Ziloufs is among the long list of restaurants along Islington Upper Steet that doesn't usually open for weekday lunches. "We did try but found that there's not much of a crowd," the friendly waitress replied when we asked. Looks like Carluccio's further up along Upper Street has soaked up all the demand. A pity really as Ziloufs does look every bit the place to hang out on afternoons.
After a light breakfast that Saturday, we were all ready for a more substantial lunch. I made a booking via Toptable, headed out and received the reservation confirmation a couple of minutes later. Neat.
Ziloufs is actually much larger than its facade suggests and I couldn't help but noticed that it literally caters for everyone. Alfresco dining - check, large bar area - check, comfy leather sofas - check, proper dining tables - check. The decor is eclectic to boot; I spied a Chinese vase, Singer sewing machine and a ancient CRT TV placed alongside each other in a corner.
One thing about Ziloufs is that it doesn't actually serve lunch. We were presented with a brunch menu at 2pm and the most substantial item on the menu is Ziloufs' Big Breakfast (£8.50).
"It looks good," I took some time to appreciate the presentation to an otherwise unimaginative named dish. Instead of the normal mix mesh, Ziloufs' breakfast actually looked inviting. The kitchen managed to arrange two poached eggs, hash, mushrooms, sausages, ham, bacon, beans and toast neatly on a plate – an achievement in itself. Other than the mushrooms that were a tad tired looking, the dish far exceeded my expectations. The hash deserves a special mention. One way to distinguish between a factory made and a handmade hash is its compactness. The former is usually fluffier (think McDonald’s) while the latter is more compact and you can actually taste the bits of potatoes. Ziloufs' was superb in that respect. Infused with bits of spring onions, it really stood out on the platter. If only it was serve a bit warmer.
With dessert in mind, Wife went for a lighter option - maple glazed French toast (£4.50). The two thick slices of toast came with rashes of cured bacon. While Wife liked the toast, she didn’t really care for the cured bacon. “A bit too heavy” was her verdict. I thought that while its toast cannot be compared to Ottolenghi’s, it wasn’t bad at all considering its price.
Dessert came in the form of sticky toffee pudding with honeycomb ice cream (£5). After downing my Big Breakfast and possibly half of Wife’s French toast, I shouldn’t really be touching the dessert. The waitress served the dessert and very helpfully slid two dessert spoons onto the table. I couldn’t resist it and started attacking the pudding.
There was this bitter sweet aftertaste to Ziloufs' toffee pudding. The tinge of sweetness no doubt came from the raisins embedded in it. Thick melted toffee moisturized the pudding with a generous scoop of honeycomb ice-cream topping over it. The mix of sweet and bitter made this dessert irresistible.
Also irresistible was Ziloufs' chai tea latte (£2.40). It was the first time I had come across one with a anise seed planted at the surface; I’m more used to using it to season my duck dishes. It was an interesting addition though for it added quite a bit of depth to the already spicy thick and creamy tea.
Ziloufs turned out to be much better than we anticipated. Reasonably priced dish, great ambience and excellent service. If only it has a proper lunch menu. Apparently, dinner starts at 5pm and Ziloufs offers a two course dinner for £16. A good reason to return I suppose.
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