Ariana II

Restaurants , Afghan Kilburn
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 out of 5 stars
(77 user reviews)
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1/5
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2/5
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3/5
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4/5
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5/5
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Lucky Kilburn, having this modest Afghan spot for kebabs, curries and tasty regional specials – and a BYOB policy keeps down bills.

As well as being a darling of the neighbourhood, Ariana II (I is in New York, though there’s nothing Manhattan-esque here) attracts people from across London with its excellent cooking, budget prices and BYOB policy. The frontage is pretty indistinguishable from Kilburn High Road’s ranks of kebab shops; inside is a small, plain dining room with a few Afghan portraits on the walls (there’s more room in the basement). But you can be certain of a sunny welcome and swift service.

The menu reflects the multiple influences on Afghan food – from Arab lands, the Indian subcontinent and further afield in Asia. These show up in dumplings, tikkas and kebabs, but the cuisine has a unique slant too. Plump, moreish leek-filled aushak ravioli topped with ground meat and yoghurt, and warmly spiced fried pumpkin turnovers (bolanee kadoo) with a side of fiery chakni relish (also available to buy by the bottle) make ideal starters.

For mains, kabuli palow (a melting, slow-cooked lamb shank buried in a mound of yellow rice dotted with pistachios and peppers) is a must. To drink, order minty yoghurt dough or freshly squeezed juices, and conclude with cardamom-flavoured tea and pastries. A treat.

 

Venue name: Ariana II
Contact:
Address: 241 Kilburn High Road
London
NW6 7JN
Opening hours: Meals served noon-11pm daily
Transport: Tube: Kilburn tube or Brondesbury rail
Price: Main courses £6-£12. Set meal £13.37 per person (minimum 2) 3 courses. Unlicensed. Corkage no charge
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Average User Rating

4.5 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:61
  • 4 star:9
  • 3 star:2
  • 2 star:5
  • 1 star:2
LiveReviews|77
NaN people listening
camron t
1 of 1 found helpful

We went in a group of 4, 3 vegetarians and 1 meat lover. All 4 of us enjoyed the food a lot! The vegetarian food was divine. Do not miss the Pumpkin dishes. 

All 4 of us shared Bolanee Kadoo and Bolanee Gandana for starters. They are divine, though Kadoo was slightly better. For main course. The 3 vegetarians shared 3 choice of 2 dishes (one each of the veggie options is what we got). The best were the pumpkin curry and Okra.
Our meat loving friend had the Kabuli Pillow and really liked it.
One of my friends ordered the Home-made Yoghurt drink and really didn't like it. But the tea was good. The stuff are friendly and ask the lady with the scarf she knows all the good dishes.

ian w
1 of 1 found helpful

Last night was my first time trying Afghan food, and I was so thoroughly satisfied having my first meal be at Ariana! My friends who have been here at least six times already took me there, insistent that I would love it. I am a big foodie and truly enjoy different and new food experiences. Everything we had was absolutely delicious! We tried these fantastic dumplings (ausha)  with minced lamb and a tomato-based sauce that I could have eaten all night! Kabuli palow was our main course, lamb shank served with a yellow rice iced with raisins and red bell peppers. Amazing! Then Te desserts came....I thought I had enough, but nope. We tried all their desserts...baklava (perfect), firnee (pudding...my favorite), and rasmalee (cottage cheese soaked in sweet milk....awesome)!


On top of that, the service was genuinely friendly and quick, the restaurant decor clean and charming, and there's NO CORK SERVICE CHARGE if you want to bring your own drinks!!! 

I am sad that I don't live in London and can't make Ariana II a regular place to dine, but I guess I can head to their NYC location! 

Go and support this fantastic family-run business!

Siobhain Ni Riain
1 of 1 found helpful

Certainly no welcome or swift service. We and people at several other tables asked for the door to be kept closed only to be told it was not necessary.. The filthy carpet may lend authenticity to a local cafe but made me worried in case they had the same standards in the kitchen. The toilet just about ok. The food was passable, it would have needed to be exceptional to compensate for the ambiance and atmosphere and that it certainly was not.

