City Institution The Don Re-Opens Its Doors
The Don in St. Swithin’s Lane is re-opening after being closed for four years. Under its new ownership, it has been completely refurbished and is being led by a new management team aiming to restore it to its former glory.
‘The Don’ is the famous caped symbol of Sandeman Port. The restaurant is next door to its sister establishment, a Portuguese wine bar called Bar 1790. Both are in Sandeman House, the building to which the Sandeman family moved their wine importing and bottling business in 1805. The opening is another step in the return of Sandeman to St. Swithins Lane, something recognised on the wine list.
“The Rothschilds and the Sandemans were neighbours in St. Swithin’s Lane from 1809 until the 1967, when the Sandeman moved to larger premises. To mark this long association, we have a highlighted selection from the Rothschild wine estates around the world, including, of course, Chateau Lafite in Bordeaux,” says General Manger Peter Horton.
The Don’s head chef, Toby Lever, formerly of Lutyens, has developed a modern European menu that is based on seasonal ingredients “that haven’t been mucked about with,” explains Horton.
“The simplicity and quality of the food is important, given the complexity of the wine,” says Horton. The wine list, which focuses on Italy, France and Iberia, has over 600 wines that have been selected by Head Sommelier Max Cohn and David Gleave MW (chairman and founder of Liberty Wines). The Port list includes wines from all the major Port houses, as it is Horton’s aim to mark the return of Sandeman to the City by making The Don a meeting point for the UK Port shippers.
The Don has used Champagne expert Simon Stockton to compile a list that includes what he calls ‘the usual suspects’ with a wider range of well and lesser-known Champagnes. Paying homage to George Sandeman’s Scottish birth, The Don has done with whisky what it has done with Champagne, offering a whisky list that reflects the current excitement of this sector, with grand old names like Macallan rubbing shoulders with newcomers like Ardnamurchan.
In 1790, a 25 year-old George Sandeman set up as a wine merchant on Birchin Lane, importing Ports and Sherries from Portugal and Spain. Sandeman moved the business to St Swithins Lane in 1805 as the cellars were ideal for ageing and storing the wines, and were easily accessed by an underground passage from the Thames. The barrels were rolled off the ships – which were moored on the Thames near where Cannon Street Station stands today – and up the passage to the cellars.
These cellars now offer some of the City’s finest sites for private dining. There is a wonderful heritage dining room for up to 16 people called the Sandeman Room, as well as the old Barrel Cellar, which offers one of the largest private dining spaces in the City.
The Don will be open for lunch and dinner, Tuesday to Fridays from 12pm – 2.30pm and 5.30pm to 9.30pm.
19-23 St Swithins Lane, London, EC4N 8AD
020 7621 1148
Disclaimer – new and correct website is https://sandemanquarter.com/the-don/