I’ve been wanting to try Zilli Green since it opened in February. Not least because it has been the subject of wildly varying reviews, from the good, to the bad and the downright ugly! Aldo Zilli runs several restaurants and bars, as well as being a tv chef. He decided to open a vegetarian restaurant after adopting a healthy lifestyle and appearing on ‘Celebrity Fit Club’. He doesn’t cook in the restaurant himself, leaving the honours to head chef Enzo di Marino, a long-standing vegan. I checked before going that everything on the menu is veggie, including all the cheeses (and yes, that includes the parmesan!)
So what did I think? Well, I guess some of the comments about the design of the restaurant are correct, it is simple to the point of being bare. We hardly noticed though, as it was a hot evening and we sat outside to watch the weird and wonderful world of Soho pass by. We ate from the early special menu as we went straight from work, so two courses for £9.90 was a great deal.
We had the Quinoa Salad with Pistachios and Halloumi for starters, which I absolutely loved. Simple, but with some nice herby overtones; light, always good in a starter; and pistachios and halloumi, what’s not to love?
Main courses were Tofu Sausages with Spring Onion Mash, Mushy Peas and Mushroom Gravy and Tagliatelle with Porcini Mushrooms and White Truffle Oil. Now, I didn’t taste the pasta dish, as porcini and truffle are not my favourite flavours, but the report was good, even though the portion wasn’t huge. My dish was very filling though and I enjoyed it. The sausages themselves didn’t have much flavour to speak of, but the tangy gravy made up for that. The mash and mushy peas were excellent.
Dessert was a Carob Cake with Passion Fruit and Mint. This I thought was the highlight of the meal and definitely want the recipe! How did something which was vegan, gluten free and made of carob (ie. not chocolate!) taste so good? It was like a good dark chocolate truffle, but with the flavour of fruit and a hint of carob, while the texture was superb. The mint and passion fruit were the perfect accompaniment.
It may be hard to judge the atmosphere of the restaurant while sitting on the street outside, but certainly the staff were relaxed and friendly. This seemed like a ‘local’ place, rather than a ‘destination’.
I think overall the meal stopped at ‘very good’ without tipping over into greatness. We wouldn’t book a special night out here, but would certainly go pre-theatre or for a nice lunch. But I will certainly be going again and look forward to trying more of the menu.
41 Dean Street, Soho
London W1D 4PY
Tel: 020 7734 3924