Tel: +44 (0)20 8348 9103
Address: 6 Topsfield Parade, Tottenham Lane, Crouch End, London N8 8PR
Cuisine Type: north African
nearest tube station Finsbury Park (VICTORIA, PICCADILLY)

Most people wouldn’t consider a special trip to Crouch End for an evening out, let alone an exotic – and surprisingly exquisite – dining experience. Now they should.

Upon entering Kismet, you immediately feel as if you have been transported to North Africa. Lush fabrics, creative lighting, and the hum of soft drumbeats easily lull you into relaxation. The restaurant’s small space also adds to the intimate feel.

One can’t help but notice the special touches demonstrating Kismet’s keen attention to detail: the large, colourful sun and moon designs on the main wall to help protect from evil spirits; the intriguing use of lighting to make you feel like you are sitting under the stars; the silks and satins draped over the authentic ceremonial tent area.

We began with a variety of well-proportioned and reasonably priced starters (£3-6) to accompany our somewhat unadventurous, yet satisfying, selection of house wine and Moroccan beer (both around £3 per glass). The Harira soup – traditionally eaten in Morocco during the Muslim Ramadan fasting period – is made up of diced lamb, chick peas and other vegetables, and was wonderfully spicy, yet balanced. Bissara, an authentic broad bean soup, was creamy and mild. Spicy Merguez sausages rounded out phase one of our gastronomic exploration.

As expected, the menu was chock full of lamb and other meat dishes. The lamb couscous, lamb shank with root vegetables, was delectable. The unbelievably tender lamb tagine – Kismet’s most popular dish – was an aromatic blend of savoury and sweet, served with its prunes and almonds still simmering.

Kismet also offers some very tasty seafood dishes as well, such as grilled monkfish and tuna steak. The flawlessly prepared monkfish is served over a thick bed of tomato-based lentils, and is highly recommended. Costs for main dishes range from £10-15.

Dessert was relatively conservative, as evident by the ubiquitous baklava and chocolate mousse options (£3-5). That said, we did enjoy the ginger crème brulee, which had just the right amount of tanginess to end our rich and luxurious meal.

Smoking is allowed at every table in this diminutive space. When we visited, diners were fortunately being very considerate, as one smoker would likely overpower the entire room.

Overall, service was friendly and accommodating, and prices were an excellent value for three courses and a few glasses of wine. Reservations are strongly recommended, particularly on the weekend, as Kismet is seemingly – and understandably – always bustling!

– Sue Couter, 3/2003