Zoilo: Friendly Argentinean Tapas restaurant in Marylebone
On a lovely spring day we wandered down
Duke Street in Marylebone to have lunch at Zoilo,
an Argentinean tapas restaurant that opened about six months ago. It’s not
really been on my radar (and I tend to know about most restaurants in
Marylebone) so I didn’t know what to expect. At first glance, it has rather
low key unassuming appearance and when we walked in, we felt a bit odd to be
the only customers there for lunch on Sunday afternoon. Any doubts I had were
pushed aside by the friendly welcome from the staff and we were invited to take
our pick of seats. We opted to perch ourselves at the bar counter and soon
found ourselves in a discussion about Argentinean wines with the bar manager.
We started with some empanadas – one spiced beef and the other spinach with raisins and pine nuts. The empanadas were decent but rather forgettable to be honest. We also had Provoleta - a type of salty cheese melted with almonds and honey. An interesting flavour combination but it needs to be eaten quickly otherwise it gets fairly hard and chewy.
What stood out for me were the main dishes. The best was the Asado– Flank steak with bone marrow and a celeriac mash. The steak was cooked perfectly pink with hint of red and the bone marrow just intensified the flavour stunningly. A simple yet heady dish.
The Morcilla with Criolla was amazing as well. Grilled Spanish Black pudding garnished with thinly sliced scallions, peppers and red onions which perfectly offset the density and earthiness of the black pudding. Next was the Grilled Octopus which got rather side-lined by the gorgeous potato and leeks salad it was served with.
And the star of the show was the dessert – Dulce de leche Crème Brulee with banana ice cream. It was like everything good in this world came together to create these perfectly harmonious flavours. Right, that may be a tad bit dramatic but you really need to order this if you go.
The funny thing was despite being the only ones in the restaurant, we didn’t feel awkward or isolated at all – thanks to the welcoming and friendly manner of the staff at Zoilo. The bar manager was telling us where he was from in Argentina and drawing us maps of the Salta and Mendoza wine regions, the waitress was chatting to my companion in Spanish, the chefs who were working downstairs would pop in and out to pick up and always have a friendly smile. The entire dining experience was so pleasant and relaxed – making me feel utterly comfortable. I believe they are much busier in the evenings but on a lazy Sunday afternoon, I had such a good time there and can’t wait to try more things on their menu (like the braised crispy Pigs head!) and have that heavenly dulce de leche crème brulee again.
So don’t get perturbed by the rather unassuming exterior or the heavy black curtains framing the doorway (which they really should get rid of.) Inside is a perfectly good restaurant with lovely staff who serve up gorgeous plates of Argentinean food.
9 Duke Street London W1U 3EG
Tel: 020 7486 9699
Tube: Bond Street