The Don Restaurant 333

The Courtyard, 20 St. Swithins Lane , London, EC4N 8AD

020 7626 2606

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  • The Don Restaurant
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  • The Don Feb 2016 9
  • The Don Restaurant
  • The Don Restaurant
  • The Don Feb 2016 5
  • The Don Restaurant
  • The Don Restaurant
  • The Don Feb 2016 7
  • The Don Restaurant
  • The Don Restaurant
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SquareMeal Review of The Don Restaurant

SquareMeal award hall of fame 1999-2018 logo badgeHead chef Frederick Forster (ex-Gavroche and Ritz) has breathed new life into this atmospherically located City stalwart, which for all its modern minimalism (the dining room is impressively hung with John Hoyland’s abstract artwork) opened way back in 2001. To start, rabbit lasagne has firm layers of al dente pasta sitting in a diverting velouté of roasted cep, or there is a beautifully presented arrangement of white and brown crab meat to spoon onto blinis with caviar. Grouse in season is beautifully flavoured, brilliantly cooked and thoughtfully de-boned by the kitchen, its liver made into a silky smooth parfait, a jug of fabulous bread sauce on the side. A blackberry soufflé the colour of a dark rose offers similar proof that Forster knows how to balance modern luxury with traditional comfort, while widely spaced tables and smooth, polite service reassure City diners that they’re in safe hands. The superior wine list is packed with port, sherry and Madeira, alongside bottles from the owners’ Kiwi vineyard Trinity Hill (they also own The Bleeding Heart in Farringdon). For a less formal experience, the downstairs bistro has steak tartare and coq au vin, while the bar serves 30 wines by the glass alongside Adnams beer and croque monsieurs; you can drop in for breakfast, too.  

Grana Padano

Grana Padano has become the world’s best-selling PDO cheese and one of the most loved products in Italy. It has been made with the same passion for almost 1,000 years in the heart of the Po River Valley in Northern Italy using only local milk, and aged from nine to over 20 months. What’s more, 30g of Grana Padano PDO contains the same nutritional value as approximately one pint of milk and it is lactose free due to its long ageing and production process. Real Grana Padano cheese can be recognised by the small diamond lozenges on its rind. So always check there is some rind on the piece you are buying.

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7.4

Food & Drink: 7.6

Service: 7.1

Atmosphere: 7.3

Value: 6.5

Food & Drink: 5.0

Service: 5.0

Atmosphere: 5.0

Value: 4.0

Sarah G. gold reviewer 27 July 2016

Nothing to complain about here, excellent food, excellent service - what more could you ask for. A little on the pricey side but where isn't these days in London. I had the monkfish tail wrapped in pancetta which wa absolutely superb, so often monkfish is overcooked and rubbery but this was perfect - washed down with a glass of Champagne - a little bit of heaven!

Food & Drink: 3.0

Service: 3.0

Atmosphere: 3.0

Value: 2.0

Stephen W. bronze reviewer 12 January 2015

I hadn’t been to the Don in some years, and vaguely remembered it as good quality, if expensive. We were four and booked into an early slot. I like the theatre of restaurants: so the discreet location, the corner wine cellar, the white tablecloths, the sommelier decanting the top Rioja, the carving up of the chateaubriand, the cheese trolley, all these confirmed my view of the way the world should be. The starter foie gras was presented as slices of sausage, tasty enough but hard and cold. I would have preferred it softer and room temperature (or even grilled). The artichoke veloute was pronounced “lovely” (though she did not finish it, on grounds of quantity). The accompanying bread of good quality, but if there was a wholemeal option in the basket, I missed it. The chateaubriand was the main success, adjudged huge, juicy and gorgeous; the venison was good but rather chewier than I had hoped. The nicely-sized crème brule and the chocolate-filled ginger sponge were both full successes. I left the restaurant feeling comfortably full, but also that once again the food had been fully priced.

Food & Drink: 3.0

Service: 3.0

Atmosphere: 3.0

Value: 2.0

Stephen W. bronze reviewer 12 January 2015

I hadn’t been to the Don in some years, and vaguely remembered it as good quality, if expensive. We were four and booked into an early slot. I like the theatre of restaurants: so the discreet location, the corner wine cellar, the white tablecloths, the sommelier decanting the top Rioja, the carving up of the chateaubriand, the cheese trolley, all these confirmed my view of the way the world should be. The starter foie gras was presented as slices of sausage, tasty enough but hard and cold. I would have preferred it softer and room temperature (or even grilled). The artichoke veloute was pronounced “lovely” (though she did not finish it, on grounds of quantity). The accompanying bread of good quality, but if there was a wholemeal option in the basket, I missed it. The chateaubriand was the main success, adjudged huge, juicy and gorgeous; the venison was good but rather chewier than I had hoped. The nicely-sized crème brule and the chocolate-filled ginger sponge were both full successes. I left the restaurant feeling comfortably full, but also that once again the food had been fully priced.

