Another month and another vegetarian outing. Our last outing brought us to Zilli Green, the vegetarian outpost of Italian chef, Aldo Zilli. Located really centrally in Soho, it’s a great spot for all of us to meet at because it’s pretty much surrounded by all sorts of transport.
When I walked in, one of my dining companions already had been seated. The first dining area isn’t very large – in fact, it’s no larger than a small hallway and I thought it was going to be a much larger place. Maybe there’s some seats downstairs.
They went to quite a lot of effort to cram in plenty of tables. In fact, I noticed this clearly when sitting down and found my legs almost barely squeezing in between the two table legs and the chair. No space for them to sit outside. Hmph.
Anyway, on to the food. Zilli Green’s menu covers a broad range of dishes. It wasn’t quite as Italian-centric as I anticipated with dishes inspired by Asian classics, British favourites and the touch of Tex Mex. Each menu option lists some useful symbols to help choose if you happen to be vegan, nut or gluten allergy-friendly dishes. Helpful!
Quite a few of us went for the Squash, Corn & Feta Quesadillas with Guacamole & Sour Cream (£7.90). I’d hoped for a bit more kick than we got, and though the flavours tasted strong and well prepared, seemed a bit overpriced for a starter.
I admit I’m obsessed by truffle flavours at the moment. Their umaminess and richness add so much depth to the dishes, it’s my winter comfort food. I was struck when on the menu, two dishes included this magnificent ingredient. In the end I picked the Tagliatelle, Porcini Mushrooms & White Truffle Oil (£13.90). I think it was the extra dash of oil and the porcini mushrooms that did me in. Perfectly al dente pasta and each mouthful a flavour sensation, I was certainly pleased by it.
Fortunately someone else went for the Mushroom & Fresh Truffle Risotto, Grilled Asparagus & Mascarpone (£11.90). I had a small taste and the truffle flavour seemed a bit more sublime, it carried on the palette slightly longer probably due to the creamy mascarpone.
Another person ordered the Cous Cous & Soya Burger with Pickled Cucumber, Avocado, Mustard Dressed Mixed Leaves, Homemade Mayo & Ketchup, Thin Chips (£10.90) though wasn’t particularly impressed by it. They reported it not bad, but not the best vegetarian burger they’d ever had.
We had better reports from the handful of people ordering the Thai Green Curry with Sweet Potato & Thai Vegetables served with Quinoa (£11.90). Strong flavours and a very reasonable serve though slightly out of place in what I’d consider an Italian restaurant.
On all reports, it’s worth avoiding the Tofu Sausage with Spring Onion Mash, Mushroom Gravy & Mushy Peas (£11.90). Perhaps it’s just me, but I think it’s always a bit dangerous trying to replicate a dish typically relying on the quality of the meat to make it that good.
I wasn’t close enough to capture the picture but one other diner recommended avoiding the Beetroot Gnocchi filled with Blue Cheese in a Red Pesto, Potato & French Bean Sauce (£10.90) where the giant sized (and few) gnocchi ended up being very chewy pillows with, as they described it, ” what tasted like splashes of bottled pesto”.
Zilli Green isn’t going to win any Michelin stars for service any time soon, although we do have to acknowledge one of the waiters who, when pressed for vegan-friendly ice cream, went next door to sister restaurant Zilli Bar to report on what gelato and ice-creams they had. Apparently vegan-friendly ice cream wasn’t favoured by this group of vegetarians. Upon making our waiter go next door, my dining companion couldn’t help but feel compelled to order a scoop.
Their slightly different twist on the classic, Apple, Currant & Clove Crumble with Cream or Ice Cream (£5.50) had be tempted yet was completely full from the rest of the meal.
Name: Zilli Green (currently moving or closed)
Found at: 41 Dean St, London, W1D 4PY