Reyhana: a low-key triumph on Malden Road

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Who said dining out has to cost a fortune? The chicken here is some of the tastiest in NW5


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A skewer of chicken fillet marinated in yoghurt and saffron for 24 hours.
A skewer of chicken fillet marinated in yoghurt and saffron for 24 hours.
Despite the opening last year of aspirational food pub the Gipsy Queen, Malden Road is still not exactly a restaurant hotspot. Hell, no, in fact.

Down opposite the Fiddler’s Elbow pub, the outlet at number 20 has often proved an exception to the rule, from its incarnation as the reliable Spice and Rice to the less dazzling Baran. It reopened in late 2014 as Persian joint Reyhana, named after the owner’s daughter.

Now the interior has a tiled floor, and those high-backed plether chairs that are ubiquitous outside London. A corner TV blasts out the latest news, but on each visit we’ve tried to ignore the screen and concentrate instead on a menu that’s well-priced, with lunch prices just £4-5. In the evening it’s still good value, about £8 a main – for much larger plates.

Simple room.
Simple room, high-backed chairs.

The quality of cooking is truly impressive: flat bread is warm, crisp and light, with an accompanying hummus less memorable than a delicious mirza ghasemi, all smoky aubergine, tomatoes and garlic.

But it’s the mains that are hard to beat: Khoresht e-gheimeh badenjan, a lamb stew with split yellow peas and dried limes, is cooked in a tomato sauce, and topped with sauteed aubergine: fragrant, zesty and meaty, a real winter comfort classic.

Our tip, though? A skewer of chicken fillet marinated in yoghurt and saffron for 24 hours, as meltingly tender as any you’ll find in the postcode – and more so than the breast at shiny chain Bird on Chalk Farm Road just five minutes’ stroll away. The side-salad may be a little perfunctory, but the rice is fluffily moreish and at £8 it’s quite a monster: you may not even finish the dish.

It’s a shame they don’t allow BYO – we’re not quite sure why as it would certainly increase footfall, as at popular nearby joints like Bintang and Anima e Cuore. But it’s cheap and tasty nonetheless. Who said dining out in London has to cost a fortune?

This review was updated on 24th March 2016 after two new visits this year

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Reyhana is at 20 Malden Road NW5, open midday till 10:30pm

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  • Sam Collins (@1SamC)

    Difficult site to prosper, but i’ll definitely head down to give them a try. Often pondered how the restaurants on the site survive from the top deck of a 24.

    Your last paragraph poses the question though – do you need a license to BYO?

  • Suzanne

    At the restaurant now, no BYO apparently!!

  • adam

    Was at reyhana today was an amazing atmosphere, the best food i have ever tryed i ordered the momtaz, 1 skewer of kabab and 1 skewer of chicken fillet with salad on the side.
    very big portion luckley i was hungry enough i recommend for everyone to give it a try

  • Mary

    Reyhana Restaurant had the best persian food i have tasted in a very long time! The atmosphere is great.. The staff is great and most importantly the food is fresh and tasty and loved every bit of it… Definitly will be coming back and reccomend it to everyone!!

  • Majm

    This restaurant is one hidden gem at the heart of camden borough and kentish town. The rice is like no other and the kebab selection is simply the best. My favorite dish is the lamb pieces ( chenjeh ) served with rice and complimentary salad in an amazing massive dish ,well presented tasty with the smell that can only make u fall in love with the meal more and more. The zereshk polo and the baghali polo ( weekend special) hits the spot every time and the warm welcoming atmosphere and kind staff allows u to enjoy your time at the restaurant. Definatley recommend it to everyone