London & South East

Sign of the times

The Sign of the Don, St Swithins Lane, London

Situated adjacent to The Don Restaurant in St Swithins Lane, London – on the site of the original Sandeman Port and Sherry Cellars – The Sign of the Don is the latest venture from Robyn and Robert Wilson.

The Sign of the Don opened its doors on November 3rd 2013, comprises a bistro and bar, and has already proved very popular with guests. 

Similar to Bleeding Heart, which the Wilsons opened more than 30 years ago in Holborn’s historic Bleeding Heart Yard, The Don’s clientele has a strong corporate bias. With the launch of the more informal Sign of the Don next door, they aim to attract a new generation of diners and drinkers.

Speaking to Premier Hospitality about this new venture, Founder Robert Wilson, commented:

There was a small old-fashioned wine bar and restaurant next door to The Don. The owner of 40 years was about to retire, however, at the time we didn’t need the extra space, so instead we thought it would be an opportunity to create something similar to Bleeding Heart.

The Sign of the Don, St Swithins Lane, London

 “The Sign of The Don has a very relaxed space on the ground floor, where guests can have a glass of wine, a craft beer or a cocktail, or a nibble or something more substantial. Guests can then venture downstairs and enjoy a full bistro menu in a very comfortable and very attractive space, with terrific service. We also have some of the best private dining rooms in the city!”

In a rather interesting move, both The Don and The Sign of The Don are linked, via a basement level which allows The Sign of The Don’s private dining rooms to double in size through the opening of an identical space in The Don.

 The opening of The Sign of the Don has reunited chef James Walker and Head of Operations Giuseppe de Wilde, who worked together for seven years at Le Pont de La Tour. Walker, who trained at The Ritz and spent a year in Paris at Alain Senderains, has created a menu of modern British dishes with an occasional nod to the sites’ Spanish and Portuguese heritage.

 Bar food includes a Ham croquetta, whilst the bistro’s menu includes a 12-hour Confit suckling pig with grape mustard and black pudding and a whole roasted chicken stuffed with Bellota Sobrasada on purple potato bread. Meanwhile, for those with a sweet tooth, the dessert menu boasts an Olorosso sherry trifle, a traditional Portuguese custard tart and a Rum Baba with a choice of vintage Rums!

The Sign of the Don, St Swithins Lane, London

The décor of the restaurant emphasises The Sign of the Don’s Iberian heritage, with a bar carved from a solid slab of cork, from the Portuguese cork producers Amorim. Guests in the basement bistro are seated on banquettes, whilst a Portuguese cork floor complements the historic brickwork in the ancient vaults.

In keeping with The Don and the Bleeding Heart restaurants, wine is a focus at The Sign of the Don. Robert has hand-picked 30 wines, many from his private cellar, which are available by the glass via a state of the art wine preservation system. The changing selection will regularly feature a number of Spanish and Portuguese wines, as well as options from the Wilson’s award-winning vineyard, Trinity Hill, in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand.

The cocktail menu includes classic drinks made from craft gin and vodka as well as signature sherry and port cocktails. Craft beer is supplied by Adnams of Suffolk and in a nod to Robert Wilson’s Scottish forebears there is an extensive range of single malt whiskies supplied by The Scotch Malt Whisky Society.

Commenting on the initial reaction to the new restaurant, Robyn Wilson said:

We have wonderful feedback from food and wine critics, but more importantly from customers who say they love the ambience, the food and especially the very cheerful service.”

The Sign of the Don, St Swithins Lane, London

 Conveniently positioned next to Bank tube station and just 15 minutes from the West End by tube or taxi, The Sign of the Don makes for the perfect meeting spot within the Square Mile.

 For more information about The Sign of the Don, please visit:

 Court Catering Equipment

Court Catering Equipment specialise in the design, supply and installation of commercial catering equipment, for bars, restaurants and hotels, through to sports stadia, education, business and industry sectors. The company has been in operation since 1976 and within this time has worked on many prestigious projects, including The Sand Hotels in Margate, Hilton Hotel Wembley, The Cinnamon Kitchen in London, Topolski on the South Bank, the award winning Parcels Yard for Fullers Brewery and numerous projects for Chelsea Football Club.

The Sign of the Don, St Swithins Lane, London

Working on The Sign of The Don Court Catering Equipment was responsible for the design of the kitchen and bars. Court Catering Equipment has a long standing working relationship with Robert and Robyn Wilson, having worked with them on all of their previous sites.

Court Catering Equipment Managing Director, Nick Howe, said:

We have worked with the Wilsons on all of their restaurants for the past 12 years, including The Don. We pride ourselves in getting repeat business by providing the same high level of service for all our clients.”

Summit Design Ltd 

 Summit Design Ltd specialise in the design, supply and installation of mechanical services, including kitchen extract, fresh air ventilation & extract systems, air conditioning and heating. The company was founded in 1993 and within this time has worked on many prestigious projects, including Oblix at the Shard, Coya in Picadilly, Dover Street Arts Club, Dirty Burger and a number of restaurants for Gordon Ramsay.

Working on The Sign of the Don, Summit Design Ltd designed, supplied and installed the kitchen extract, the toilet extract, the fresh air supply to the kitchen and restaurant as well as the air conditioning system.

The Sign of the Don, St Swithins Lane, London

Summit Design Ltd General Manager, Des Franklin, said:

Around 80% of our business is within the fine dining restaurant sector. We are one of the few businesses in London that specialises in the design and installation of kitchen extract, ventilation and air conditioning systems for very exclusive restaurants.

At Summit Design Ltd we always plan to exceed our clients’ requirements. We design an energy efficient system which is intended to continue working even when the filters are slightly challenged. Whatever our client asks for we pride ourselves on delivering them that little bit extra.”

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