It's a weekend to visit some old favorites, I guess, as a group of us hit Lala Rokh. Everything we remember fondly about the place still pertains: very gracious (and patient) service, an understated (I'd say romantic, if it were date night) dining room, and tremendous, subtle, rich food.
After good bread with a hummus-like spread, we nibble on a few small plates: two kinds of eggplant spread, a cool, creamy spinach dish, some plump grilled shrimp, a green salad. Entrees feature our favorite fragrant stews of dark chicken, veal and not-overdone lentils, lamb shank, beef.
The little plates of torshi are essential accompaniments, e.g., two kinds of savory yogurt (I love the shallot-flavored one), preserved whole garlic cloves, a tamarind relish, pickled vegetables. These provide some of the many tangy flavors that jump out at us all night, perking up and accentuating the complex spice blends, cutting the richness of the stewed and grilled meats.
Desserts include a chocolate mousse cake with raspberry coulis (not particularly Persian, I think), and the excellent, bite-sized, almond-based baqlava.
We find a reasonably priced Malbec-Cabernet blend that stands up to the food without overwhelming it. Prices work out to about $50/person inclusive, and we left at least an entree's worth of food on our plates. Next time I'll eat less bread, and remember to order one of the amazing soups here. Quietly stunning food, a feast, a relative bargain.