Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Tasty Persian feast at Zeitoon

Seeking a new food adventure this week, we set off to Zeitoon, a Persian restaurant recommended by a friend's co-worker.  Since we don't go to Middle-Eastern restaurants often, all of us wanted to try many dishes on the menu without killing ourselves.  Thankfully, the kitchen was able to accommodate us and preparing the dishes family-style that was easy to share.  Their dips and kabobs are definitely must-try.

Kashke bademjan, a mashed deep fried eggplant topped with whey, fried garlic and fresh mint, had a lot of flavours and was more unique than the eggplant dip I've had before.  Merza qassemi had broiled eggplant with slightly sweet and smoky flavour.

Their hummus was also very tasty with a smooth creamy texture.  I wanted to replicate this dish in my kitchen but having trouble finding tahini.  I think we stuffed ourselves with the pita before the mains even arrived.  We also tried dolma, or stuffed vine leaves, which were very good with their seasoned yogurt.

The kabobs were definitely the highlight.  We tried koobedeh (premium ground beef, they tasted like meatballs), barg (AAA tenderloin), shishlik lamb, bakhtiari (combination of chicken and ground beef).  They came with beautifully charred roasted tomatoes, peppers, olives and rice.  I ordered extra yogurt just to amplify the kabob eating experience.  There were plenty of rice and pita for us to enjoy the meat with. I love that everything was served with lime wedges. A little acidity brightened everything up and kept us from feeling overwhelmed.  My favourites were the tenderloin and the lamb, which was not gamey.

Underneath this blanket of rice infused with dill and lima beans was a tender lamb shank.  The meat was tender and went well with the accompanied sauce.  The bonus part was the bone marrow, which was cleaned out without a remnant. Fresh dill really brought in a nice aroma for the rice and I wish all their rice was served this way.

Ghormeh sabzi stew was a hearty dish with beef chunks cooked int sauteed vegetables, dried limes and red kidney beans.  I slathered all over saffron rice and relished in the tangy and savoury broth.
The portions were great and wholesome. And yes, we were stuffed after almost 2 hours of non-stop feasting.

For dessert, they didn't have anything else available beside the saffron flavoured ice cream topped with pistachio.  A pretty big bowl that was good enough to share.  For the price of around $4-7 per appetizer and $13-15 per main, that's really quite the value.  Between 6 people, we only paid $25 per person including gratuity.  We were all really happy with the dishes and would definitely go back.  Our only awkward moment was when we paying the bill.  Somehow our waitress didn't like that we had included the gratuity in the amount as we were paying, and demanded it be paid separately under "Tips" option rather than in full amount.  After calming her out of what I could only call a "near-meltdown" state, everything was settled and resumed normalcy.  I'm not really sure how tips are split amongst staff at the restaurant, but we thought that part was extremely bizarre.  So be aware when you pay with cards!

Zeitoon Restaurant and Grill House on Urbanspoon

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