Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Tuesday, 5/18/10 - Shiraz

Date: 5/18/10
Restaurant: Shiraz
Location: 4230 McCullough Ave, on the same Roundabout as Ciao Lavanderia and Bistro Vatel
Executive Chef: Unknown

Well, what an adventure. The closest I've ever come to Persian/Iranian cuisine was when my International Class created a sort of catch-all Middle Eastern meal one day. The closest Tavis has ever come was hearing about when his wife created a Middle Eastern meal in her class. Needless to say, this was a very new experience for us, with lots of unfamiliar flavor combinations to play with. How fun!

The outside of Shiraz, as nondescript as it comes. Looking at this building, you would never guess the depth of rich and exotic flavors to be had inside! Dinner starts at 5pm; we arrived at 6pm and were one of three couples that decided to stop by at the same time. The food took a very reasonable time to come out considering we all ordered within minutes of each other and there was only one waitress and presumably a short-staffed kitchen as well.

A glance around the more luxuriously-decorated interior.

We were offered a wine list but after last Friday's New World Wine & Food Festival, we passed on the alcohol. Still, it's there if you want it!

The menu has familiar enough proteins (beef, lamb, duck, chicken and one or two vegetarian entrees) served in unfamiliar (to us) sauces. Lots of fruits and spices and yogurt.

As we waited for our appetizer, we were brought this plate of feta and herbs (basil, mint and parsley) with pocketless pita to warm up our palate. It could've been pulled right out of the garden my mom planted and I promptly killed. This dish is also apparently good for "prosperity and reminder against greed." I wonder if it's hard to resist being greedy when one is prosperous.

Ohhh our beautiful appetizer, some sort of kofta. Think insanely juicy burger kebabs with a tangy sauce and greens. My only complaint was that there wasn't more of it; it was the only thing I might consider overpriced on the menu, at $8 for the two little skewers plus garnishes. Still, as savory and gobble-able as it was, I'm sure it'll remain a favorite in trips to come.

My entree, fesenjan, which while it looks suspiciously like carne guisada is in fact chicken in a walnut and pomegranate sauce. Alongside is incredibly fragrant rice that sopped up the amazingly sweet, complex, rich sauce. This could almost satisfy one's dessert craving. Maybe not my mom's dessert craving. But someone else's. It was hearty enough that I enjoyed excellent leftovers today.

Tavis's entree, tachin, or an Iranian chicken and rice casserole. Saffron is hard to describe if you aren't familiar with the flavor profile; all I know is I'm just wild about saffron. This was a really lovely, savory, fragrant meal.

Tavis enjoyed it quite a bit. I'm always a bit nervous when we try something that is so completely out of our norm--I mean, Tavis is cultured, but moderately so. Not cultured like a gay bacteria. So for him to say "I want to come back here and eat my way through this menu," I was most impressed and pleased.

We asked our excellent waitress Julie's recommendation for a dessert, as we'd heard very good things about them. She recommended faloodeh, so I took her advice. Plus it just sounds like fun times!

This is faloodeh. Think one part frozen lime slushy from Sonic, and one part rice noodles. Also rose water. It was very aromatic and exotic, would probably be refreshing sitting under a blazing sun along the ocean, but would never be something I'd crave.

Tavis ordered their cheesecake, which was rich and slightly floral, scented with cardamom and saffron. Quite enjoyable.

Tavis's glass of potent Turkish coffee.

Returnability: I think so! With all the intense flavors bellydancing in my mouth and a menu that seems to have quite a bit of versatility, all at a reasonable price and with excellent service, Shiraz is an excellent stepping-stone into Iranian cuisine. It was a lovely adventure and I'm very much enjoying my leftovers today.


ashley said...

hi megan! it is your dear friend Ashley! aw I miss your fantastic personality! I used to live in those "4-plexes" right there on Olmos dr. I would walk by Shiraz everyday and I never knew it was a persian restaurant! How dare I. Well I hope your summer has been great so far and i look forward to reading more of your posts. I am experiencing these places through Tavis and you and its awesome! One day I hope to do a tour as well.

Molly said...

I need to be better about commenting here!

I have to say, reading this blog kills me. Why can't you guys move to Ventura and review restaurants here so I can go out right away and eat at them?

I have to say, this one looks amazing. And if it passed the Tavis taste test, you know it's one everyone will like!