Le Rif: Moroccan in Finsbury Park

Le Rif is one of a number of restaurants on the Seven Sisters Road that offers foreign cuisine, reflecting the cosmopolitan make-up of the area.

The neighbourhood itself isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing – if you go out onto the patio area to take your food, you’ll be left with the view of a council estate and listening to traffic going past on a major road. Inside is much more accommodating. The walls are lined with pictures of typical Moroccan scenes and carpets, which can be bought if the mood happens to take you.

The restaurant is very popular with those of North African origin and you can expect to hear a lot of Arabic as well as French spoken. It also gets very busy in the evening, providing an intimate atmosphere. There is a variety of music played, ranging from Lebanese to rai, a particular type of Moroccan music.

The meals are changed on a daily basis but there are some things that you can bank on seeing on display. Perennial favourites are chicken with olives and lamb tagine, although there are always a few vegetarian dishes to choose from. Each dish is served with the choice of couscous or rice and it is also possible to add a salad side dish.

Given that each dish only costs £4 it might be expected that a small portion is provided. Not so. The large dishes that are served in clay plates, kept warm with a ceramic lid, are extremely filling. The chicken with olives is exquisite with juicy chicken supplemented by additional vegetables. The only complaint is that there could be more olives supplied as their bitter taste goes very well with the chicken. The lamb with prunes is less appetising, with the combination of lamb and fruit jarring, rather than complementing, one another. The lamb is also quite tough and could be better cooked.

There is a limited choice of desserts with only cheesecakes and tarts available. That said, both the coffee cheesecake and the strawberry tart are delicate and well worth a try. That is if there is any room left in your stomach after the main course.

There are no alcoholic drinks served in the restaurant but there are plenty of other choices to go with the meal. Particularly interesting of note are the smoothies made fresh each day. Both the mango and the avocado concoctions are refreshing, if a little thick. This being a Moroccan restaurant, teas are a speciality, and they have many varieties which provide an excellent end to the meal.

Although not placed in the most enticing of areas, this is a restaurant that offers splendid food at a price that is scarcely believable. It is conceivable that you could have a two course meal with a couple of drinks and still walk away with a change from a £10 note. How many places in London can that be said of?

Le Rif
172 Seven Sisters Road
Finsbury Park
N7 7PX

Tel: 020 7263 1891

Image by Ewan M courtesy of Flickr

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1 Response

  1. Rae

    Never quite understood why anyone would still use a term like “foreign cuisine” when so much of what we eat in the UK and might regard as ‘British’, not to mention the ingredients, has come from somewhere else.

    Le Rif is wonderful! I can certainly recommend both the spinach and lentil dishes, with the couscous. Served in a tagine that’s gently heated through in a microwave,like a marriage of past and present!

    The mint tea is heaven in a glass! My teapot was crammed with fresh mint that complimented the smokiness of the china tea to perfection.

    My meal at Le Rif, including tea, came to, I think, £5.50 in total (five years since the review was written). The service was swift, allowing plenty of time to relax and savour the food while soaking up the warm, friendly atmosphere.

    Yes, there’s a road outside, and council houses and trees opposite. It’s London for God’s sake. Nobody would expect to be looking out at a Marrakech souk.

    Le Rif is just a 5 minute walk from Finsbury Park station. What are you waiting for?

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