Melanie and Caitlin organized a Chowhound dinner last Tuesday at Maykadeh, a Persian restaurant in North Beach. The 10 hounds in attendance were:
Caitlin & Mike
Joan & Jessie
Persian food is very well suited to eating family style, so we ordered a lot of items off the appetizers and entrees menu to share. At the end of the meal, everyone voted for their top three dishes so we could report back what the consensus was.
Warm pita bread and butter was served along with the appetizers, and white basmati rice with a little bit of saffron basmati rice on top was served with the entrees. There were also shakers filled with ground sumac on the tables, which I used on the grilled meats and the rice.
Sabzee - Traditional garnish, onions & feta cheese ($4.00 x 2)
This garnish consisting of herbs (fresh basil and parsley), raw onions quartered and feta cheese is often complementary in Persian restaurants, but it had to be ordered separately here. Nothing terribly exciting, but I enjoyed having some pita bread with basil and feta cheese to start with.
Koobideh - Skewered mix of ground lamb and beef with Persian spices ($4.50 x 2)
As an appetizer, a single grilled skewer is served with a grilled tomato on the side. Koobideh can also be ordered as an entree, in which case you get a second skewer and basmati rice. This dish was one of the more popular ones of the night (four people rated it amond their top three), it was moist and had a very nice soft consistency (I believe they grind the meat twice).
Lamb Tongue - Lamb tonge with lime juice, sour cream and saffron ($7.00)
A large serving of braised little lamb tongues in a creamy saffron sauce, this was another popular dish (four votes also). The tongues were braised just long enough to be tender yet still stay a little chewy. The taste was just a little gamey, and the sauce was rich but not too much so. This was my favorite dish of the night, though I don't think I could have had an entire serving by myself.
Kashke Bademjan - Eggplant with mint garlic sauce ($6.50)
I believe the way they make this dish is first to grill the eggplant, then to peel and mash it, and finally cook it with the sauce. This dish was fairly popular (three votes), but I found it too garlicky for my taste. Someone said that they probably use toasted garlic, which would explain why the garlic taste was so pronounced.
Tah Dig Ta-Chin - Crispy rice (vegetarian) ($5.00)
Tah Dig Gaymeh - Crispy rice with Ghaymeh ($7.50)
I think we ordered the second one of these, but I could not taste any meat in the dish, so I'm not sure which one it really was. This dish came as a big square piece of crispy rice, about half an inch thick, and was covered with a red sauce that had lentils in it. I found it a tad crispy for my taste, and rather bland. People who were served last said that the rice had gotten soggy. One person had this as one of their top three dishes.
Mast-o-Khiar - Homemade yogurt and cucumber ($3.50)
A tsatsiki like yogurt dip with cucumber and herbs. Enjoyable with pita or on the side with the other appetizers, but nothing extraordinary here.
Hot Dolma - Stuffed grape leaves with lamb ($6.50)
I think there were about 5 dolmas, served with a sour cream like sauce. The most disappointing appetizer for me, but I'm not a big fan of dolmas in general. I didn't taste much lamb in this dish.
The lamb, beef and chicken kebabs we ordered were served in one large platter, with grilled tomatoes and parley on the side. The other entrees were served in separate dishes.
Shishlik - Lamb Chops marinated with basil, garlic, onion and lime juice ($20.00)
The lamb chops were cooked medium well, but thanks to the marinade were still tender and moist. This was the most popular dish of the night (five votes for top three).
Sturgeon Kebab - Pommegranate, lime juice ($17.50)
This fish kebab was cooked just right, so the fish did not get rubbery at all. I couldn't taste the pommegranate, but I wasn't looking for it as I hadn't read the menu carefully at the time. This was a popular dish (four votes).
Zereshk Polo - Steamed rice with barberry, saffron and chicken thighs ($12.50)
The steamed basmati rice was yellow from the saffron that was cooked with it, and there were dried barberries sprinkled with it, along with some chicken. It was the first time that I tried barberries, they tasted a bit like dried cranberries, quite tart. This dish was also a hit (four votes).
Koresht Fesenjoon - Dry roasted crushed walnuts, cooked in pomegranate juice with chicken thighs ($13.50)
This dish consisted of a thick, sweet, sour red sauce with some chicken in it. It was somewhat popular (two votes), but I found it too sour for my taste. It's a good dish to share in a large group so that everyone gets to try it, but I'm not sure if it would be enjoyable as a main course for just one person.
