Despite the lively chatters, clinks and chirps in two of the three dining rooms at Lala Rokh (the third wasn't filled), the atmosphere was fairly calm and easeful. The dining rooms were comfortable and elegant, with charming framed prints depicting colonial impressions of the middle east spaced across the walls painted an orange-pink that's as soft as grapefruit. Genteel, but not as stuffy as the expensive Beacon Hill address might suggest.
A chilled yogurt drink spiced with dried mint (doogh) is lovely, the mint imparting a lightness on one hand and a herby savoury angle on another.
Kashk-E-Bademjan is eggplant puree, and perhaps after some roasting, slightly smoky. Tomatoes are the back seat driver here, and come across as a tad too assertive. Soft caramelized shallots run through the puree like earthy, fragrant ropes, while a ring of yogurt topped off this appetizer.
Coriander and other dark spices were quite well tuned in the Ghormeh Sabzi, a lamb stew with spinach and chickpeas. Not life-changing by any means, but competently made. The fine basmati rice was dry enough that the grains were individually articulated, and rady to soak in the stewy liquids.
In the fereni, a custard or pudding dessert made from rice powder, the rose syrup blossomed. I also enjoyed the slivers of almond, hard against the soft custard that yielded with a slight but not unpleasant graininess. The garnish of sliced kiwi and strawberries were nice but extraneous, never really fitting in with the rice custard.
Satisfying on the whole, but nothing life changing. Molana in Watertown offers a more down-to-earth and hearty experience at a lower price.
I might return to sample their fesenjoon, which I haven't yet seen elsewhere in the Boston area (any sightings anyone?). The only thing that kept me from ordering it his time was that Lala Rokh's version used duck instead of the standard chicken that I've gotten used to. Maybe when a craving lurches next time.
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