SP
1 of 1 found helpful

Having moved to the local area recently my husband and I went to Ariana for dinner last night. I don't usually write reviews but last night's experience made me feel like doing so and especially after having read some good reviews here. The food was good but the service was a big disappointment. We had booked in advance and were made to wait while they were making a table when half of the restaurant was empty. We requested if we could sit elsewhere and were pointed to sit on one of the ready tables. We sat down and waited and waited and waited for someone to come and give us the menus. The restaurant was half empty so no excuse of being very busy. After 10 minutes a waitress did come but only to give us the glasses to drink our champagne with no sign of menu. Many people came after us and were given the menus straightaway and had started ordering their food. After 15 minutes I went upto their bar counter and asked them to give us a menu. They apologised and came with the menus. A waitress came to take our order in 2 minutes and we said we were only ready to order the starters and had not yet decided the main course. The waitress said okay I will come back in 2 minutes to take your order then. We waited and waited and after 10 minutes I had to ask her to come to take our order. The restaurant was still half empty. The starters came pretty quickly and were nice. We finished our starters and had to wait for another 25 minutes before I managed to get hold of a waiter's attention to clear our table and get our main course. She had not bothered to check if we had been served with our main course. The main course arrived eventually and was quite nice as well. But the whole experience just spoiled the mood. It was Valentine's Day last night but the restaurant was half empty and they still couldn't manage it. We over heard the table behind us complaining about the wait too. It was a very poor management and appalling customer service. Some tables were being served on time and the waiters would go and ask them about the food etc but not our side of the restaurant. Inspite of all this no one came down to apologise. We had to ask someone again to get the bill and they got a dessert as an apology. Sadly a bit too late. But when we paid the bill by a credit card they charged us a surcharge for using a credit card. We were in this restaurant for 2 hours when we could have been done in an hour. Anyway good food but APPALLING SERVICE.

Ashleigh A
moderatorStaff Writer

We must have been unlucky on our visit to this often-praised Kilburn restaurant. I'd seen it up at the top of Time Out's Cheap Eats list so many times that it had been on my 'To Eat' list for years, but we found it tasty and affordable, but nothing to write home about. Service was 50/50 - a charming lady was very apologetic when our food took more than 25 minutes to arrive. The man who'd taken our order was surly, slow and unresponsive. I'd return if in the area but there are plenty of neighbourhood restaurants that meet these standards in London.

Louise H
Tastemaker

Oh my goodness the food here is so delicious- and so cheap! You can easily order 3 courses for under £20. I had pumpkin parcels to start, melt in the mouth lamb with sweetly spiced rice, and the pannacotta to finish. The service was friendly and I cannot wait to go back!

Sohère R
Tastemaker

The food was awesome! Loved the kebabs - in fact all the food was delicious and fresh. My only complaint is that we went on a Saturday night when it was extremely busy and had to wait about an hour to get our food. Probably better to go on a weeknight when it is less hectic. 

James C

It was amazing it really was
5star service
5star food
5star everything. GO ARIANA WHOOOAAAAAAA!!!'👌👍👏

Shahir

Honestly this is one of the best food places I have been to in London. The ambience and quality of their dishes, especially the meats are exceptional. Ariana II definitely comes in the top 3 in my list. The only caveat from me (and this is probably because of its exceptional reputation) is that it does get busy especially on a Friday and Saturday so my only advice is to book in advance :)

Omair A

This was my first time at Ariana ll with my cousin and my little nephew .

Ohh boy I can't tell you how great it was to be there. I've been to a lot of afghani restaurants and have never seen such a fantastic service especially the way they entertain my little nephew because he was not in a good mood but they made he's night a great night great lady.

The food was excellent thumbs up especially the mantu dish I loved it also the mix kabab was really good.

I recommend Ariana ll to every one its a fantastic restaurant good people special thanks to the lady and gentlemen keep it up.

saleh m

Does exactly what it promises on the menu, which is "Great Food. Time and Patience. Satisfaction".  All very true! If you have time for a leisurely meal, you will find delicious food here. I definitely left here satisfied and with a very happy tummy!I haven't had Afghan food in awhile (it's not easy to find around here) and this was well worth waiting for. The bread was delicious and the Hummus& Aushak was great too. I can't remember the name of the dish but we had lamb shank which was cooked to perfection it fell off the bone, the smell of the food is better than a £100 bottle of chanel .. ONE MORE THING I MUST SAY I HOPE MY MUM DOESN'T READ THIS BUT IT BEAT HER SUNDAY LAMB SHANK  .

this place is a beautiful family run business!! stuff are very kind and warm.

GS

I don't ever want to move from Kilburn simply because I love Ariana so much! Food is always amazing and it's so cheap. Service is really friendly and the staff remember you when you come back. Don't go expecting something slick and upmarket - its not, its great home-cooked food in friendly surroundings. Occassionally they get really slammed and it slows things down a bit but they are always genuinely apologetic if this happens and out the 20 or so times we have eaten either at the restaurant or had takeaway we have only had any issues on a couple of occasions. My recommendation is to ask the staff what to order as they always give great recommendations. We never really go for the grill stuff because all the slow cooked and stewed stuff is where its at, and definitely get lots of starters as they are amazing! Lastly, don't forget that if you eat in it is BYO meaning that on top of all the other stuff that is great about it, the bill is always tiny too! Don't change Ariana, you are perfect as you are :-)

