Should Anne Hidalgo – Paris’s new mayor – be looking for somewhere to lunch in London, Haute Living has a suggestion. Step forward: The Sign Of The Don.
Located on the site of the original Sandeman Port and Sherry Cellar in the picturesque St Swithins Lane, The Sign Of The Don is the little sister of city restaurant veteran The Don. But while its elder sibling focuses predominantly on formal French fare, The Sign Of The Don pays homage to Spain – which should suit Spanish-born socialist, Hidalgo, to a tee.
The Sign Of The Don is the latest venture from Robyn and Robert Wilson – the husband and wife team who in addition to their St Swithins Lane eateries are behind the beloved Bleeding Heart restaurant off Hatton Gardens, and also own Trinity Hill Wines in New Zealand. As such I arrived at The Sign Of The Don with great expectations…
First impressions were good: the gigantic subterranean basement bar/bistro certainly looks the part with its barrel stave interiors, port heritage cellars, banquettes crafted from casks and eye-catching sculptures of iron hoops made from ancient barrels.
The atmospheric interior positively prickled with an air of excitement as the attentive staff showed us to our table. The linen was crisp, the sparkling water ice cold and the cavernous restaurant smelt divine. As we sat down to be welcomed with a glass of champagne by Bence—The Sign Of The Don’s superb sommelier—we couldn’t help but feel a tad spoilt.
Once seated and sipping our champers, we browsed The Sign Of The Don’s small but perfectly formed a la carte menu. I opted to start with the Smoked beetroot, pickled shallots and goats curd salad while my dining companion kicked off our feast—and it was a feast—with a green pea soup. Both dishes elated being delicate, refined and uncluttered.
Would our mains be able to live up to the high standard that our starters had set? Happily the answer was yes. The Grilled breast of chicken with Lemon, thyme and garlic olive oil mash was satisfyingly filling and a carnivore’s delight, while my Asparagus and pecorino ravioli with Datterini tomatoes and rocket came with a bold whack of flavour. And desserts were similarly note perfect.
The home made Raspberry sundae had my partner purring with pleasure and I had no complaints about the Crème Catalan which provided a fitting finale and showcased what The Sign Of The Don’s kitchen can do.
Another special feature is the wine list—there’s plenty (given The Sign Of The Don’s Trinity Hill connection) to lure in the oenophiles. But if you’re not a wine connoisseur, worry not: the charming sommelier, Bence, is usually on tap to help you navigate the list and match a wine to each and every course of your meal.
And patrons who prefer beer, spirits or cocktails (the fun sounding The Don’s Martini caught our eye) won’t be disappointed either.
Service, under the guidance of manager Eric, was seamless and charming and prices—given that St Swithins Lane, within stumbling distance of Bank station, is a destination of choice for bankers—pleasingly below the stratosphere.
All told The Sign Of The Don is too good to leave to the suits. If Bojo needs somewhere to take his Paris counterpart in the coming months, he should head here. As an atmospheric alternative to the Square Mile’s stuffy restaurants, The Sign Of The Don is a star.
The Sign Of The Don is located at The Courtyard, 21 St Swithins Lane, City of London, EC4. To make a booking click here