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Zoilo

9 Duke Street, London, W1U 3EG, United Kingdom

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Zoilo is an Argentinian restaurant run by Diego Jacquet and Alberto Abbate, who already have another London restaurant called Casa Malevo. Zoilo, which is just south of Manchester Square, opened in late 2012 and offers subtler fare than the steaks that many people associate with Argentinian food. The upstairs has a bar with counter seating and a few tables, and downstairs there is an open kitchen, more tables and a small private dining room; free Wi-Fi is provided. The head chef is actually Tara Sobott, an Australian; she was not around when I visited.

The fairly short wine list was almost entirely Argentinian, ranging in price from £19.85 to £86.95. It featured wines such as Humberto Canale 2012 at £27.95 for a wine you can find in the high street for around £12, Assemblage 2008 at £47.95 for a wine that retails at about £31, and Quimera 2010 at £78.95 for a wine that will set you back around £41. 

The menu is tapas style. Beef empanadas (£3.50) is a pastry stuffed with, in this case, beef, potatoes and shallots. Additionally there were diced red and green bell peppers and a hint of curry powder, though to my taste this was a bit too subtle. The pastry had good texture with a filling that was pleasantly hearty, though I would have preferred a little more seasoning (13/20). 

Chicken matambre (£5.95) was a chicken roll with quail egg and peas, topped with salad, and served cold. The chicken is cooked sous-vide for 25 minutes, prepared with leeks, peas and the egg and rolled out, garnished with some finely diced red pepper as well as the salad. This was an enjoyable dish, the dressing nicely balanced, the peas having quite good flavour and the chicken accurately cooked (14/20).

A dish of prawns, pork belly and chorizo was a rather mixed affair. The pork belly was excellent, not too fatty and working well with the chorizo, but the prawns were slightly overcooked (13/20, but this would have been higher except for the prawns). I also tried a potato and artichoke tatin (£4.95), which had a nicely gratinated cheese topping and layers of potatoes with firm texture, interleaved with artichoke puree and was well-seasoned (14/20). 

I finished with Musetti coffee (£2.95) and Alfajores de maizena (£1.95), cookies with a spread filling made from caramelised condensed milk, which were very pleasant. Service from my waiter/bartender was friendly and helpful. The bill came to £33.75 for lunch with water to drink. If you had a modest wine and dessert then a realistic bill might be around £50 or so. Overall I enjoyed Zoilo, the overall cooking between 13/20 and 14/20 level, and with moderate pricing. I would happily return.

 

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