Having been tipped off to the recent re-opening of the unfortunately demised City institution, The Sign of the Don Bar, it was almost a duty to sample the wares. Since our visit it seems to have been making a proper stab at getting folks through the door at breakfast time by hauling in professional opinionators to give a “City breakfast” talk – the latest being Anthony Hilton to discuss the merits or otherwise of “Brexit” from the European Union.
Certainly they need some sort of gimmick to get people in, because if our experience was anything to go by then quality of the actual breakfast provision is not going to do it. Let me say first though, that in first impressions terms it does itself quite well – down a half-hidden side street, with a simple and stylish neon sign to announce its presence, pleasant wood panel interior decor – it carries off its grandiose title pretty adequately.
Unfortunately that’s as far as the good impressions went. After placing our drinks orders, a lengthy wait culminated in the arrival of a completely different set of coffees than those we had ordered. Perhaps excusable in a busy moment, with orders flying left right and centre – but since we were the only patrons in the establishment at that time the reasons for such an error are rather less clear.
The breakfasts themselves arrived, and presentationally they certainly looked the business. Unfortunately the eating experience did not match the viewing experience. The sausages were bland and uninspired, and the toast was not really edible by anyone with jaws less formidable than a Great White. Perhaps as an effort to counterbalance, the muffins of the eggs benedict appeared to have been unacquainted with any heating implement.
Returning to the full English, while tomatoes balanced on top of mushrooms might look good (and I have to say, I’m not even especially convinced of that), they are certainly not flavours that you want to combine. The bacon was more charred than crisped. The saving grace was that the eggs at least were as good as they looked.
Unfortunately, as good as eggs are, they do not a full breakfast make. This point was perhaps not lost on the staff, as when our bill did arrive it included an unexplained 25% discount, which may or may not have been a effort to apologise for the beverage balls-up. Or (less likely) the general disappointment of the dishes. It’s a pity because on the face of it, this place should have everything going for it – but if Don Corleone were to take his breakfast here, I suspect someone would be waking up the next day to a pig’s head on the pillow. Let’s hope it gets up to scratch before it comes to that, because I can’t imagine the folks paying £35 a head to hear the venerable Mr Hilton recite from his Evening Standard columns over their morning sustenance would have much truck with this fare.