eat: zoilo

ZOILO

She says: Another new South American eatery has charmingly entered my neighbourhood in November 2012. Tempted by @wilkes888 and his glowing verdict of Zoilo during their opening week, I gathered the troops to Marylebone for a Saturday lunch. We’re here on a double date with our lovely friends from Australia, Bonnie & Will.  Once you find your way through the mass of black curtain at the entrance, you’ll notice the long understated wooden bar that stretches across the length of the narrow room. This is the second joint venture by the team that founded Casa Malevo near Marble Arch / Paddington.

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He says: Red wine is swiftly ordered and generously poured for us. It’s a 2011 Altas Cumbres Malbec which is deliciously fruity and velvety – an awesome Argentinian wine from Mendoza to accompany our grazing.

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The food: Our highlights included…

She says: The empanadas, small savoury starters, designed to whet the appetite are quickly devoured. They are traditionally served in South America as a ‘mid morning snack’. We ordered the beef plus the cumin flavoured chicken. The winner for us is the “Empanadas Salteñas”. There’s a marvellous reveal of stewed spiced beef after our first bite into the crunchy golden pastry case, which melts slowly in the mouth.

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He says: The wild mushrooms with poached egg & white beans was another simple yet pleasing dish, with a gorgeous burst of yolk that oozed onto the plate. There is something just satisfying about runny yolk on toast along with mushrooms…

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She says: Loved the grilled octopus, tender yet not stringy or floury like it tends to become when cooked too long. It was nicely seasoned with red pepper and capers.
He says: Over cooked octopus is terrible because it is chewy. Don’t be afraid they don’t do that here. Some people may be turned off on octopus (seriously what animal has 8 tentacles?), but try it!

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She says: Who doesn’t love a good Argentinian steak? The last one I recall having was at Constancia in London Bridge. Cooked medium rare, the rib eye is lovely and tender. Being a herb fanatic, the generous spread of chimichurry on top of the meat lavishly agrees with me though may be overpowering for some. It’s a a tangy herb and garlic sauce, which typically accompanies Argentinian grilled meats.
He says: A good 300g steak at a good price (£20.95), what else could one ask for?

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She says: Sweetbreads garnished with onion, lemon and tomato were grilled to perfection with a crisp outer and creamy texture on the inside, akin to chicken liver.
He says: Note sweetbreads are not really a type of bread. If you really want to know what it is then Google it up, all you need to know is that it’s yummy.

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She says: The prawns “al ajo”, pork belly & chorizo was a plateful of rich and sweet flavours. I loved the union between the smokiness of the prawn and the glazed tenderness of the pork belly. Would definitely come back for this dish.

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She says: Creme brûlée was served in a thin, shallow dish. Amazingly warm dessert with a caramelised crunch! Can’t go wrong!
He says: Knock knock, who’s there? A good creme brulee has that nice sugar top that is so fun to break into.

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She says: The milk cake and passionfruit sorbet was served in the cutest glass bowl ever, reminded me of something made by Bodum! I want one! The passionfruit was refreshing and the milk cake was light. Perfect way to end a glorious meal on a sweet note, that’s not too sickly!

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The verdict: We were left feeling absolutely content after this meal and raved about Zoilo to our friends after. The service was fantastic and friendly with patient, detailed explanations of all the dishes that weren’t comprehensible to a non Spanish or Castellano speaker. We paid approximately £40pp for the food and a bottle of wine to share (including two other dishes, croquettes and gnocchi which aren’t pictured above). I took a quick peek around the place and there’s also a fully open kitchen in the lower floor where you can witness all the ‘Cocina Argentina’ action. Would recommend Zoilo for groups so that you get to try more on their reasonably priced menu (economies of scale!). They also have a separate groups menu so it would be a nice place to return for a birthday or special occasion as they have a private room that fits up to 8 people.  It’s also a great little date venue for dinner or weekend lunch. Situated so centrally, plenty of opportunities to shop on Oxford Street after or take a leisurely stroll up Marylebone High Street so you can feel guilt free and walk off the delicious meal!

Address: 9 Duke Street, London W1U 3EG
Telephone: 020 7486 9699
Website: www.zoilo.co.uk

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