Andrew M

Ariana II is the place to go if you are looking for some good Afghan food in London. And not just because it's one of only two such places in the city (as far as I know), but because the food is just damn good and excellent value! I found myself in Kilburn for the first time (I'm more an SE type of guy) and with a touch of trepidation made my way to Ariana II. This was the first stop on the "Alphabetical Round the World Eating Tour" that my friend Sharon S and I have decided to embark upon. The rules are simple: each month, we find a place that serves ethnic food from a country with the relevant letter. As this was the first month, we needed an "A" country and, since neither of us had ever had it, decided on Afghan cuisine. The restaurant is comfortably decorated with old Persian-style rugs and appears to be family owned. This was further reinforced by our waitress telling me it was a good thing her uncle wasn't there when I managed to spill my appetiser all over the rug. Apparently he's quite fond of his rugs and would have been very upset had he seen it covered in meat. Oops...I swear that plate flew off the table on its own! Anyways, more to the point, they were incredibly gracious despite my faux pas and brought another dish to replace the one I scattered to the four winds. I would need the menu in front of me to accurately spell the names of the dishes, so I'll settle for describing the food. Our appetisers comprised of a flat bread folded in half and fried with a meaty filling, some vegetable samosas, and a very large plate of hummus. The flat bread was delicious (and this is what I sent flying to the ground) although a bit hard to cut with a butter knife. The soft bread with a crispy buttery crust and rich meaty filling was something I could easily eat all day. The accompanying chilli vinaigrette was excellent as well and definitely brought the pain! The samosas were good but nothing special. I found that a lot of dishes were very similar to Indian foods but with a slightly different balance of spices. I imagine there was a lot of cross-pollination between the cultures back in the day. The hummus was excellent with a light delicate flavour and an excellent balance of chickpea, garlic, and acidic lemon. Too often one component dominates the other and I'd wager this was the best hummus I've had since leaving Saudi Arabia. Our mains were the house speciality (which essentially was a slow braised lamb shank covered in spiced rice) and a meat and chickpea dish. Each portion was enough for two and we were already approaching capacity with just the appetisers. Still, the tender lamb fell off the bone with each forkful and encouraged us to eat just a bit more. And how can you say no to tender meat? We did try the fermented yoghurt drink which reminded me of a plain lassi but was a bit plain and to thick to drink in large quantities. However, if spice isn't your thing, this would be a great balancer to the heat of the dishes. We had to waive off any attempt at dessert as our bellies were just about past the bursting point. The total bill came to £33 for the two of us making it by far one of the best value meals I've had in ages. Overall, I would be back soon if I didn't live about an hour bike ride away. Hell, once we get back to the "A"s, it may be hard to pick another place as I'll be wanting to try Ariana II again!

Adam k

Last night was my first time trying Afghan food, and I was so thoroughly satisfied having my first meal be at Ariana! My friends who have been here at least six times already took me there, insistent that I would love it. I am a big foodie and truly enjoy different and new food experiences. Everything we had was absolutely delicious! We tried these fantastic dumplings (ausha) with minced lamb and a tomato-based sauce that I could have eaten all night! Kabuli palow was our main course, lamb shank served with a yellow rice iced with raisins and red bell peppers. Amazing! Then Te desserts came....I thought I had enough, but nope. We tried all their desserts...baklava (perfect), firnee (pudding...my favorite), and rasmalee (cottage cheese soaked in sweet milk....awesome)! On top of that, the service was genuinely friendly and quick, the restaurant decor clean and charming, and there's NO CORK SERVICE CHARGE if you want to bring your own drinks!!! I am sad that I don't live in London and can't make Ariana II a regular place to dine, but I guess I can head to their NYC location! Go and support this fantastic family-run business!

Rabi.

food was ok but very little. no one should go for set meal not worth wrong plates used they did not change the starter plates we had to use it for main course as well bad management ( 5 star charge for 2 star service) toilets very dirty every things needs up grade inside out .

Harry

Kabuli palow. Kabuli palow. It's all about the kabuli palow at Ariana II.

Krysia

Absolutely worth recommending Afghan restaurant! Food was very tasty with amazing dessert selection for reasonable price.

Katy

I can't recommend this restaurant highly enough! I recently made a very large booking (40 people) for a birthday dinner and from the time of booking right up until the end of the meal I received friendly and helpful service from all of the staff. It's a family run restaurant and you're made to feel very welcome and at home. The food was delicious, the portions were generous, and the set menu catered to everyone in our group - people that like/dislike spicy food, meat lovers and veggies. There is a large room perfect for group bookings of any size, everyone in my group has plans to go back! It was also great value for money and BYO which was a bonus. 10/10!

Rich

Fantastic food, been here a few times now and everything tastes great, really cheap and it's BYOB!

Natalie Harris

After seeing the excellent reviews,we booked for dinner last night. Don't be put off by the location, the restaurant is cosy and the food is fantastic! Highly recommend the pumpkin dip for starters and the aubergine lamb was tender and delicious. 2 courses for 2 was £27! Will be going again soon.

Tara

This restaurant is brilliant! The food is out of the world and you wouldn't expect it to be so good as it is very reasonable priced!! I definitely recommend the service and the food and will always keep going there. Keep up the good work!! Sincerely outstanding food!

Ana & Dee

Fantastic food, lovely people & such good value - had a great time - Highly recommend!!!

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