.0

Value: 4.0

Gillian G. 07 August 2012

Went here for the first time last week and my three friends and we left very impressed. We went for dinner which was busy – this place definitely has a buzz about it. We started off with a bottle of txakoli and some ‘pintxos’ which are small tapas. Croquettas are so creamy we had to order more. We also tried the foie gras drizzled with a sweet sauce – we also ended up reordering this – it was delicious. For the tapas I had read about the cod cheeks in The Independent so they were a must try, very tender and with a buttery flavour. The stand out dish for me however was cuttlefish with arroz negro – striking on both the plate and on the palate. We followed this with the pork shoulder which is cooked rare, not like any pork you will have tried before, very tender and perfectly seasoned. For dessert I had the lemon tart, creamy with a citrusy punch. The chefs scorch the top (as with a creme caramel) for a bit of crunch too. Yum. Also worth mentioning – we had a two hour sitting at the table but had arrived a little late so were running up to our finish time and wanted to stay to finish our wine. The door manager was understanding and rearranged some other reservations so we could stay longer which we were very pleased about. All in all a good night and can't wait to go back!

Food & Drink: 3.0

Service: 1.0

Atmosphere: 4.0

Value: 2.0

Tse H. 05 August 2012

I came to this new spanish restaurant to try it with 4 friends. It's dissappointing. The room looks good, and is nicely decorated but the food and the service is just not there. We ordered plenty of tapas (chorizo, patatas bravas, squid, jamon iberico …) and 5 main courses including two bottle of wine. We ended up with a bill of 40£/person and were still a bit hungry. Tapas quality for their price is really average, I would not call it good compared to what you can get in San-Sebastian. Worse thing is the service: it's extremely slow we waited 40minutes for all the tapas to come, and another 40 minutes for the main. They told us the restaurant was very crowded but actually the kitchen was understaffed. So we told the waitress nicely that service was slow and that they did not bring bread, who reacted poorly bringing us bread saying “we will not charge you for bread”! More staff is definitely needed at the kitchen. I would maybe go back but on a weekday for lunch, hoping that service will be faster. Another bad point: they do not accept Amex.

Food & Drink: 3.0

Service: 4.0

Atmosphere: 4.0

Value: 3.0

Caped C. silver reviewer 10 July 2012

Visited on a very unusually hot day (for our terrible London Summer so far) and the restaurant was pretty packed outside but less than half full inside. Thought this to be strange as I've heard the Chef has been poached from Barrafina (one of my faves). The food was a mixed bag. Nothing was awful but it ranged from excellent to so so. usual staples such as the Patas Bravas and Tortilla were exactly as expected and well executed (very authentic and done in the Basque way). the mains such as the pigeon were so so but the sirloin and cod were both excellent. The food was good but it lacked the rustic deliciousness of Barrafina and the execution here is a bit more pricey and upmarket. Would certainly try again and it's definitely recommended you give it a go.

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 5.0

Atmosphere: 5.0

Value: 4.0

Noman K. 02 July 2012

I have visited the basque region of Spain a few times so I was interested to know what this new restaurant had to offer. Would I get the pil pil cod I had hoped for? Or the selection of meats specific to the region?? the answer is yes. The pil pil cod is a must have. The tortilla is crispy on the outside, gooey in the middle, and the croquettas are mouth wateringly good!! The meat selection comes from the kintoa pig and is authentic. Not only does it feel like the food was just served up in a basque kitchen, it tastes like it too. The decor is just the right side of the quaintness found in the region. The wine list is good, with varying qualities and types. I got chatting with the owner and he started off as a wine importer. So it would have been easy to just put any wine on the list, but they really thought it through and hand picked wines from the region as well as others. I finished with a lemon tart and my partner had a chocolate and orange mousse, both of which were stunning. I've been back since and will keep going. The service is really good. I didn't book, but had my name taken at the door and waited a bit. Was quite busy, which is a good thing. The only way you'll know how authentic it is, is if you visit the region in Spain, and then try Donostia. Even if you havnt been, it's still a good meal and evening out.

Food & Drink: 3.0

Service: 4.0

Atmosphere: 3.0

Value: 3.0

Jamal R. bronze reviewer 01 July 2012

Generally an informal compact dining spot with a very contemporary feel. Basque style tapas were decent but not amazing as you find in San Sebastian Spain. Cod cheeks were overrated – 6/10. Pork Shoulder excellent and made perfectly 9/10 and pigeon executed well 8/10 as was the prawn with mango. Didin't try tortilla or tongue. The rest of our tapas selection were the normal everywhere tapas at most tapas restaurants including chirizo (much better elsewhere), coquettes (very good and full of fat), char grilled peppers, anchovies but slightly more expensive than other places. Bill came to £80 for two including 3 glasses of wine. White wine selection in glasses not great, red slightly better. My overall rating would be 7/10.

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