(Zilouf's is now 100 ISLINGTON)
My brief for a girlie night out (really out, not just the local pub - Mums On The Town) was cocktails, cocktails and some food to set us up for the evening. Zilouf's ticked all the boxes. Located towards the Highbury end of Upper Street, we entered a seemingly regular pub, the clientele young, gorgeous and trendy (we fitted it perfectly, obviously). At the back, a dining room, cosy and quirky - some of the wallpaper could be construed as slightly rude, were they leaves, were they...?
Lovely, attentive and knowledgeable staff advised us on the cocktail menu, classics with a twist. Or, as we discovered, 'blow-the-head-off-you cocktails!' First round was a Margarita, a Mojito and a strawberry Daiquiri, giving the nod to the classics, along with a Hoxton 100 (ginger, lychee, chilli, lemon and fizz) and an Overproof Hurricane (a blend of rums, pineapple, Cointreau, lime, spices, and passionfruit). Strong, was one word. Second round was mainly Hoxton 100s. Oh yes, good choice.
The tapas-style small plates were perfect for sharing. Of the ten dishes on the menu we ordered eight, leaving out only the sprouting broccoli (I mean, who needs that on a night out) and the steak tartare - it's too rare for some people. But the dishes we chose were a selection of mouth-watering plates, all modern with an Asian-fusion theme. From the pork belly to the prawn toast, the flavours were zingy, fiery and oh-so-tasty, the seared salmon was 'lush', the cuttlefish fritter, 'unusual', and the spiced crispy beef the 'chilli-est' dish we had. A couple of vegetarian options - beetroot and feta salad, and a miso and apple concoction complemented pretty well, as did the triple cooked chips with mustard aioli. Feeling full - but not too stuffed, it was great to taste a little of everything, and head out for the rest of the evening with tingling tongues, taking the atmospheric buzz of Zilouf's with us.
270 Upper Street
Tel: 020 7226 1118
Dinner: ~£35 p/p