It’s great to be back in London, one of my spiritual homes (lucky me to have more than one). And even greater when you’re reminded of the amazing cosmopolitan lives we live here. Among the many new restaurants that have opened in the time I’ve been away is Zoilo.
It’s in trendy Marylebone just behind Selfridges and showcases Argentinian food cooked by renowned Argentinian chef Diego Jacquet. An intimate sort of place with a few tables upstairs and a long bar and a downstairs area overlooking the kitchen, very contemporary.
The service is fabulous, being both relaxed and efficient. And I have to say that good looking waiters with latin accents always do it for me. And then there’s the food.
The menu changes frequently and offers enough choices without being overwhelming. We shared some starters and one enormous and particularly satisfying main course.
A plate of salami to start with, served with a jar of house pickles. Fresh and crunchy and perfect combined with the richness of the meat.
There were three offerings under the title Classic Empanadas. I like empanadas well enough but often find them a bit too oily and lacking in flavour so initially it wasn’t on our list of dishes to order. Then I saw a plateful being delivered to the next table and quickly added it to the list! This is the king of empanadas, beautiful pastry, amazing beef (obviously being Argentinian I guess) and melt in the mouth.
And it just kept getting better. We ordered the chicken matambre off the starter section, with the words “I don’t know what it is but let’s give it a try”. One of the nicest, most inventive dishes I’ve eaten for a while – chicken stuffed with the quails egg and green peas and cooked sous vide, served on a tasty pea puree.
Argentina is world-renowned for its steaks, so our main was an obvious choice. Plus the fact that (very critical) food critic Fay Maschler recently waxed lyrical about the dish. The chef recommends it’s cooked medium rare and it arrives topped with an amazing concoction of herbs and spices and simply oozing flavour. And it’s a substantial plate of food, too, plenty big enough for two.
With our steak we ordered what could be the best chips ever! Crispy on the outside, luscious on the inside with herby, salty flavours. Yum.
The entire wine list is from Argentina and we had a Serbal Chardonnay from Mendoza. Seriously stunning – I’m gravitating back to Chardonnay more and more – of course I’m told the “new Chardonnay” is taking the world by storm. It certainly doesn’t taste like I remember it (well not all of it anyway).
What a welcome back to the London restaurant scene. Zoilo is just my type of place, great atmosphere and service, and fabulous food that’s a bit different (in a good way). And it’s triggered a thought in my head that I really should go to Argentina. But that’s for later.
Zoilo is at 9 Duke Street.