Maykadeh Kebab (Barg) - Skewered thin slices of filet mignon marinated in lime juice and onion ($20.00)
The beef was sliced fairly thin, and was cooked well done. It had a nice grilled taste to it, and got one vote as a top three dish. I liked this kebab quite a bit, but it not quite make my list of favorites for the night.
Poussin - Baby chicken marinated in onion and saffron served with bones ($13.50)
The little pieces of chicken were yellow from the saffron marinade. This dish also got one vote as a top dish, I think it was from me as I liked it quite a bit.
Shish-Kebab - Lean pieces from leg of lamb, marinated in lime juice, saffron, onion and olive oil ($17.00)
The lamb pieces were cooked well done. Another competent kebab dish, the marinade gave a really nice taste to the meat, but it was overshadowed by the other kebab dishes and did not get any votes.
Ghorme Sabzee - Lamb shank cooked in finely chopped onion, scalions, leeks, chives and herbs ($13.50)
Another dish that didn't get any votes as a top three dish, and I didn't care for it too much personally. The lamb shank had been slow cooked, so the meat was very tender and just falling off the bone. It was served in a thick stew of chopped greens.
We were pretty full by the time we were done with the main courses, so we only ordered two desserts. The dessert menu was pretty short, with only four offerings altogether, the two we ordered plus Baklava and Creme Caramel.
Bastani - Persian ice cream ($3.50)
A glass filled with a yellow ice cream (probably pistachio and saffron), with a bit of rose water poured on top. The first bites had too much rose water taste for me, though some people enjoyed that. Later on, the pistachio and saffron taste came through more cleanly.
A dish of vermicelli frozen in ice, with rose syrup served on the side to be poured on top. This is a traditional Persian dessert, and I found it quite interesting, though again the rose taste prevented me from having too much.
We had brought 6 bottles of wine, so I didn't get a chance to take a look at the restaurant's wine list. We had two sparkling wines with the appetizers, and two Rhone red wines with the entrees. We did not get a chance to open two bottles of California zinfandel that had also been brought, including a bottle of Ridge from the early nineties (I'm not sure what we were thinking when we passed up on that wine!)
The first bottle was a non vintage Gruet Brut, Blanc de Noir, a sparkling wine from Albuquerque, NM, made in the Champenoise method. This was the surprise of the night for me, a very competent sparkling wine rivaling its Napa counterparts.
The second bottle was a dry red sparkling wine called The "Sons" Sparkling Merlot, and the producer was Moorebank from Hunter Valley, Australia. It was the first time I had such a wine, and it was definitely an interesting discovery. However, in the end I didn't enjoy the combination of the tannic finish and the bubbles, so I only had half a glass.
The first red wine was a 1994 Chateauneuf du Pape from the Domaine du Vieux Telegraphe. This southern Rhone wine is traditionally a blend dominated by grenache, with some syrah and mouvedre as well, and potentially small quantities of a few other varietals. It did not look or taste like a 9 year old wine to me, it was still very dark colored, and there was quite a bit of tannins on the finish. I liked this wine quite a bit, though I found the finish a little too bitter.
The other red wine was a 1999 Crozes Hermitage from Domaine des Entrefaux, and the producer was Tardy. This is a northern Rhone wine made from syrah grapes. This wine was not quite as complex as the Chateauneuf du Pape, but it was easy to drink and very accessible.
Maykadeh is a competent restaurant, though it does not shine above the other Persian restaurants in the
Bay Area. We had quite a good meal, but I would not rate Maykadeh as a destination place. It was a good value, as the total with corkage, tax and tip was $30 per person. The service was very slow, it was really hard to get anyone's attention even though the restaurant was less than half full. We had to remind the waiter a couple of times for things like water service.
If you do have dinner at Maykadeh, try to share dishes. I recommend ordering the lamb tongue and the barberry rice dishes, as they were both very unique and quite popular that night. I think the whole group had a very good time at dinner, and even though we started at 7pm, a few of us were still chatting at the table until 10:30pm when the place closed. It was my first Chowhound dinner, and I certainly enjoyed it a lot.
Maykadeh Persian Cuisine
470 Green St (cross street is Grant Ave)
San Francisco 94133