If the idea of deconstructed, small-plates Argentinian cooking seems a contradiction in terms, grab a counter seat and prepare to be amazed: extraordinary food.
There were no tables when we called to book. ‘But we’re a very counter-focused restaurant,’ they told us. This sounded like maître d’ spin, but on arrival all became clear, because this place is pretty much all counters: ground floor hugging the bar; downstairs around the kitchen. The few diners sat at actual tables looked a little left out by comparison. Watch us work, look how good we are, it seems to say.
Rightly so. This is deconstructed, small-plates Argentinian cooking, and it works – with flavours as good as these, you want as many different mouthfuls as you can get. An empanada’s pastry was expert, as enjoyable as its creamy spinach and raisin filling. Fried chunks of queso de chancho (‘head cheese’) were like a seriously adult version of chicken nuggets. A miniature steak (softened up with the sous vide treatment then blasted on the grill) was flawless, the flavour like undiluted beef cordial.
But the full choirs came out for the sous vide-cooked octopus (with ‘tuna mayo’, no less) and again for some sweetbreads, which were so delicate it seemed cruel to bite into them. But we did, and how sweetly they submitted. Desserts run from a traditional, ultra-sweet ‘tres leches’ milk cake to a tart passionfruit sorbet, and most of the all-Argentinian wine list is available by glass or small carafe. Chef Diego Jacquet has also teamed with restaurateur Alberto Abbate to open sister restaurant Casa Malevo.
9 Duke Street
|Opening hours:||Lunch served noon-3pm, dinner served 5.30-10.30pm Mon-Sat.|
|Transport:||Tube: Bond Street tube|
|Price:||Dishes £3.50-£31.95. Meal for two with drinks and service: around £80|
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Average User Rating
4.2 / 5
- 5 star:3
- 4 star:1
- 3 star:0
- 2 star:1
- 1 star:0
We had a really amazing dinner at this restaurant. Every single dish
was sublime and the waiter was very professional and friendly. Would
especially recommend the sea bass ceviche and the provolone cheese with
honey and almonds. A really great dinner, go check it out.
The lack of natural light lends a rather sombre feel. Cocktails were just ok, wine was expensive but quality, sweets were excellent. I love tapas but this particular Cocina Argentina rendition didn’t particularly inspire me; felt a bit artificial in my very subjective opinion. Food was generally good, but the steaks were more of a disappointment. No Sirloin left at 6.30 on a Saturday night. The flank was nice but the ribeye was sinewy. Complained twice about the ribeye but only got sweet smiles. The Chef obviously thought it was ‘good enough’. Zoilo offers a slightly different dining experience, but even putting the steaks aside, it was not special enough to warrant a return. Maybe they are not bothered about repeat custom. If they were they would take complaints a little more seriously, especially for the meaty prices they are charging.
Had an amazing lunch at this little round-the-back-of-selfridges establishment. Inconspicuous place with top quality Argentinean Tapas. I'm yet to try Casa Malevo (from the same owners) but I did have the steak, amongst empanadas and other small plates, at Zoilo which took me right back to Argentina and reminded me how little we know about steak here in the UK. It is typical of our basic "health-conscious" culinarily immaturity that we should order a "fat-free" filet only to smother it in Béarnaise or Peppercorn sauce (or brown sauce). It is the marbled fat in the perfectly cooked rib-eyes in Argentina that really provide the meat its flavour and Zoilo does the best job (that I have tried so far) of replicating that this side of the Atlantic. I say swap your peppercorn sauce for sea salt and Chimichurri, face your fear of visible fat and order the rib-eye at Zoilo!