The decision to open Donostia is a reflection of our passion for Basque gastronomy. We finally “pulled the trigger” at the start of the year having found our premises in London, W1. Since then the starry eyed daydreams of serving pintxo, txakoli, bacalao, steak… have been replaced by the real life challenges of opening a restaurant. It’s nothing short of Heston Blumenthal’s recipe – simple if you know how (and have practiced a lot) ! Take one small pot (restaurant site) add one landlord, one solicitor, one mechanical engineer, an interior designer (luckily we have our own), a builder and an architect. Cover and let stew for some time. Patience required. Season with local licensing authority (the lovely Westminster), planning authorities, health and safety and kitchen advisors. For great taste, throw in the best chefs and front of house staff and only use the very best suppliers. Finally, a big wallop of passion, hard work and a pinch of hope and you’ll have the restaurant you dreamt about.
Coming from a non-restaurant background, we were suddenly immersed in a world we didn’t fully understand. Sure our wine business helped as we gained advice from our experienced clients (“Oh no not the extractor!” – now we know) and our business experience made the numbers understandable but still hard to estimate. So it was a great when we were given an opportunity to take part in the Portman Village annual summer party. With the works on-going we could only represent Donostia in form of a stand outside the restaurant. You lose sight of the food, wine and service when wondering about the airflow and gas certificates so it was wonderful to see so many locals give our concept the thumbs up. This is why we started the restaurant! The Jamon, Txakoli and Rioja (our very own Fincas de Landaluce 2006) went down a treat. All the hard work had paid off in those 5 hours; we got to serve our new neighbours and receive numerous positive comments on the jamon, wine and our ideas. The one negative comment.. that we are not opening until January.
Melody & Nemanja, co-owners of Donostia restaurant