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“Hidden delight”

The Don Bistro and Bar
Ranked #3,501 of 23,015 Restaurants in London
Price range: US$32 - US$58
Cuisines: Spanish, British
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Dining options: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Reservations
Neighbourhood: City of London
Description: We have traced our building back to 1342 when the Worshipful Company of Drapers bought it to use as their first meeting hall. In 1798, they leased it to George Sandeman, newly arrived from Perthshire to set up a wine company importing barrels of port from Portugal and sherry from Jerez in Spain. The site in St Swithins Lane was perfectly positioned, close (much closer than it is now) to the banks of the Thames where the barrels of wine were unloaded and rolled up a Roman tunnel that led to the medieval vaults beneath the Sign of The Don and The Don to be bottled and dispatched across the globe. You can see the destination stencils on the bistro walls. In 2000, after the Sandeman company had returned to their home base in Oporto, Robert and Robyn Wilson, owners of London's Bleeding Heart Restaurant Group and old friends of George Sandeman converted the building at No 20 St Swithins Lane into The Don Restaurant which justly won the award BMW/Square Meal Award for Best Restaurant in the City. In 2013 the Wilsons took on a much larger task, and, working closely with English Heritage and the City Conservation restored the adjoining building at No 21 St Swithins and its medieval cellar into The Sign of The Don Bar, Bistro and Private Dining Rooms. The Sign itself, a colourful glass image of the Don in his famous cape, was returned from Portugal and now hangs, unmissably, outside Number 21.
Ashtead, United Kingdom
Level 6 Contributor
361 reviews
181 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 130 helpful votes
“Hidden delight”
Reviewed 3 August 2014

The new bistro which opened in Nov 13 is in the adjoining building to the main Don restaurant joins up below ground and there’s history here, as off one of the passage ways is the original cellar which led down to the Thames from where the wine would be rolled up in barrels. Now available for private dining, complete with a musty damp smells, this is unique experience. However, this bistro itself is terrific. The menu has been simplified so its just on one page and there is always a daily special. Whilst the choices are more limited, this is more than compensated by the quality of the food, whilst the New Zealand wines are just fabulous. Best to book earlier rather than a later as the daily specials are very popular and go quickly. We loved it.

  • Visited July 2014
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank Simon C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
BleedingHeartLondon, Manager at The Don Bistro and Bar, responded to this review, 5 August 2014
Dear Simon,
Thank you so much for your wonderful review.
It is always a pleasure to know our customers appreciate the historic settings of The Sign of The Don. We did integrate parts of this rich history into our decoration, we used the destination stencils on the Bistro walls. Your comment about our private dining warmed our Hearts as we do pride ourselves on making a private event a very special occasion. Your comments about our food, wine and settings show us we are on the right track.
We do look forward to welcoming you back at The Sign of The Don and renew your dining experience,
With best wishes,
The Team
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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170 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    62
    72
    22
    9
    5
Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Ashtead, United Kingdom
Level 6 Contributor
361 reviews
181 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 130 helpful votes
“Underground delight”
Reviewed 3 August 2014

This review is for the the new bistro which opened in Nov 13 and is in the adjoining building to the main Don restaurant, which joins up below ground. There's plenty of history here, as off one of the passage ways is the original cellar which led down to the Thames from where the wine would be rolled up in barrels. Now available for private dining, complete with a musty damp smells, this is unique experience. However, this bistro itself is terrific. The menu has been simplified so its just on one page and there is always a daily special. Whilst the choices are more limited, this is more than compensated by the quality of the food, whilst the New Zealand wines are just fabulous. Best to book earlier rather than a later as the daily specials are very popular and go quickly. We loved it.

  • Visited July 2014
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank Simon C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
London, United Kingdom
Level 3 Contributor
15 reviews
13 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
“Bistro has a great atmosphere for a girlie catch-up.”
Reviewed 1 August 2014 via mobile

I recommend the salmon blinis and the Dingleu Dell Pork. Only disappointment was they had doubled the champagne bill and I had to correct them that we had only ordered 1 bottle not 2.

  • Visited July 2014
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank SheenaCraig
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
BleedingHeartLondon, Manager at The Don Bistro and Bar, responded to this review, 4 August 2014
Thank you for reviewing The Sign of The Don.
We certainly understand your favorites, salmon blinis and the Dingley Dell Pork, as they are very demanded.
We apologise for our mistake in charging you an extra bottle of Champagne. However innocent it was from us, it shouldn't have happened. Thank you for giving us a high mark despite the double charge.
Looking forward to welcoming you at The Sign of The Don in the near future,
With best wishes,
The Team
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Sutton, United Kingdom
1 review
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“Very good meal / very good value / very good service”
Reviewed 1 August 2014

This is a mid price restaurant offering really good food, really good service in a pleasant relaxed atmosphere. Pricing is very reasonable too - in fact this is the stand out point that the quality of the food belies the prices.
It is downstairs / below ground so no views to wow you - but as a relaxed pleasant venue it very much fits the bill.
Very glad we went there.

  • Visited July 2014
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Review collected in partnership with this restaurant

Helpful?
1 Thank Keith S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
BleedingHeartLondon, Manager at The Don Bistro and Bar, responded to this review, 4 August 2014
Thank you so much for reviewing The Sign of The Don.
We certainly appreciate your comments about our food, service and value.
We will make sure our Chef, Sommelier and Manager will be aware of your feedback.
Looking forward to your next visit,
With best wishes,
The Team
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
London, United Kingdom
Level 5 Contributor
61 reviews
34 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
“Disappointing in everyway”
Reviewed 29 July 2014

Tucked away on a side street in the heart of The city of London this was designed to be the funkier bar/Bistro to the city institution that is The Don. There are some nice design touches such as the table s being made from old Port Barrels and the quotes from Lily Bollinger in the ladies bathrooms really appealed to me however over all this place is a big miss.
It is shockingly overpriced even for a city bar (£14 for 175ml a glass of wine). On top of that I was overcharged for what was frankly a substandard NZ Tempranillo. When I pointed out the error there was no apology and it took quite a while to sort out the confusion. When i did get the difference back I discovered they were adding a service charge. Not only do I find this cheeky for a drinks order but it is totally unnecessary when I have gone to the bar to order it, negating any actual service.The Manager was at best rude and the final straw was when he whipped the wine list out from under my glass declaring "you wont be needing this any more".
It is a shame as the Bistro space looked nice but on this basis I am not surprised it was completely empty. If this place wants to survive it needs to get rid of the manager and give the staff some customer service training. On this visit I can not possibly recommend this Bar. there are much nicer places to go nearby

  • Visited July 2014
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank CassieLou_KZN
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
BleedingHeartLondon, General Manager at The Don Bistro and Bar, responded to this review, 30 July 2014
I am very sad to read your feedback and very much would like to investigate what went wrong. Please feel free to contact me on my email address giuseppedewilde@bleedingheart.co.uk as I take feedback seriously, so does the team. On your comment regarding the wine price, we do offer 30 wines by the glass, prices starting at £5 in 3 different measures, beside the bottle. I look forward to hearing from you, to clarify the matter and reassure you that our product and service are great and reflective of all the reviews we have had so far. It is clear that on this occasion we seemed to have failed to live up the expectation and deliver, and the team would like to give you reassurance of its action, and more importantly to welcoming you back.
Kind regards,
Giuseppe Dewilde
Head of Operations
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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