It’s quite strange when moments coincide. Like when you’re thinking about someone and they happen to text you that day, or that classic (and often freakishly on point) ‘everything happens in three’s’ – something that never usually involves a lottery win, finding the person of your dreams or losing 20 pounds without doing anything, but rather breaking a foot, having your bike stolen and getting evicted.
I digress, but on the day I was reviewing Zilouf’s, a small article appeared on a very well known daily newsletter, praising their Asian dishes and creative cocktail menu. What are the chances? Given the plethora of restaurants in London, pretty slim. The gauntlet was thrown, on a quest for complex cuisine and cocktails, and we weren’t disappointed.
Based in prime position on Islington’s Upper Street, Zilouf’s has recently undergone a full refurbishment, with a newly devised fusion menu, and variety of cocktails aimed to compliment their Asian tapas-style dishes.
We arrived on a warm spring day and I was happy to see the front of the restaurant was heaving with people, drinking and sampling bites in the last of the evening’s sun.
We were recommended a refreshing gin and Campari cocktail and started with dishes of winter root vegetable salad, Zilouf’s prawn toast, and crispy cuttlefish dumplings. The toasts were layered with wonton and the combination of lychee and prawn was subtle and sublime. The dumplings packed more of a punch with lots of Thai basil and tender slices of cuttlefish, almost perfect had there been more sauce and extra heat.
The dishes that followed provided classic Asian sweet, salty and spicy combinations, but with elegance. This included slow cooked beef with chilli, a salad of miso, baby gem and avocado, and crispy pork belly with kohlrabi fondant, som tum peanut salad and pickled chilli.
A dish not ordered, but perhaps my favourite, was the San Choy Bau; spiced beef and lamb mince, and baby gem. There is something very satisfying about the combination of rich, spicy meat flavoured with palm sugar and lime, piled on top of fresh baby gem lettuce – a sharing dish that I would love to try at home.
My friend sampled one of London’s ‘best espresso martinis’ (she was in 100% agreement), and I was given my favourite Frangelico, but in the form of a sour. These were excellent aperitifs and went well with our petit fours of raspberry marshmallow, coconut truffles and salted caramel with fresh pineapple. So often Asian desserts can be a let-down, these were delightful and the perfect finale.
Zilouf’s new menu features cleverly devised, well-priced and complex East-meets-West dishes. Each plate was considered, ideal for sharing and left us wanting more.
270 Upper Street
0207 226 1118