Before dining at Zoilo, read the fine print. At all times and all places, read it.
Upon making an online booking at this establishment, I presumed I had made a table reservation (this emphasis is important). However, when I arrived at the restaurant with my friend, we were seated at the bar. I was instructed that I had not specifically indicated in my booking that I would like to sit at an actual table, as it was apparently explained to me I was supposed to do in the fine print of the email booking confirmation I received. Call me crazy but I don’t normally read the fine print of dinner reservation confirmation email. Certainly, check the date is right, time is right, number of diners is right and yep that’s pretty much it. Fine print telling me I need to call the restaurant to say if I actually want a table? Not so much. Unfortunately, there were no tables available, which I knew there wouldn’t be on a Thursday night at 19:00, hence the reservation. The maître d seemed very nonchalant about this, as if it was standard protocol.
As a result, we had to endure an awkward evening of dangling legs and facing the bartenders more than each other.
Forgetting the over-attentive and eager barstaff which made for a more stressful than relaxing experience, the food was quite nice.
Queso de chancho, braised pig head croquettes & quince jam was a pleasant surprise. Literally translated as ‘pig cheese,’ queso de chancho is actually, get ready for it, a terrine made with flesh from the head of the pig. Fried in bread crumbs and served as a croquette, this was extremely tasty and complemented nicely by the sweet jam.
It wouldn’t be a standard Argentinian menu if there weren’t empanadas up for grabs. The braised beef skirt empanada with potatoes, onions and olives was delicious with perfectly flaky crust and tender meat. For a vegetarians there was a spinach, goats’ cheese, raisins and pine nuts option which was also delicious.
The highlight was definitely the grilled scallops served on a generous piece of caramelised pork belly topped with sprinkling of chorizo and a dollop of sweet potato.
The classic “Chimichurri” burger was served with provolone, grilled tomatoes, caramelised onions, pickles & aioli.
And for an attempt to add something slightly healthy into this pig head flesh-meat-pork fest, there was grilled watermelon salad with ricotta salata and roasted tomatoes
The menu is designed for sharing but if you’re greedy like the beast, 3 dishes from the menu will suffice for a single diner: a starter or an empanada, a meat or fish dish, and one of the side dishes. There is also the option to order the asado flank, rib eye, or sirloin steak as a main. All in all the meal along with a carafe of Malbec wine came to around £35 per person. Not cheap eats for sure but the quality of the food definitely justifies the price. I wish I could say the same for the service.
Again, when the bill came there was a £1 charge tacked on to go to the chef”s charity of choice, Hope for Children. We enquired about this £1 addition and lo and behold the waitress informed us that the FINE PRINT on the menu advises there will be a discretionary £1 charge added onto all bills to go to said charity. First of all, that is extremely cheeky to put on there. Secondly, they make you feel guilty about asking to take it off because then you look like an indulgent selfish snob who just blew 70 odd quid on a dinner but can’t give one measly pound to charity. Thirdly, the restaurant knows you will feel this guilt and is banking on that so you won’t ask them to remove the charge. Very deceptive.
It’s a shame that such nice food was spoiled by underhanded tactics and unimpressive service.
9 Duke Street
London W1U 3EG
T + 44 (0) 20 7486 9699