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Shamshiri - WORST SERVICE EVER

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italianstallion Jan 17, 2009 09:54 PM

Just back from an extremely disappointing dinner at Shamshiri.

We hadn't been to Shamshiri in many years, but wanted to take an out-of-town friend out for Persian food.

Granted, it was a Saturday night and they were rather busy (no wait to be seated though). Our server was friendly, but it took a quite a while for her to get our wine and appetizers to the table. We did notice she was handling a lot of tables.

Good thing we ordered two appetizers because it took almost ONE HOUR for our entrees to arrive. Several tables that had been seated after us had received their food. During that hour, no one returned to the table to bus the appetizers, refill the water glasses, the bread basket or check in on us. Not once. The hummus sat for so long it developed a skin. When we finally got our server's attention, she offered no explanation except to say that she was very busy and had indeed put the order in.

Another patron (who had received his food) commiserated with us about the bad service.

We called the manager over. He offered no apologies, but then proceeded to yell at the waitress in front of us. When the food finally arrived, we had to call someone back and ask for silverware. Still, no offer of refills on the bread, water, etc. The food was OK (not great), and the evening had already soured.

When the check arrived it was for the full amount. I put my credit card down, but no one returned to run the charge. Furious, my partner walked it over to the manager and demanded that he give us a break in light of the outrageously lousy service. In the end, they did comp our drinks and gave us a "family discount," which amounted to about $30 off the bill. It was still $90 for three people.

On the way out, the manager asked us to come back again so that he could make it up to us. We said no thanks. He then asked us if we thought he should fire our server!

I'm astonished. I understand that from time to time things go wrong in restaurants (as they do in all other businesses). OWN IT, apologize and then make an effort to make it right. Nobody did that.

Moreover, we weren't the only ones receiving bad service, and they are clearly under-staffed. My recommendation is to STAY AWAY. Far away.

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  1. Azizeh RE: italianstallion Jan 17, 2009 10:09 PM

    That's too bad. I have found that far too many Persian restaurants suffer from horrible service. I'm Persian and I still can't get good service in most of the places.
    Baran, also on Westwood is where I had the worst service ever. Just one waitress in the whole place who had no idea how to prioritize anything and had no sense of urgency. Despite the food being good, I never returned. I like Shahrezad, but I can't say I have been there during a rush, so I can't comment on the service. Better luck next time!

    3 Replies
    1. re: Azizeh
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      ZoeZ RE: Azizeh Jan 18, 2009 09:33 AM

      I thought the service at Baran was appalling and the food not much better, the one time we went. They ran out of rice too. Thought it was because we were not Persian that we got lousy treatment but I see from your experience Azizeh, that you suffered the same way.

      1. re: ZoeZ
        Azizeh RE: ZoeZ Jan 18, 2009 11:48 PM

        My favorite Persian is at Orchid in Costa Mesa. Much too far from my home in Santa Monica. Their service wasn't wonderful. It was never rude, just slow, but their fresh made lavash and reasonable prices made up for it. I'm having trouble finding a good Persian place in LA. I used to have great service at Darya in Orange County until I had such a god awful experience I refuse to go to the LA Darya. To be honest, if I'm not making it myself, I just go to Charlie Kabob in the Westside Pavilion food court. It's pretty good, cheap, fast, the owner is friendly, and my expectations are low so I am always pleasantly surprised.

      2. re: Azizeh
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        geekbruin RE: Azizeh Jan 23, 2009 05:43 PM

        I agree with Azizeh. Shamshiri, as well as most of the Persian restos in Westwood that I can think of, have pretty bad to average service. Shamshiri used to have much worse service, too. In my opinion, it's actually improved in the past few years.

        The best service I've had there has been during lunch. Also, if you order take out, you can bypass the whole wait staff and the kitchen is usually very fast about getting your order out.

      3. westsidegal RE: italianstallion Jan 17, 2009 10:11 PM

        i'm so sorry about such an awful experience!

        fwiw, shamshiri is on my regular rotation, and i have never experienced anything like what you experienced tonight. i can't imagine what went wrong, but i can say that this isn't the norm at shamshiri. they never have 'great' service, but never terrible service either.

        1 Reply
        1. re: westsidegal
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          noshie RE: westsidegal Jan 18, 2009 12:48 AM

          I agree, I go there fairly regularly (I've been there on Saturday nights) and have never had anything like this. The manager's reaction sounded strange and extreme, maybe he/she was trying to make it right to you by blaming things on the server? It just sounds like the restaurant was having an off night to me.

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          ceviche RE: italianstallion Jan 17, 2009 11:23 PM

          wow that sucks. really sorry to hear about the bad experience. i went there with a group of 9 on wednesday night and we had a very nice meal. the service was decent, but that might have been a result of the fact that it was a pretty slow night. i guess shamshiri is better when there isn't a crowd?

          also, what dishes did you order? i had the lamb on the bone (not kebab and not the shank...it looked like 6 little t-bone medallions) and i thought it was great. very flavorful and juicy. a little mild (i really like in-your-face lamb flavor) but especially good with a bit of lime squeezed on top.

          1 Reply
          1. re: ceviche
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            italianstallion RE: ceviche Jan 18, 2009 03:01 PM

            Beef and lamb kebabs and also the lamb chops, which were the best of the three.

            Frankly, I think Pita Kitchen in Sherman Oaks (not Persian of course) has better kebabs. We should have gone there instead!

          2. a_and_w RE: italianstallion Jan 18, 2009 06:57 AM

            Were you there last night? They were clearly overwhelmed -- more mobbed than I've ever seen the place. Food and service both suffered accordingly.

