The Chowhound dinner Saturday at Alborz was delightful. I don't think I would have ever found Alborz and properly ordered on my own. Thanks Fatemah!!
The restaurant is on Van Ness at Sutter. It has a nice, tasteful interior, white tableclothes; comfy seats. It never got completely full while we were there but it did a brisk business. They were short one waiter so service was a little slow.
Fatemah brought a bottle of red wine and Celery brought a bottle of white, both went well with dinner ($7 corkage). I forgot to look at the bottle so that's all I can tell you except that Fatemah got hers at the wine shop by Eos and Boulange de Cole - the owners are Persian and they guided her choice.
Now to the food....
The table was stocked with warm lavash bread and plates with butter, feta, onion and herbs such as basil, parsley, mint, cilantro. The idea is that you butter the bread and add feta, onion and whatever herbs you choose, then roll the bread up and have a snack while you decide what to order.
For appetizers we had:
Kashk Bodemjan - roasted eggplant with fried onion, garlic, mint & yogurt sauce ($6.5). Quite tasty. We piled it on the warm lavash;
Tah Dig - crispy rice one of several kinds of stew ladled on top($6.5). Really rich. It was a thin layer of rice that was, well, crispy topped with thick, saucy stew that had some deep red firm beans in it. You had to break the rice in pieces to get your serving (physical action was sort of like breaking up peanut brittle).
For main course we had big piles of fragrent basmati rice with:
Alborz plate - the kabob combination plate that had one skewer each of filet mignon, chicken breast, ground beef ($32). It was a huge plate. It sounds weird but the filet was almost boring in comparison the the beautifully marinated chicken breast (lime, saffron & yogurt marinade) and the spicy ground beef. Fatemah showed us how to make a rice mound, break the meat into bite-size pieces with our spoons, put it on top of the rice and shake a spoonful of sumac over the top. yum. This dish is supposed to be for two people but with all the other dishes we ordered it was just fine to share with 6 people.
Fesenjoon - dry roasted crushed walnut cooked in pomegranate sauce over chicken ($13). The sauce was lovely, it had a very condensed, sweet, rich flavor and the chicken was so tender it was falling apart. The only way I would order this dish in the future is if I am there with more than four people. It's so intense and almost dessert-like, I could only eat a very small portion of it.
Zereshk Polo with Chicken Kabob - steamed basmati rich with chicken, barberries and saffron ($15). This was the same moist, tasty chicken as above. The dried barbarries were sauteed in butter and sugar, then mixed in with the rice. It was the first time I have ever had barberries. They're small and tart - they balanced well in the butter-rich rice.
We were going to have Bastani for dessert but they didn't have it. Fatemah explain that Bastani is Persian ice cream, similar to Bombay on Valencia - rose water scented, cardamon, etc. Boo-hoo! She did not recommend having any of their other desserts so we had tea which was a nice ending to a very filling dinner. She showed us how us put the super-dense sugar cubes in our mouths and suck tea through the sugar.
It was a great introduction to authentic Persian cuisine. Considering how nice Alborz is and how full I was, I was surprised the bill came to only $22 a person.