Two weeks ago I had a chance to follow-through on my curiosity about Deezi Café, meeting my brother there for dinner. Part of the reason I chose it of the various newer Persian spots in the South Bay is that a few years ago we had patronized the earlier occupant at that address, Nevsky, a Russian restaurant and wondered how it might have changed.
Dinner at Nevsky -
The street side sign still says “Nevsky” with Deezi Café indicated above it. The interior now has a cleaner and less cluttered look with more attractive lighting. The samovars and full bar have been retained, as well as the set-up for live music. And on this night, we were treated to solo guitarist performing with band-in-a-box. The atmosphere was festive and noisy even though the restaurant was only half-full. As each customer arrives, the manager runs over to greet the new party and clangs a dinner bell mounted near the kitchen.
Image of tahdig with ghormeh sabzi, complimentary flatbread with fresh herbs, feta cheese, butter and onions, mirzaghasemi, kaleh pacheh, koubideh (added a side of rice pullao), and bastani
When our complimentary baked-to-order flatbread and plate of sabzi came out as soon as we put our menus down, William surmised that the gong show was not just a welcome but a signal to the kitchen to fire another round of bread in the tandor. The hot bread was huge, bigger than a dinner plate, accompanied by dewy fresh basil, feta cheese, raw onion, and butter. Both of us marveled that the lightly charred flatbread could be both crunchy outside and densely chewy through the middle.
For appetizers we had mirzaghasemi and tahdig with ghormeh sabzi. My first experience with mirzaghasemi so I have no platonic ideal, nevertheless, I really liked this mash of eggplant and will be very happy if the renditions in my future are as tasty. Very smoky and softly creamy eggplant with a bit of citrus and tomato tartness enriched with hardcooked egg yolk, what's not to like? The ghormeh sabzi was a bit heavy on the dried lime character for my brother, whereas, I thought the seasoning was just right and appreciated that the kitchen didn’t spare on the fenugreek. However, the rice was more hard than crispy with some pieces plain inedible. Earlier we’d been served the tahdig with gaymeh in error, and that rice looked better to us than our dish.
The kaleh pacheh was ordered more to extend our offal experience into lamb tendon than anything else and turned out to be a marvel. Our waitress described it as boiled lamb tongue, tendon, and cheeks in its own broth, and recommended it highly "if you like meat". Imagine an earthy lamb version of bollito misto with a heavier, more gelatin-rich stock base or perhaps pot au feu meets consumé de borrego and this would be it. Each morsel was the optimal texture --- softened tendon with just enough resistance to the bite, fork-tender whole tongue, and slightly firm cheek meat with a bit of chew to it. William was really impressed by the lamb cheeks but found the tongue a little too gamey. The broth was so deliciously satisfying in its lamb-y simplicity. I did find myself wishing for some salsa verde for the tongue. Instead, my brother said he’d take it home and give it a shot of sriracha sauce.
The koubideh was also excellent, hitting the medium rare we requested without sacrificing any of the sizzling char of the grill. This had a bit more onion blended into the fine-textured ground beef that added extra savoriness, and the extra fattiness paid off in more flavor. Beautiful rice (ordered as an additional side) with long, separate grains, and the only complaint was that we had to wait too long for some sumac for our table.
Two apps and two mains is a huge amount of food here and we’d eaten much too much. But I couldn’t leave without trying the housemade bastani (Persian ice cream). Quite heavy on the rosewater and flavored with saffron and pistachio, this had a firm texture that was somewhere between Indian kulfi and American ice cream. We were very glad we ordered dessert.
Service was swift and friendly. To-go boxes appeared without our asking for them. With tea, a couple dough's (very good too), tax and tip, the bill was a little over $50 for the two of us, and we had enough food for another diner.
1740 South Winchester Blvd.
Campbell, CA 95008
Between Hamilton Ave. and Latimer Ave.
Persian Restaurants in the South Bay?
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