Wednesday, 5 December 2012


In this tidal wave of dirty burgers, filthy dogs, chicken shacks and other ‘dude food’ (I know), it’s quite refreshing for something a little different and original to open up. And probably good business, as the fatigue sets in - even my Mum is bored reading burger reviews. Step forward Zoilo, an Argentine food-led bar in Marylebone...

Having visited Buenos Aires recently which I am still crashing on about (and resolutely, smugly pronouncing as 'Aye-rez'), I wanted to recreate the experience, namely the food and booze. Which is pretty much the core of my experience anywhere on my travels. Or at home for that matter.

A couple of earth-shattering facts: Zoilo isn’t a steak house. And yes, there is Argentine food which isn’t steak. It may only serves as a precursor to the main meat event, but it does exist.

We had one of each of the empanadas – punchy at £3.50 each but perfectly sizeable to share. In addition to beef and olive, they do spinach and pine nut, and chicken and cumin. I wasn’t sure about all the flour on top which was drying and reminded me of talc on a baby's bum.

House salami and pickles was absolutely delicious. A selection of three different salamis were thickly cut and served with a variety of pickled veg. Again at £8.50, this dish stood out among better value sharing plates.

Chorizo was sold out on our visit sadly, as was the pork belly.

Chips ‘Provencal’ (about £3) were one of the big revelations from my BA trip. Crunchy, double fried chips drenched in chimichurri – fantastic. Absolutely worth the French breath and green teeth.

And boys being boys, of course we did share the larger ojo de bife at about £20. It came laden with a chimichurri-type marinade, but heavier on the chilli than the parsley. This seasoning was heavy, but very tasty. The actual beef was of good quality too – such an expanse of flavour could easily be covering up a sub-standard bit of meat, but no worries there.

Drinks-wise, there are some cocktails but Zoilo is best for trying Argentine wines – they have a great selection by the glass including the usual Malbecs but also some northern Cabs and a brilliant Patagonian Pinot Noir. They average about £7.50 a glass so it can quickly add up.

Service was keen and the food was good quality. However, it’s effectively an Argentine small plates resto of the Polpo or Duck Soup school, so as ever beware of that bill. It tots up quite easily and I’m not I was sufficiently stuffed for the £62 per head I was relieved of (without dessert or coffee). 

For that kind of money, I should be rolling out of there; screaming at cars, howling at the moon, oblivious to my impending gout and cirrhosis.

One final point, possibly the most irritating as it’s the most moronic. The stools are about 2 inches too short for the bar. So don’t sit at the bar; it’s infuriating and ruins what otherwise is a great perch. Easily fixed, so sort it out Argies. And get some measuring tape for next time… 

Food – 8/10 
Drink – 8/10 
Service - 8/10 
Value – 6/10 
Tap water tales – 6/10
Staff Hotness - 8/10

Zoilo on Urbanspoon

Square Meal

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