As a big fan of Zilli Fish, I was intrigued to try out his newest venture, a vegetarian restaurant on the site of Signor Zilli called Zilli Green. Walking in past the unassuming frontage reveals a very neutral if somewhat cramped feeling space. It’s pretty busy and so fairly noisy, but this is Soho and when you eat out in Soho expect to be hemmed in by people on all sides. We shared a big mezze platter and some olive ascolane. These are cheese stuffed olives deep fried and served with pear chutney. Yes, deep fried olives stuffed with cheese, which is definitely my kind of vegetarian eating. The hummus, tabbouleh, and babaganoush are all tasty but fairly foolproof so let’s move on to our mains.
I had a tempeh and coconut curry with rice. Tempeh is a type of ‘wholebean’ Indonesian tofu and provides the meat analogue in this dish. I thought the curry was a little watery but the tempeh is great and I much prefer it to tofu which I despise. And yes before militant veggies start banging on about marinating it in this and that and how I’ve “just not had good tofu”, I’ve tried it in many different forms and the only time I find it palatable is in miso so leave me alone! My dates enjoyed their mains although I think if I had eaten the quinoa and pistachio salad with grilled haloumi that one of them had I would’ve been left pretty hungry. But then I guess it’s meant to be a lighter option.
I’m very partial to a good Malbec and although I always think of it as a rare steak kind of wine the bottle we share doesn’t overpower any of my food. I’ve tactically saved room for a dessert and frankly if you’re eating in an Italian restaurant and you don’t go for the tiramisu what are you doing? I duly opt for the tiramisu and it’s every bit as delicious as a homemade Italian tiramisu should be.
The verdict then? For the money I think I’d rather go to Ottolenghi and it won’t replace Boudins as my eatery of choice in Soho but if you’re a vegetarian give it a whirl. At the very least go and have a go at beating Mr. Zilli’s world record for pancaking tossing (117 in one minute!) next week on pancake day (Tuesday 8th march) outside his Zilli Fish restaurant and cafe at 36-44 brewer street from 9am onwards. [Insert world champion tosser jokes here!]