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9 Duke Street
Readers love the “great, relaxed atmosphere” conjured at this little patch of Argentina – and we’re fans too. Space is at a premium, with an open kitchen counter in the basement and a long bar with more seating above, but what Zoilo lacks in wide horizons, it makes up for in punchy flavours and cross-country variety. It’s all about the small plates, so commit to an empanada or three while you navigate the menu: bubbling provolone cheese, its farmyard notes offset with oregano honey, has been a hit since day one; from here it’s a brief hop to rib-eye with intensely garlicky chips, grilled lamb chops with green pea and morel ragù or grilled octopus with black tomatoes, Jersey royals and pickled mussel mayo. The sweet tooth of a nation is reflected in a changing roster of dulce de leche desserts, and the all-Argentinean wine list aids exploration.
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9 Duke Street
Bond Street Tube Station 263m
Marble Arch Tube Station 602m
Wigmore Street 110m
James Street 153m
Mon-Sat 12N-2.30pm 5.30-10pm
Food & Drink:
Rate & Review
Food + drink: 4
Think of Argentine cuisine and the typical response is steak. Zoilo, a small and intimate restaurant on the northern edge of Mayfair, proves this claim wrong. The food my comrade and I sampled on a recent weekday lunchtime certainly impressed, as did the ambience, even if the service was something of a let-down. The venue itself is small (but did not feel crowded) with room for around 20 covers upstairs spread between tables and seats at the bar. There is also a downstairs with an open-kitchen, although on a bright summer’s day we did not venture here. In terms of the food, Zoilo’s menu stresses that Argentine cuisine is a ‘fascinating mix of cultures’ reflecting both its indigenous heritage as well as its legacy of immigration. The menu itself is conveniently separated into distinct sections such as ‘land’ and ‘sea’ and our server informed us that the format here was along the lines of tapas, namely we should select a series of dishes, all of which would be appropriate for sharing. We loved the empanadas - a posh take on pasties - with which we began, one beef (rich and hearty) and one spinach & goat’s cheese (sumptuous and savoury). Our crab on toast which followed was also superb, delicately light, but still packed with flavour. At this stage, however, two problems occurred. First, maybe Argentines are a portly lot (I do not know any personally), but we already felt fairly full, although we still had a further five dishes to come. Second, maybe as a result of portion size and the need to digest, we had to endure a notable wait before our next dishes. This is all well and good if you want to linger, but we had deliberately arrived early at the restaurant to avoid the main crowd and were in a slight rush too. The next dishes, when they eventually came, also hit the mark, although Zoilo excelled more with its fish options (both the ceviche and the squid were among the best sampled recently in London) than with its meat (the pork, for example, was fatty and half-cold when it arrived). The wine list deserves note, with an unsurprisingly heavy local bias, and we enjoyed an attractively priced carafe of white made with the Torrontes grape. Overall, do pay a visit here, but don’t be in a rush, don’t over-order and make sure you try more than just the meat.
Food + drink: 5
I've lost track of the number of times I have recommended this restaurant to friends and colleagues and every single one of them comes back raving about it! Food is amazing, served in a relaxed atmosphere by friendly and knowledgable staff.
The menu was unique and interesting. The waiters took time to explain the menu – service was prompt and friendly. Everything was delicious – the flank steak was divine. The crab and corn soup is noteworthy and worth trying. We walked in without reservation and sat at the bar – place had a lovely ambience.
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