Now, I am by no means a vegetarian. I am in fact quite the carnivore. But hand on heart, this is my favourite place to get a curry. I would go veggie at the drop of a hat if all veggie food tasted as good as this!
Rani's offers an à la carte menu, a buffet (but only on certain days of the week, please refer to their website) and takeway. In all my years of going there, I have only ever tried their buffet and I seriously recommend it. Curry wise, I'm not the most adventurous of people and no matter where I go, I always order the same dish. Rani's buffet is an excellent way of trying new things that I normally wouldn't have braved. The only possible criticism I can think of is the choice. If you like a buffet that has something different every time you go, then Rani's probably isn't for you. They tend to have the same dishes every time we visit. But for me, this is no bad thing. The flavours and textures of these dishes are incredible - my favourite being their paneer curry - so if I went and the paneer wasn't there, I would be disappointed. For me personally, their buffet selection can't be faulted.
Last night we all had three plates worth of food and we were more than satisfied. For our first plate, we had a selection from their table of starters. I really can't name what these were - some of the ingredients were a bit of a mystery. But there something with a fluffy, cake-like consistency which we were advised to pair with one of their home-made chutneys, root vegetables sprinkled with spices, an assortment of bhajees (potato, onion and cauliflower) and fresh pooris.
Main course wise, there was spiced paneer in a tomato sauce, banana curry, Kenyan aubergine and potato curry with ground peanuts and a Kenyan green bean and broad bean curry, amongst others.
I was a bit sceptical about banana curry, but it was actually really tasty! The textures of the aubergine dish are beautiful - fluffy potato with flavoursome aubergine and a lovely crunch from the peanuts. My favourite dish by far is still the Murcha Paneer. Bright red in colour, it has quite the spice and spice is something I normally can't handle. But as this is a flavoursome spice rather than a blow-your-mouth-off kind of spice, I can actually go back for numerous servings.
The drinks menu is pretty standard. Soft drinks, alcoholic drinks and their popular Lassi. They offer massive pitchers of fruit juice which at £6 is great value for money when you take into account what a glass of fruit juice will normally cost you! With a choice of passion fruit, apple, orange, mango, pineapple, cranberry and many others, there's something for everyone.
Being a family run business, there is a lovely homely feel to the restaurant which is why we like to go eat in rather than get takeaway. The interior is mostly decorated in red and gold with drapes, curtains and arches leading into the adjoining rooms. Even when they are at capacity, it never feels too noisy or too packed. There is very calming music piped throughout the restaurant so you can't help but feel relaxed. One of the tracks last night sounded like the start to Avicii's Wake Me Up which was amusing. Then there was a sitar and we knew it wasn't Avicii!
The staff here are all very friendly and make you feel welcome. We have never had any complaints.
For the à la carte menu, I feel that most of the main dishes are the typical sort of price you would pay anywhere else. The starters however feel a little pricier. I have never paid £4.50 for bhajees anywhere else. But I guess it depends how big the bhajees are from the à la carte menu. Or how many you get. The buffet is about £16 per head, I believe. This does feel quite expensive to me - bearing in mind how many main course dishes are actually on offer. Last night x5 buffets plus drinks came to just shy of £100 which felt like a lot. If the buffet was a few pounds cheaper per person, then we'd be able to go eat there more often rather than just on special occasions.
Rani's is a hidden gem that doesn't have nearly enough exposure, which is why I wanted to write this review to spread awareness. Eat here for friendly staff, a chilled atmosphere and very tasty textures and combinations of ingredients that you may not normally try - banana curry anyone?
A few years back they faced being closed down due to extortionate rent prices and I remember there being a petition to keep them open. We have always fully supported them, and judging by them still being there today and their growth (they have since expanded into the shop unit next door), it seems we weren't the only happy customers raving about them and their food. Give them a try. Their menu can be found via their website (link provided below).
Rani Restaurant ,
7 Long Lane, Finchley, London, N3 2PR.
7 Long Lane, Finchley, London, N3 2PR.
Tel : 0208 349 4386/2636