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March 8, 2013updated Jan 29, 2014

London’s Best Restaurants: Zoilo

By Chris Boyle


Having worked at the legendary El Bulli and Marcus Samuelsson’s Aquavit, chef Diego Jacquet has learned from some of the best.

Lucky London then, which now enjoys not one but two restaurants by the Argentine maestro.

Zoilo is the second venture for Jacquet and restaurateur Alberto Abbate, following the success of Casa Malevo, which opened to great acclaim two years ago in nearby Connaught Village. Like its predecessor, Zoilo offers ‘Cocina Argentina’—traditional Argentine cooking that proves the country has a lot more to offer than steaks the size of gravestones.

The menu spans the length and breadth of Argentina, from Diego’s native Patagonia all the way north to Salta, via the Pampas and Mendoza. Dishes are served as sharing plates, which means you won’t miss a thing—and you won’t want to. Starters include delicious empanadas (small meat pastries) and queso de chancho (braised pig’s head served in bread-crumbed balls with a quince sauce). Put your prejudice aside and order the sweetbreads for mains—served with grilled lemon and onion, these are something special. Also good is the entraña (skirt steak) served in bite-size slices with thin, crispy parsnip and parsley. All this is complemented by some excellent side dishes—don’t miss the potato and artichoke gratin, and the wild mushrooms with fried duck egg and grilled faina (flatbread).

To follow, the dulce de leche is an Argentine favorite akin to crème brûlée, and is done here to perfection. Ideal with coffee are the alfajores de maizena, shortbread-like biscuits with a sweet, sticky center, served in a rather stylish little box.

Needless to say, the wine list is big on Malbec, and wines by the carafe make it easy to taste a selection—highly recommended. The cocktail-inclined will have fun with the house specials, which include the Sweet Fernando with Fernet Branca, honey, lime and egg white, and the Longchamps Boogie with sparkling wine, Frangelico, lemon sorbet and mint.

The restaurant occupies two levels, with the ground floor reminiscent of a classic Buenos Aires café, and the lower level offering open kitchen seating and a cozy private room for eight guests. The front of house team puts you instantly at ease, and will happily talk you through the less familiar creations. Casual, buzzy and exceptionally tasty, Zoilo is a breath of fresh air in restaurant-rich Marylebone.

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