© Jonathan Perugia
Time Out rating:
Time Out says
Posted: Wed Sep 25 2013
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.
Ariana II 241 Kilburn High Road
- Venue phone:
020 3490 6709
- Venue website:
- Opening hours:
Meals served noon-11pm daily
Tube: Kilburn tube or Brondesbury rail
Main courses £6-£12. Set meal £13.37 per person (minimum 2) 3 courses. Unlicensed. Corkage no charge
- 241 Kilburn High Road
- 020 3490 6709
- 241 Kilburn High Road
- Ariana II
Average User Rating
4.3 / 5
- 5 star:30
- 4 star:6
- 3 star:1
- 2 star:4
- 1 star:2
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 :-)
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.
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!
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!
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 .
Absolutely worth recommending Afghan restaurant! Food was very tasty with amazing dessert selection for reasonable price.
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.
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!
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.
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!
Went to Tricycle Cinema and found Ariana by accident. Great discovery. Lovely food, Friendly Service, Tremendous Price. What else do you need? We're off to visit their Manhattan branch ...
SImply fantastic, value for money and delicious food. We asked our waiter to recommend what we should try and were not dissapointed. The owner then came over and apologized for not winning the cheap eats category this year! Judging on the food and service they are well worthy of all the accolades. Will be heading back there soon!
Ariana II is amazing!!! Great value and really friendly staff. Restuarant had a 20-somethings vibe the night we went. The set course is an easy choice as it gives you a variety accross the board - the 2 person set could feed 3 easily. Defo go back there again.
It was love at first bite in my case. With a family that had got fed up with eating Xmas dinner left-overs, we decided to have an Afghan dinner last night, and everyone loved it. Exceptionally good food - I have had Afghan food, but the aushak (the Afghan ravioli) were exceptional - and great service. I'll be back - and the prices are more than reasonable: In spite of trying out most of the menu we ended up paying only just over 30 pounds (plus tips, of course). It is Bring Your Own Drink, but that is just one more plus
What resturant is opened on Xmas? Ariana2 my favourite Place ! On Xmas and you wouldn't believe how much fun its to talk about make up and shopping with the two lovely waitresses!! They are open NEW YEAR ASWELL
Magnificant! The best service, she was so friendly, we even got her name :). The food was nothing but beutiful and tasted like mwah! the portions were large and you will certainly get full! Must try if you visit london.
Excellent. Amazing value, great service, exciting and tasty food. Only negative - it was very hot in the restaurant!
spicy okra was fantastic. so was aushak. mantu was divine. overall excellent. will be back for more.
The other half and I went last night and it was an utter delight! The staff were all charming and the food was delicious. The aushak was just divine and it's all so affordable. Ariana II has just shot to the top of my recommended restaurants but as it's so unassuming from the outside I probably wouldn't have gone in if not for this review.
Went last night with a friend, fantastic food (we had Kabuli Palow - try it!), really friendly service and terrific value - Time Out claims this is not a "destination restaurant" - I live in E1 and I'll be going back to NW6 soon and with one purpose!!!
It was Konrad's birthday and I took him there as a surprise. Food was fantastic and staff extremely helpful and nice. Dumplings for starter were my favourite, as well as rice with raisins and pistachios. Our lamb was cooked to perfection (Kabuli Palow). At the end they asked if I'd like a dessert with a candle which was a really nice gesture. And our waitress Samira also sung Happy Birthday to Konrad. Amazing evening. We'll return with friends.
Myself and my girlfriend have just eaten here and it was very very good. We had the menu for two (£25) which included two starters, two mains, a dessert and two drinks. All of the food was exceptionally good and the staff were all really friendly. We've had the pleasure of eating out at many London restaurants, high brow and low brow, and in terms of service and food this is now right up there as one of the best meals we've had in town. We look forward to our next visit!!
The food couldn't have been better - delicious and a vast quantiity. The waitress took a personal interest and could not be faulted. I had lunch there, and for £8.00 which included sparkling water and a coffee with cardomen, it was a real bargain. I hope to return again and again.
Amazing amazing food. I would suggest talking to the waitress and getting her recommendations - she was spot on and everything we ordered was delicious. I had been once before and picked dishes myself and was a little underwhelmed as clearly I had no idea what I was doing. BYO is a total bonus too.
Excellent! We - a party of four - knew nothing about this type of food and so let the waitress choose for us. We couldn't have been happier with her selection. Aushak as well as Mantu were wonderful, and so were a lamb and a prawn dish. The service was attentive and helpful all round, and the corkscrew worked, too. Really good value for money - we'll be back soon.
