Tonight was my first time to Cafe Caspian at Westheimer, inspired by the prior report on the restaurant by Stewart below. Me and my friend arrived there after a long drive, and we hoped the food would be good...
It did. The food surpassed expectations.
Standing outside, one can look through the glass door and windows and see the lush Persian decor; stepping inside, one can then smell the myriad spices and fragrances coming from the kitchen in the back. It isn't too loud, which was surprising since there were quite a few people there (about 75% of maximum capacity), and it's dimly lit, so it's rather perfect for a romantic evening dinner.
I ordered the Tadhig for "appetizers" and for my entree I had a combination koobideh, which is essentially a kebab served with rice. I ordered cherry rice, and am glad I did.
The tadhig is essentially a plain paella, but the toppings of the stews are really good. BE CAREFUL, though: it is VERY filling, and the serving is gargantuan. It comes in a moderately large 12' plate, and it fills up every single bit of space on that plate...
The Koobideh is amazing. The meat is seasoned to perfection, but even more amazingly it isn't overcooked in the least bit; even the chicken koobideh is perfectly tender, almost melting in the mouth with every forkful.
We were too full to try their dessert. But I'm pretty sure I'll return some day, even if it means having to walk there from Rice Uni...
I think their technique probably beats Istanbul grill: Istanbul's meat is frequently dried out, and the seasoning isn't as well done as Cafe Caspian. True enough, the cuisine is different; but I personally think that Cafe Caspian is the slightly more enjoyable experience (though the long drive there does detract a bit of enjoyment).