'Best chef' Frederick Forster gives his take on grouse at The Don
PUBLISHED: 15:43 19 September 2017 | UPDATED: 15:43 19 September 2017
Emma Bartholomew eats at The Don, a smart City restaurant with elegant surroundings and charming service that won't break the bank
Grouse, a symbol of privilege, is pretty hard to come by.
Just a handful of London restaurants will serve the bird when it’s in season – and the offering surely can’t get much better than at City institution, The Don.
Now’s apparently the best time to consume grouse - our waiter there tells us - before its taste becomes increasingly gamey as the hunting season stretches to December. I can vouch it’s already very gamey.
Eating the delicacy for the first time at City diner, prepared by new head chef Frederick Forster, the meat is unimaginably soft, and incredibly rich – amplified by a foie gras croute, but countered by tart blackberries and an old school bread sauce (£38).
Forster has won both National Chef of The Year and the Roux Scholarship in his time, and his classic and modern-French inspired dishes exude elegance.
A delicate rabbit lasagne (£13.50) is to be savoured, as a hint of dill lingers on the palate. Yet another extravagant ingredient on the a la carte menu – caviar - is served on a bed of ice in shells with crab, home made blinis and smoked salmon (£15).
Décor is simple and pristine, spiced up with a few Hoyland modern art paintings. The surroundings belie The Don’s rich history.
In 1789 George Sandeman took over the buildings in St Swithins Lane and mixed the wine he shipped over from Portugal in the medieval cellars.
The Don is named after the black-caped figure symbolising his Sandeman Port and Sherry house – depicted in the original sign outside, recently returned by a Portuguese museum.
The wine list here boasts nearly 500 wines, including several from owners New Zealand vineyard, Trinity Hill in Hawkes Bay – including the 2015 Marsanne Viognier, which the surfing Sicilian sommelier paired with my rabbit.
Staff are keen to share their knowledge, and incredibly attentive.
I was really touched when one of them turned down the air con “because he saw me put on my jumper”.
For such a fine dining experience The Don doesn’t break the bank.