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Restaurants & Bars 12

Papa Persian restaurant in Berkeley

garçon | Apr 16, 200212:41 AM

This is a non-descript establishment, the kind one usually passes often but doesn't patrinize, perhaps due to the no-frills appearance or perhaps the lack of popularity of the featured ethnic cuisine, Persian.

I tried it for the first time. We resisted the safe kabob choices (which seemed quite appetizing based on our neighbors' dishes) and explored two specialty plates: the eggplant and split pea stew, and the chicken in pomegranate and walnut sauce.

Both were very good and a reasonable $9, coming as side plates along with a heaping plate of white rice topped with saffron rice. The pomegranate dish reminded me of muhamara, a coarse syrian dip with a similar base (Haigs' version is widely available). It's a very interesting and unique combination base for a sauce or dip.

The wine assortment is quite limited, but then again most Persians and most students (apparently two main segments that patronize the establishment) do not automatically pair wine with food. They had a ho-hum cheap Shiraz and JW Morris (Zin or Merlot). The JW Zin was the better option, but at $18 per bottle (which retails at TJ for $3.50), corkage might be the way to go; I wished I'd brought a nice little mediterrannean red along.

The dessert list features a sweet shredded wheat and persian ice cream, which we didn't try this time but look forward to having next time.

The establishment seemed to have fairly solid hygiene standards.

All in all, Papa was a pleasant culinary experience. It reminded me a bit of the couscous restaurant down on Shattuck (a similar establishment from the other end of the mideast cuisine spectrum.)

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