Jul 17 2012



Donostia is a Basque tapas restaurant located less than 5 min walk north from Marble Arch. I was very excited to go there, as I have never had Basque tapas before, never been to the Basque country, even though I have always wanted to go. I thought the décor of the place was quite plain, the bar stools looked better than the sit down tables, and it did feel a bit sterile in there. My boyfriend was running 15min late (said he could not find the place!!) so whilst I was waiting I ordered “Blistered padron peppers with sea salt”, a dish I have in all the tapas restaurants I go to, and in Donostia the padron peppers were not as salty as usual, not sure if that is a good or a bad thing (less tasty but better for my health). I also ordered a bottle of cider, and in Donostia you can get ciders from the Basque country, one of them is apparently imported from a family that makes it for 8 generations. The menu was divided in a few selections, you can have very small dishes like olives, pan con tomate, then starter size dishes (Basque tapas called pinxtos) and then fish, vegetable and meat dishes. So far nothing different to a typical Spanish tapas restaurant. When my boyfriend arrived fashionably late we ordered some “Pan con tomate”, nice, not as good as I have had in some other tapas places though, as I did not think it had enough tomatoes, “Heritage tomato and fennel salad” which once again did not come with many tomatoes (see in the picture below you can hardly see them), but which was very delicious, I loved this salad. “Crispy creamy croquetas with jamon” were ok, good croquetas, nothing more to add. We also had the special written on the board “Pulpo”, which was octopus served on a skewer on a few pieces of bread, was nice. And as the last starter we had the “Tempura prawns with bayonne ham, mango”, where tempura was nicely cooked and the mango complimented the dish nicely (and I very rarely like it when fruit is added to starter/ main course savoury dishes). We also shared two bigger size dishes, the “Cod cheeks in the legendary Basque sauce” which our waitress recommended, and the “Pigeon with fresh peas, pancetta” (pigeon is one of the meat dishes my boyfriend always insists on having when he sees it on the menu, note I think it is quite subconscious for him though, which is cute). The cod cheeks (I had to Google what it was, as I had no idea, and apparently they are the cheeks of a cod, which seems a bit strange to me…) were ok, they were tender, but I was not over the top about that legendary Basque sauce, it was interesting, but don’t think I will be ordering this again. The pigeon was however the biggest disappointment for us, it came super pink, and the most pink bit that I being stupid ate, tasted very strange, I did think I could have got some disease when I was eating this. My boyfriend almost wanted to send this back and started quizzing the waitress about the pigeon, and she said it is supposed to be pink, as otherwise it loses flavour, but still the flavour that our pigeon had was definitely not the right one. Also my boyfriend complained about the price of the meal (even though I paid for the meal), he thought the dishes (£4 on average for the small plates, and £10 on average for the main courses) were too expensive for the small portions. Note I thought it was ok value for money, very similar to other Spanish tapas places. But I think my biggest disappointment was that I did not get a true Basque feeling from this place. Fair enough I have never been to the Basque country so I can’t really compare Donostia to anything and I am sure that their food is very similar to Spanish food, but there was nothing on the menu that made me think, wow, I can’t get this in another tapas restaurant in London. I even googled Basque cuisine and Wikipedia gives a very wide description of it, and apparently typical dishes are marmitako (fish stew), Elvers (young eel), txiporones (baby squid) in their ink, talo  (type of brad) and many many other dishes, and none of them were on the menu. Also when I googled Donostia I found out that the owners are apparently English and Polish, which kind of makes the place lose a bit of credibility.


Location: Marble Arch

Price for 2 including service charge and a £12 bottle of cider:  £65

Date: 17/07/2012


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Maija rated: 



10 Seymour Place W1H 7ND
United Kingdom
Donostia Reviewed by Hungry Bee Maija on . Rating: 2.5