Shiraz: it’s a wine, an ancient city in Iran, and a wonderful restaurant in Grand Rapids. The owner is Iranian (Persian) and the food is as unique to Grand Rapids as is the ambiance.
The exterior will not grab your attention but the interior certainly will. It’s lovely with dark wood and carpeting, some Iranian decor (faux and real), a small bar, a separate banquet room, and a small outdoor patio.
There is a lunch (petite) menu available until 2:30 but luckily for us, our server brought us the full menu by mistake. All of the items were available for lunch, which we wouldn’t have known.
We chose Persian Shrimp Cocktail for an appetizer. Grilled and chilled, the jumbo shrimp were pomegranate-glazed and came with a delicious mint, yogurt sauce. Pomegranates, mint, and yogurt are staples of Iranian cooking and this was a fine starter.
Ordering from the dinner menu, everything was ala carte. Our server ably and expertly suggested soup and salad and we couldn’t resist. The soup offering is seasonal only and therefore not described on the menu; we loved the seasonality and the soup. It was a wonderful mung bean based soup that included kidney beans, mint, and onion.
All of the salads sounded interesting but we decided to share a Shirazi. Chopped cucumbers, tomatoes, red onions, and parsley came marinated in olive oil, lime juice, and mint, and it was an exquisite limey, minty treat.
From the entrees, one of us ordered Barg and the other ordered Sultani, and here are the menu descriptions:
Barg: (filet mignon Persian-style) $20.00
A juicy skewer of marinated tenderloin, charbroiled to perfection.
Koubideh: (seasoned ground kabob) $14.00
Two juicy strips of our house-blended beef and lamb.
Sultani: (Barg and one Koubideh) $22.00
Combination of charbroiled filet mignon and a strip of seasoned ground beef/lamb.
We assumed that the Sultani would be smaller portions of the previous two menu items but to our surprise, the Sultani was a replica of the Barg but with the addition of a strip of beef/lamb described in Koubideh. For two dollars more, please order the Sultani.
Both meat strips were tender and delicious. Persian food is flavorful but not spicy or hot and these dishes were beautifully prepared and mouth-watering delectable. Both were accompanied by saffron-topped basmati rice, grilled tomatoes, onions, green peppers, and a huge chunk of garlic.
We’re both fans of garlic but not straight up. We mashed a little up to stir into the rice but otherwise left it alone. The other vegetables were a perfect accompaniment but we were a little skeptical about the saffron. It’s incredibly expensive and frequently imitated but a staff member assured us it was the real deal, imported from Iran.
The single thing we objected to most about our dining experience was the restaurant music. It played from someone’s iPod that held cheesy love-songs, and repeated. It was in sharp contrast to the tasteful decor and upscale atmosphere. On a previous visit for dinner, a classical guitarist was playing, and on their website, there is gorgeous music by an Iranian violinist, Bijan Mortazavi. A change-up for lunch would be wonderful.
The lunch menu is much more reasonably priced - you just have to endure the music. So don’t let the aforementioned prices scare you off. Experience delightful Persian cuisine in this unique setting. You may "like" them on Facebook. Ba’adan mibinamet!