Every now and then, you discover a restaurant that’s so special you’re loath to share it with anyone else. Zoilo is one such place. I was lucky enough to come across it during a rare weekend shopping trip in the West End and it proved the perfect balm to my sore feet and weary brow (there’s a reason I venture down Oxford Street so infrequently on a Saturday; would that it remained the genteel thoroughfare of the 19th century).
A warm welcome, accompanied by a perfectly chilled glass of Torrontés, perked me up no end and I settled in to enjoy all the delights that this small, but perfectly formed, Argentinian restaurant has to offer. Tucked away behind Selfridges it is modern and inviting; black & white photos of Argentinian life adorn the walls, complemented by burgundy red banquette seating and striking black & white chequered floor tiles. Zoilo also plays host to an attractive bar area with stool seating – perfect if you fancy dropping in for a drink or a spot of tapas.
Now for the food – which was luscious. Argentinian cuisine remains irretrievably linked with steak and Malbec; a winning combination, to be sure, but these days it offers so much more. For my starter, I plumped for the Provoleta: baked Provolone cheese with almonds and oregano honey, accompanied by a delectable assortment of home-made breads. I find it hard to resist melted cheese at the best of times and lost track of time as I contentedly worked my way through a dish that I’ve never tried before, but loved; the sweetness of the honey providing the perfect foil to the smokiness of the cheese.
Choosing my main course was tricky, as Zoilo offers several interesting vegetarian options, but in the end I couldn’t resist the lure of the sea bass, my favourite fish, made even more appealing by the addition of mussels escabeche, monks beard and grilled Tropea onions. Definitely the right choice. The fish, seasoned to perfection, melted in the mouth, aided by the gorgeous sauce – and I loved the peach colour and salty tang of the mussels, which elevated this dish into something special.
To go with it, I’d ordered a side of grilled asparagus, goat’s curd and seeds chimichum. Every bit as divine as it sounds, I couldn’t resist mopping up the goat’s curd with the remaining bread (waste not, want not).
By now in an elevated state of bliss, I contemplated the dessert menu but, while the spirit was willing, the flesh was, indubitably, weak. I shall have to return to Zoilo on another occasion to sample its sweeter offerings, so will conclude this post by heartily recommending my new-found favourite restaurant and encouraging you to visit it as soon as you can. Just don’t tell anyone else.