Zoilo, Marylebone

  • DATE #120
  • Written by Kitty Wakeful (Guest Author)
  • 6 years ago
It, like, totally, changed my life.

The Vibe

A gap year in BA was all the rage till Argentina became too expensive, pricing the alumni of Britain’s schools and universities out of the metropolis. Its finest restaurants will no longer feed you for a fiver and, anyway, you’ve probably grown up and devoted yourself to your desk in W1 with every reason to stay put. Zoilo is a hop, skip and a jump headfirst out of the window of Oxford Street’s office blocks, a refuge for the gap year diaspora mired in Marylebone.  It’s a restaurant to make you value the appreciation of the Argentine peso that has stemmed the flow of tourists to BA and helped make Europe a destination for its culinary talent. A thick black veil draped over the door keeps out the draught and riff-raff, sealing in the warm glow of the candlelit tables which line the long bar on the ground floor. Black and white chequered flooring recalls Smithfield’s Polpo to which it bears a conceptual resemblance. Unlike fellow Argentine hotspot Garufa in Highbury (which I maintain offers London’s No. 1 post-coital brunch: peerless chips and endless, unsolicited refills of tap water), there’s not an empanada in sight. Zoilo is expensive and sophisticated as befits its postcode, serving small, sapid plates of food to seduce the most implacable of romantic sourpusses.

The Order

Allow yourself to be guided by your waiter. We had queso de chancho (gooey braised pigs’ heads encased in deep-fried breadcrumbs with quince – £4.95), grilled octopus, leeks, potato and tuna mayo (meaty, mild, requiring little in the way of mastication – £9.25), prawns al ajo, pork belly and chorizo (the prawns a dangerously garlicky distraction from the solid but supple pork belly – £8.95) and rib eye steak with chimichurry (at last something you’ll recognise from your gap year – £10.95), washed down with red wine by the carafe. Their wine list is purely Argentine. Order pudding wine with dulche de leche crème brûlée – a masterful marriage topped with banana split ice cream (£6.95).

The Game

Bookings for two are all you can do, setting a romantic tone before you’re through the door. If that sounds like competitive coupledom hell, queue for a seat at the bar downstairs which is louder and where you can watch the chefs in action from an open kitchen like Duck and Waffle’s. You’ll find plentiful distractions should your company prove wanting, not least the charming staff. Zoilo has bustle, intimacy and delectable food and drink. Just take someone – anyone – for it’s too good to miss. If the evening’s a success there’ll be a glut of taxis on Wigmore St to whisk you straight home. Or pre-emptively book a couple of stools at the triangular bar of new wine bar-cum-restaurant 28-50 on Marylebone Lane if you can afford to throw more money at the situation.

The Faults


Sex Factor

4. Uniformly two-man tables are a romantic insinuation impossible to ignore.

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