We went there, very bad service, we had to wait more than half an hour to be served, then the they brought wrong food, they took it back the food was very cold and then the staff was very rude. I would never go there again.
When I read the review below (tom's) I thought I wasn't on the right section. I truly don't know why any one would write bad reviews about his place ...oh well, any one except competitors perhaps! I totally agree with Timeout and with the other reviewers. My boyfriend and I moved to Kilburn last year. On our mission to find a local 'favourite' restaurant we started trying all the cafes and restaurant of Kilburn High Road. The search was over when we arrived at Ariana II. Very rare to find hidden gems so unpretentious like this around London! The food is simply delicious: I had Kabuli chicken and by boyfriend the lamb. The portion are huge and the meat is so fresh it melts in mouth. We also had delicious starters -aushak and hummus- accompanied by naan (the Afghan bread) and the typical yogurt drink I can't remember the name of (sorry). The service is excellent, the two people working there are very friendly, kind and attentive. We have now been there almost every week and never been disappointed once. Oh, and the prices are very low for the quality of the food!
Arrived in a party of 4 on Sunday evening, the service was very prompt and friendly. We were unfamiliar with the menu so we opted for a meal for 4. Our waitress was very attentive and picked the dishes for us which were all Afghan The food was excellent and well worth the price, £50 for 4 highly recommended.
I've tried afghan food alot but arianas food Is just breathe taking . The waitress and the boss both serived us with kindness and respect .
Went there last night and was confused about what to expect - Timeout says it is great, but user comments were very mixed. Pleased to report that Timeout was right! Food was superb and very well priced. They don't have a alcohol license, but you are more than welcome to take your own wine. Food was very prompt and there was a real difference in taste.We weren't hurried and had a very relaxed, tasty meal which had a phenomenally fresh taste. Would recommend!!
Arrived with a party of 6 on a Saturday evening at the time for which I'd booked a table 4 days earlier, but no table. We had a 20 minute wait in a basement before being shown to our table, then a 25 minute foodless wait till someone came to take our order. Half way through the waiter (?boss) suddenly said it would be better if we allowed him to make a selection of starters and main courses for us, and any we didn't like would be on the house. We agreed. Starters trickled in over the next 45 minutes in the shape of a plate of humous and 3 nan breads. So, no selection and not much food for six by now ravenous people. Finally, 11/2 hours after we arrived, the mains came. They were fine, but were all identical, so again no chance of tasting a range of their dishes. The bill did come quickly, but no sign of anything on the house! The food was good, without being sensational, and the staff were friendly enough, but the service seemed on the verge of collapse much of the time. On the basis that our experience could have been atypical I might try it again, but mid week and with a smaller party.
I'd like to give it more than 3 and I have no doubt it has the potential once it learns to cope with the mad rush that this great review has caused. The starters were great - we opted for the leek dumplings as per the TO recommendation, also the spinach fried dumplings and a few options of the pastry turnovers they had recommended. Just like Trevor who reviewed a week or more ago, the lovely chap was dead keen to sort out our mains. I managed to get the lamb shank dish but my 3 other diners had the mixed grill. We only agreed to it as we thought he was selecting a popular chicken, lamb and ground lamb dish and we would all share. But sadly they were all the same and all too much. Of course this kind of dish is available anywhere and it was definitely not a winning dish that would give you any reason to return. I would imagine all the starters are great but you could certainly assume that every main will cover 2 people. They are huge. I will go back but I will insist I order :-) The place was packed but the team were trying their best and the service was more than fine.
Went here on Friday, based on Time Out's review - wasn't disappointed! The food was AMAZING. Gorgeous starters, including cheese and spinach samosas, followed by a lovely steamed dumpling concoction for main. My boyfriend got a lamb shank - it was huge! No worries about small portions here. Some of the best food I've eaten for years, hand's down. The only gripe was the waitress was a little flustered, and delivered the wrong food initially, followed by the wrong card for payment! But the staff couldn't have been friendlier, in particular the waiter, especially as they were packed out that evening. Great food, great price! Will definitely be back.
Really disappointing. After reading the glowing review above i expected something a bit special. But no, it was distinctly average. The starters were ok, ravioli and the mashed aubergine tasted good, but the main course was a let down. The over-enthusiastic, almost overbearing owner insisted on ordering the mains for us. Big mistake. We all got a big plate of grilled meat with salad, including one of those chewy reconstituted lamb kebab things you find in supermarkets like Iceland. Oh and the salad was drizzled with thousand island dressing(!). Really not special enough to make the trek up to Kilburn. Theres much better Middle Eastern to be found in town, like Edgware Road.