June 2005: Shamshiry

With hanging plants and exquisite fabrics on the walls, this restaurant seeks to reproduce the atmosphere and cooking of the cuisine of Persia, now Iran.

With hanging plants and exquisite fabrics on the walls, this restaurant seeks to reproduce the atmosphere and cooking of the cuisine of Persia, now Iran. The food leans toward kebabs of meat and fowl, but there are plenty of vegetarian offerings. Prices are moderate–most main courses are under $11. Absent from the menu is alcohol, so customers order soft drinks or the traditional yogurt-based doogh.

Two of the six appetizers are yogurt-based–mast-o khiar, yogurt with cucumbers and dill, and mast-o musir, yogurt with chopped garlic. More challenging is torche bademjan, a pickled relish of eggplant, cilantro, mint, black caraway, and garlic. Main courses are mostly kebabs–chicken, Cornish hen, beef, salmon, or ground beef–which come with mounds of rice. Aficionados make a hole in the rice and add a raw egg (75 cents extra) and butter, mix well, then dust the mound and meat with sumac, a mixture of herbs and spices. The menu lists a number of vegetarian rice dishes for $4.98, including pieces of crusty rice from the bottom of the pot enlivened with sour cherries, red currants, fava beans, or orange peel with pistachios and almonds. Consider sharing one of these to go with the kebabs. Saffron or cinnamon ice cream are good endings.

Shamshiry, 8607 Westwood Center Dr., Vienna; 703-448-8883.

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