It’s tough finding a tagine for under a tenner in this town. But at Le Rif, only one dish on the extensive menu costs more than £5.
This Finsbury Park eaterie isn’t remotely atmospheric, although there’s much to be said for a North African restaurant free of Arabic cliches. Instead, it caters to a local lunchtime crowd, many of whom eschew the North African offerings for sandwiches, jacket potatoes and spaghetti bolognaise. While such options seem bland compared to the Moroccan dishes the friendly owner can speedily conjure up, the starters were nothing special: a mild lentil, chickpea and rice soup; and houmous with olives and flatbread.
The mains were excellent, though. With a combination of spinach, olives, potato, aubergine and lemon, the fish tagine got that balance of sweet and savoury flavours absolutely correct. Couscous royale was every bit as successful, with tender, succulent chunks of chicken and lamb in a subtly spicy broth.
There’s only one way to end a great Moroccan meal – with pastries and a cup of fresh mint tea – although it does feel a little surreal to pour tea from a beautiful brass pot in a Finsbury Park caff.