Persian: Javan, Shamshiri, Shaherzad
I recently had 3 nights to kill in West LA/Santa Monica and decided to take advantage of the plethora of Persian restaurants in the area. So Javan, Shamshiri, and Shaherzad it was - three consecutive suppers. (I avoided several of the others based on comments on this board.)
So what's my verdict? Well, they are all good, but different. Food-wise they were fine, and truthfully I could not pick one over another on the basis of food alone. Hard to do the apples-to-apples comparison as I really didn't want to have the same entrée at each. But I did have the same starter, kashk e bademjan, the eggplant concoction. I liked the preparation at Javan and Shaherzad better than Shamshiri. I think they put dolmeh (grape leaves) in it which is non-standard but good.
I did end up having kebabs at both Javan and Shaherzad and bamieh stew (okra in tomato sauce over a lamb shank) at Shamshiri. The kebabs were all good, but the okra/tomato sauce was nothing special. I suspect Shamshiri's kebabs are right up there, though.
The wine lists were comparable at all three - not extensive and nothing fancy but quite suitable.
The big difference was in service and atmosphere. Javan was the most elegant, but was quite empty - dare I say dreary? - when I was there (6:30 on a Wednesday). The service there was workmanlike. Shamshiri was the friendliest (by far) and was bustling, although the room is a little funky (the only one with no tablecloths). Shaherzad was also full - Friday night - with a more upscale décor than Shamshiri, but the service was slightly on the disdainful side of perfunctory.
Prices were about the same.
So if I had to pick one, which would it be? Probably a toss-up between Javan and Shamshiri, depending on my mood. Quiet and depressed: Javan. Ebullient: Shamshiri.
Curious to learn how this compares with other hounds' experiences.
I don't know that I would call Javan dreary. Some nights, they have a guy at the piano playing cheesy American tunes and it's certainly more lively. I would say that the clientele tends to probably be older- it's perhaps more of a family place? You can't really compare if you went there on a Wednesday (early) v. another place on a Friday night. Their kabob is the best I've had in West LA.
I enjoyed reading your review. :) I usually go to Shamshiri. I like the food, and I also like the art on the walls.
I recently tried Shahrzade with my family. We all enjoyed the food, and we also enjoyed watching the bread being made and cooked in the tanoor.
I haven't tried Javan.
I definitely prefer Shamshiri to Sheherzad. I've mostly been for the lunch specials, and Shamshiri has a choice and better salads (I like the shirazi, with cucumber, onion, parsley and tomato) and serves more varied grilled vegetables with the entrees. Some posters rave about Sheherzad's freshbaked bread, but Shamshiri's also came hot and fresh with more garnishes. Really like Shamshiri's beef koobideh, and their chicken shawarma was more moist that the beef, but both came in huge portions. Perhaps most impactful to my perception, Sheherzad's waiter seemed to almost reluctantly sigh whenever he had to break his standing around time to serve me as a single, nondrinking diner, while Shamshiri's service is always friendly. Shamshiri also offers free, fast delivery -- I don't know about Sheherzad.