From the beautiful nation of Afghanistan, comes Ariana, a traditional Afghan eatery that does well to differentiate itself amongst Mile End’s hubbub of grills and takeaways.
Note: All the meat here is halal.
I’ve only been here on one occasion, where I ordered a Qabuli Pilau. This is a traditional Afghani dish which consists of rice cooked in the juices of a steamed lamb shank, along with fried carrots, raisins, almonds and pistachios. A grenade of potential flavours and textures. Ariana’s incarnation was absolutely mammoth in size, and the lamb shank came buried under a mountain of rice. I was still in the last couple of weeks of my cutting phase for the year when I visited, which meant I spent most of the meal mentally torn between maintaining a low carb diet and consuming a tonne of delicious pilau rice. With a tear in my eye, I whispered “Cheat day…”. (The same thing I whisper every other day).
The rice was wonderfully warm, soft and moist, and the glazed carrots and raisins added lovely bursts of sweetness. When I eventually called an Archaeological team to excavate the lamb shank out from the rice, I found it to be quite moist and tender – at least, on the outside. Unfortunately the juices seemed to have been cooked out of the centre of the shank, rendering it a little dry. A little disappointing but nonetheless, the accompanying flavours and moisture in the rice ensured it wasn’t unbearable. I also ordered some chicken wings, which were very soft and tender.
Overall, it was a satisfying (and certainly filling) meal with a very pleasant combination of flavours. Everything in the dish was in balance and harmony, with a range of soft textures that really complemented each other.
Value for Money: 3.5/5
Most of the dishes are under £15 here and the portions seem to be very large. I’m ashamed to admit that I packed my leftovers home because I couldn’t finish it in one go. But that’s in the past now, there’s no need to focus on prior sins.
Staff are very friendly and welcoming here, and more than happy to cater to your needs.
Ariana is located five to ten minutes away from Mile End Station, and isn’t too hard to get to at all. The venue is fairly large and you can probably host a reasonable sized get-together there. The restaurant hosts a wooden-panelled decor which gives the place a nice, rustic quality, and the rear-entrance is connected to Mile End Park. Whilst not the most scenic of parks, it’s still a nice feature to have. Who doesn’t love seeing drunkards roaming around whilst dining al-fresco? (Kidding).
The atmosphere at Ariana seemed to be quite relaxed and peaceful – perhaps because the restaurant was rather empty when I visited. (Come to think of it, a lot of places are rather empty when I visit. I can only assume people sense my dark, hungry soul approaching and evacuate).
Overall, Ariana provides a pleasant meal for a reasonable price, and offers a great taste of Afghani cuisine.
Address: 2 Midlothian Rd, London E3 4SE
Telephone: 0208 981 8266