Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Parsi Persian Food Restaurant: Luxury for less than $20

My friend Diane heard about this place on Catherine Jheon's CBC radio segment, Beyond Burgers, so we went tonight with our peeps and weren't disappointed. Delicious appetizers, mains, tea, and dessert came to roughly $20 per person, including a generous tip.

Parsi Persian Food restaurant is like two restaurants in one. On one side of the room, there is a cafeteria-style counter with a long steam table and a large, food court-style board above it showing pictures of the entree combos (meat, rice, salad). On the other side is a dining room that can seat at least 30 and has table service in the evenings.

I looked up both Parsi and Persian on Wikipedia and it said that Parsis (people) are members of the Zoroastrian community based primarily in India and descended from Persian Zoroastrians who emigrated to India over 1,000 years ago. Persia is basically what we now call Iran.

We started with the Mixed Appetizer Plate, which included dainty portions of Mast-o-kiar (yogurt and cucumber salad similar to tzatziki), Baba Ganouj, Kashk-e Bademjan (smoked eggplant with mint), Mirza Ghassemi (smoked eggplant with tomato and garlic), Falafel, Dolmeh (grapes leaves stuffed with rice), and toasted whole wheat pita bread. Many of the items were very familiar and had a Greek/Lebanese feel, but I suppose that many Middle Eastern/European countries share the same types of food but with subtle variations. I especially liked the smokey eggplant dishes and falafel. One plate cab be comfortably shared between 2-3 people leaving you with enough room to enjoy a main.

The mains were served like single complete meals, but we had to sample as many things as possible, so we ordered 5 different ones and shared. We had the Koobideh Kebab (charbroiled ground beef), Chicken Kebab (charbroiled saffron lemon chicken), Ghamieh (stew with tomatoes, split peas, and beef), Baghali Poli (slow roasted lamb shank), and Kashk-e Badmjan (same as the app). Most of these dishes came with saffron rice, but one came with cranberry rice and another with rice mixed with broad beans and dill.

Before the mains, they served us a simple iceberg lettuce and tomato salad with a lemon/olive oil dressing (the other choices were Ranch or Italian - um, no). The dressing was very virtuous: lemony with very little oil. It was pretty bland, but it was nice having something light before all the upcoming meat.

All the entrees were amazing, but I especially liked the lamb shank and Ghamieh (curry-like stew). The lamb shank was impossibly tender and delicious. The stew had really interesting and slightly sweet spicing that contrasted well with all the other charbroiled meat dishes. While the cranberry rice and broad bean/dill rice were tasty, I prefer the plain saffron rice as a more neutral accompaniment (not that saffron is plain by any means).

Afterwards, Michael and I indulged in some baklava and tea. They had two kinds of baklava: one with walnuts and one with pistachios. Both were crisp, slightly warm, gooey, and dripping with honey. Sigh. This may be the heaviest dessert in the world, but it's so good.

Parsi Persian Food restaurant really is a gem. The food is good, the service is friendly, the atmosphere is comfortable (not too casual, not too fancy) and it's so affordable. You must go. For more pictures and the complete menu, click here.

Parsi Persian Food Restaurant
141 Spadina Avenue (at Richmond)
Toronto, ON
Mon-Wed, 11-9 PM.
Thurs-Sun, 11-11PM /p

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