The last time I was near Kierland Common in North Scottsdale, I was attempting to enjoy a gourmet burger at some upstart place near Scottsdale and Greenway Roads. Sadly, all I took away from that meal was several months of dreams of being chased by a giant red chair in the shape of hand. It wasn’t pretty. But I wasn’t going to let something like that stop me from trying to find a place in North Scottsdale that had good food.
I had heard from various acquaintances that there was a Persian restaurant in North Scottsdale that served huge portions and was inexpensive. Inexpensive in North Scottsdale? Ha, I said. Ha! HA! How could you find inexpensive in North Scottsdale when property values are through the roof and people have to pay for their luxury homes and Hummers and Botox? But, I decided to try it out anyway.
Since J. was in town and Madge and Boris seemed intrigued by the idea of inexpensive Persian food in North Scottsdale, we turned it into a double date kind of thing and hustled over to the Persian Room for a night of Middle Eastern fare and numerous comments about yet another curling iron burn mark on Madge’s neck.
We drove over to the Persian Room and almost missed the place the first time. We finally pulled into the parking lot of the Courtyard by Marriott and made our way over to the lot closer to the restaurant before parking and meandering our way to the entrance. We opened the doors and my heart sank. The interior was gorgeous. The restaurant was two story with a sweeping staircase that led up to the secondary dining room. Chandeliers filled the room and the gurgling water fountain in the middle of the restaurant combined to make the place comfortable and elegant. It was beautiful, but I couldn’t for the life of me imagine North Scottsdale, elegant interior AND cheap all rolled into one. I braced myself for the worst as we were seated and handed menus.
We were placed at a four-top table near a window and a clear view of the fountain and the bustling wait staff in their bow ties sweeping through the room with trays of food. I held my breath and opened the menu. Whew. It wasn’t what I would call “inexpensive,” but the prices were certainly reasonable.
Our server arrived and took our drink order. Madge and I had Diet Cokes ($2.00 each) while Boris and J. had Iced Tea ($2.00 each). Our server said that he would return with the beverages and give us a minute to review the menu. The menu was full of various items including plenty of kabob choices, stew dishes and combination platters.
While waiting for our drinks, another server brought us a basket of flat bread (gratis) accompanied by butter, sliced raw onions, and plenty of basil leaves. The bread was incredibly fresh having been made in a specialty oven about 25 feet from our table. It was cut into 2″ wide strips. I took a piece, slathered it with butter and topped it with some onion and basil before rolling it up and taking a bite. It was incredible. The bread was slightly crisp on the exterior, but had some chewiness to it. The basil and onion were great flavors of the earth that complimented the bread, and the butter just made it all so very rich. This was a wonderful way to start off our meal.
Our server returned with our drinks and then took our order. Madge and Boris decided to get the Homous ($5.95) for the table, while J. all but twisted my arm to get the Tah Dig ($7.95), a rice and stew dish. For our entrees, Madge and Boris each got the Chicken Filet Sultani ($19.95 each). J. opted for the Zereshk Polo with Chicken ($15.95) and I went for the Beef Shish Kebab ($17.95).
We waited about five minutes before our appetizers arrived. The Homous was the first to hit the table and the bowl containing the chickpea mixture was nearly overflowing. The homous was very smooth and creamy and had a wonderful abundance of garlic. We all grabbed pieces of the bread and dipped into the concoction. It was excellent. Very creamy, but still with some texture, the taste was bright and bold, especially with the extra garlic. Everyone at the table was in agreement that this was an excellent homous.
The Tah Dig that J. wanted was an interesting mix of the crunchy crust from the bottom of a rice cooker topped with a stew called Ghormeh Sabzy that consisted of parsley, green onions, beef, kidney beans and lime juice. The aroma and taste were very good, but I was not thrilled with the texture. Neither were Madge and Boris. It just seemed very odd and marred my enjoyment of the taste. J., on the other hand, was enjoying each bite and was more than happy to finish the remainder of the dish when Madge, Boris and I declined a second round. This was listed on the menu as an item that was “subject to availability” so I am sure it was a specialty dish, but I just couldn’t get past the texture. No fault on the side of the restaurant, but I wouldn’t order this item again.
We had about a 15 minute wait between finishing our appetizers and having our entrees arrive. When they did, I knew why people used the term “inexpensive.” The platters that arrived were huge, measuring around 20 inches across and 15 inches wide. Madge and Boris got their meals first and the Chicken Filet Sultani was a combination meal of a skewer of ground beef kebab and a skewer of marinated chicken filet pieces. This was served with a hefty serving of Basmati rice and a grilled tomato. Madge and Boris began to devout the kebabs and declared them “wonderful,” “delicious,” and “fantastic.” The chicken was very moist and had a wonderful flavor. The ground beef kebabs were heavily seasoned but still had a great beef flavor that would satisfy any meat eater. The rice, they said, was plentiful, light, fluffy and quite good.
J.’s Zereshk Polo with Chicken was a feast for the eyes. The plate was dominated by a huge serving of Basmati rice that had been mixed with barberries and saffron. Along side the rice was served a stewed half chicken. It was all garnished with tomato wedges, lemon wedges and peppers. The rice was beautiful with the red flecks from the berries shimmering on the golden background. J. took a bite of the rice and insisted we all try it. Exceptional. Truly exceptional. It was hard to describe the taste, but the berries added a bit of sweetness to the savory rice. We all agreed that the rice was fantastic. J. also liked the chicken as well noting that it had some lemony undertones.
My Beef Shish Kebab was stellar. The chunks of beef tenderloin and pieces of bell pepper, onion and tomato were broiled and each piece had a bit of a char on the edges, just enough to give it a smoky taste. The meat was tender and the vegetables still tender-crisp. This was certainly one of the better kebabs I have had and certainly one of the most substantial. The Basmati rice was just as Madge and Boris had indicated: moist, fluffy, and delicious. The grilled tomato was good, but I thought it would have been much better with a little creative seasoning from the kitchen.
We all struggled to finish even half our meals. The portion sizes were just incredibly large and we all ended up taking plenty of leftovers home. Considering the amount of food, the pricing, and the decor, I would agree with the assessment that this was inexpensive.
Our bill arrived and the total was $103.05 which included tax. We found this to be an excellent value. The service was good, but we did have to wave down our waiter a couple of times for refills on our beverages.
As we drove back to Phoenix, we all indicated that we wanted to go back to the Persian Room and try some of the other items on the menu. It was a great time with good friends and excellent food. I was left, however, with thoughts of how they could afford the rent on the place at the prices they charged.
However they do it, I hope they continue to do it for many years to come.
17040 North Scottsdale Road
Scottsdale, AZ 85255
Dress: Resort casual on up.
Hours: Sunday through Thursday - 11:00 AM to 9:30 PM; Friday and Saturday - 11:00 AM to 10:30 PM
Notes: Located just north of the Courtyard by Marriott on the west side of Scottsdale Road.
Additional photos can be found at www.feastinginphoenix.com