Food & Drink: 5.0

Service: 5.0

Atmosphere: 5.0

Value: 5.0

cgp 22 November 2014

The staff made us very welcome, and the food & wine was just excellent! I had been to The Don for a long time, and I was really pleased that was still as good as i remembered it. I will be back again soon.

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 4.0

Atmosphere: 4.0

Value: 4.0

John W. bronze reviewer 23 January 2014

It was a truncated lunch as a result of a commication problem but excellent. I had dover sole which was delicious and larger than expected and my guest had the catch of the day, pollock, also delicious. Took a chance on an old bottle of Portugese wine which turned out to be remarkable value at £45. excellent light lunch.

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 4.0

Atmosphere: 4.0

Value: 4.0

Robin W. 22 January 2014

Excellent food as usual, thank you.

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 3.0

Atmosphere: 3.0

Value: 4.0

Jan d. silver reviewer 30 October 2013

This was an absolutely delicious meal. Despite it feeling rather like a gentlemens' club upon entering – 20 odd men and no women until our party arrived! – the food was beautifully presented and cooked to perfection. I could find nothing to fault at all, bar perhaps the service which was rather slack to start (we were ignored totally until I asked to see the wine menu) but improved some once we got started. A very good wine list (the Gimblett Gravels 2010 blend being exceptionally good value) brought a great support to a perfectly pink roast rump of salt marsh lamb and moist and succulent roast pork belly and made it through to accompany the exceptionally well-laden cheese trolley – one of the best in London. Perhaps not the most buzzy of places but if it's good food and wine you want then look no further.

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 3.0

Atmosphere: 3.0

Value: 4.0

London Gourmet platinum reviewer 03 July 2013

A very good lunch or dinner option in the heart of the city tucked away behind bank. The food is very good value for money for this part of town and while the wine is slightly less so it does offer some good bargains within their offering (in particular their “own” NZ wine offering). Very nice setting, service – while generally good – can be slightly overwhelmed, in particular when fully booked.

Food & Drink: 0.0

Service: 2.0

Atmosphere: 4.0

Value: 0.0

Scott G. 29 October 2012

I had not been to the Don for a couple of years (used to be a regular) had recently returned to the City to work. I took a client on Friday and was, frankly, embarrassed. I had a mackerel starter which came in a in a bizarre watery liquid with wet lifeless vegetables an acerbic olive tapenade on top. Could not eat. Then I had a salmon main course – no form of vegetable or greens – assumed there would be some as there appear to be no options for extras. The salmon was over-cooked, tasteless and came on some sort of tapioca like substance with a white sauce which filled up a bowl to the brim …. It looked like an apple crumble. Again I could not eat! My client had a couple of dishes which I cannot recall but he but had a similar overall impression. I was so embarrassed. I have never had occasion to tell a waiter at a business lunch that the food was awful in front of a client but I did. The reply was “I will tell the chef”. – Naturally we skipped dessert! Shocking

Food & Drink: 3.0

Service: 3.0

Atmosphere: 3.0

Value: 2.0

Mark D. bronze reviewer 12 July 2011

Vistied The Don last month for a business lunch. The service was good but slightly over bearing. The menu was very interesting but the end result had mixed results. All of the food was presented well but some times did not live up to the promise of the menu. For examble:-Tian of Hand Picked Crab and Avocado on a Chilled Crab Bisque Sauce -sounds great but tasted of tinned crab with a marie rose sauce! Roast Loin and Braised Belly of Black Bigorre Pig with Choucroute-Very nice but not memorable, a waste of great ingredients. Yorkshire Rhubarb Crumble with Vanilla Ice Cream- A huge helping of crumble, sadly no better than my 14yr old can put together. There are better places to visit in the area at this price.

  • Private Dining
  • The Don
  • The Don
  • The Don Private Dining
  • The Don private dining
  • The Don private dining
  • The Don private dining

The Don and sister restaurant, Sign of the Don part of the renowned Bleeding Heart Group, have a variety of Private Dining and Exclusive Hire options in some of the City’s finest restored historic dining rooms. You can enjoy fine food, superb wine and an attentive level of warm professional service. Private rooms can be hired throughout the day for both seated and standing dining events, or for a unique meeting space.

The stunning brick-lined and vaulted Sandeman Rooms were originally a bottling cellar for port and sherry shippers. Separately seating 24 in one and 28 in the other, both can be opened up into one longer space for larger groups. Along with the Tasting Room these are the popular spaces for private dining. Hire of the Tasting Room - seating up to 18, is truly unique to London and can include a visit to the restored cellar below which once led all the way to the Thames.

For larger groups hire of the restaurant spaces can be arranged, up to 50 in the White room and 45 in the Old Restaurant. The Wine Study that looks into the restaurant through a glass wall of wine is perfect for a semi private dining spot up to 16.

The entire venue can also be exclusively hired at the weekends, using various spaces to accommodate up to 250 for a standing reception.

The Wine Study (Semi Private)
Capacity: 18
The White Room and Wine Study
Capacity: 62
The Old Restaurant
Capacity: 45
Sandeman Room
Capacity: 24
The Bistro
Capacity: 40