            3 Replies
            1. re: a_and_w
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              italianstallion RE: a_and_w Jan 18, 2009 02:59 PM

              Yes, busy but no one was waiting for a table. There's really no excuse.

              1. re: italianstallion
                a_and_w RE: italianstallion Jan 19, 2009 07:24 AM

                I had to wait about 10 minutes for a table. I also saw a line of people waiting for tables when we left.

                1. re: a_and_w
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                  queen jord RE: a_and_w Jan 23, 2009 11:14 AM

                  i was also there with my parents that night... how strange! my service was not great, but it was fine. the weirdest thing was how the waitress and the busboy kept slamming down the dishes and drinks. everytime they put something down on the table, it made a huge noise.

                  that being said, i did enjoy the food. i will be back, but if my service is bad, ive been warned!

            2. Vince S RE: italianstallion Jan 18, 2009 03:57 PM

              Sorry to hear...

              we realized the quality has gone downhill since probably 18months ago.

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                bophisto RE: italianstallion Jan 18, 2009 04:58 PM

                I went to Shamshiri once on Westwood , and also experienced bad service. The maitre'd manager? had us wait , but it totally seemed that he was sitting other people before us . Then when he finally found a table he wanted to put us at a tiny little table by the door, I refused that. Also the service from the waitresses was pretty bad as well. Only good server was the busy boy, I feel sorry for them.

                I don't know how these places stay in business if they act like that.

                1 Reply
                1. re: bophisto
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                  misseatalot RE: bophisto Jan 18, 2009 09:46 PM

                  A few years back I looked on their website that said opening time was 11AM. So I stopped by at 11AM for my lunch hour. Not open. The people setting up the restaurant said to stop back at 11:30AM. I came back at 11:30 AM and I stood at the hostess stand for five minutes. Even though servers and others saw me, no acknowledgement. I was hungry and was willing to put up with being ignored but after being ignored after being seated, and on my lunch hour, I walked out and went to Sunnin instead. I've never been back because of the shoddy service.

                2. streetgourmetla RE: italianstallion Jan 19, 2009 12:38 AM

                  Thanks to all for the reports. I will definitely not be bringing groups, my wife, or anybody I like to this place.Ridiculous.I don't recall any problems at the Northridge Shamshiri, but it has been a while.

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                    coco puff RE: italianstallion Jan 19, 2009 10:21 AM

                    I don't like Shamshiri..their service is not good and the food is bleh. We've been going to Flame, just up the street...love it there...great food, good service. Shahrzad is good too...I like their tahchin..but the kabobs are better at Flame.
                    Persian restaurants are packed Sundays..family day out.

                    I hear Panini cafe in Bev hills serves some great kabobs too.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: coco puff
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                      CucumberBoy RE: coco puff Jan 21, 2009 02:26 PM

                      I've been to this particular Shamshiri twice and both times the service was as the OP described -- non-existent.

                      These days when I crave Shamshiri, I go to Dinah's and have chicken instead.

                      -cb-

                    2. boogiebaby RE: italianstallion Jan 21, 2009 04:50 PM

                      Which Shamshiri did this happen at? We go to the Northridge one fairly often and have never experienced a problem like this.

                      1. ronnie_gaucho RE: italianstallion Jan 22, 2009 10:01 PM

                        lol maybe you shouldn't be going to a "Persian" establishment that includes hummus on their menu?

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: ronnie_gaucho
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                          ceviche RE: ronnie_gaucho Jan 23, 2009 10:54 PM

                          is hummus not eaten in iran?

                          1. re: ceviche
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                            geekbruin RE: ceviche Jan 24, 2009 07:22 AM

                            Yes, hummus is not classic Iranian food. I'm Persian by marriage and even just double-checked our handed-down English-Persian cookbook. Thus, it shouldn't be expected on a Persian menu. Middle Eastern food does share a lot of similarities though, especially regional riffs on the same thing (e.g. kabobs, yogurt and cucumber dips) so ronnie_gaucho's dig, while untrue, is not completely unreasonable.

                            Their menu seems pretty traditional. As far as I can recall, there really aren't any dishes on there that I can think of that aren't Persian. They're started garnishing their kabobs with grilled hot peppers in addition to onions and tomatoes. Usually it's just tomatoes so I guess *that's* not Persian...

                            Though the service is not great at Shamshiri, the food's quite good. It's not the best in Westwood but it has the best selection of Persian dishes and great value (especially their lunch specials). Their kabob, while not the highest quality, is always piping hot and satisfying. Their stews are also pretty good. I really like their okra and tomato stew with lamb shank.

                            1. re: geekbruin
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                              geekbruin RE: geekbruin Jan 24, 2009 11:01 AM

                              My bad, ronnie_gaucho, i totally misread your earlier comment. You're totally right.

                              1. re: geekbruin
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                                ceviche RE: geekbruin Jan 25, 2009 11:58 PM

                                thanks geekbruin! i guess anytime i eat food from the middle east / greece / iran / anwywhere east of italy and west of india, i just expect hummus to be on the menu. i guess i got some learnin to do!

                                1. re: ceviche
                                  ronnie_gaucho RE: ceviche Jan 26, 2009 08:37 AM

                                  No worries...I'm just trying to share some info with everyone. Hummus is NOT eaten in Iran. My mom told me the first time she ever ate hummus was at the age of 35 in Los Angeles! lol

                                  FYI I think the food and service at Sharezad is great...Go there instead

                          2. cant talk...eating RE: italianstallion Jan 24, 2009 09:10 AM

                            Maybe I'm in the minority, but this kind of service sounds pretty average for this type of restaurant in L.A. (cheap & ethnic) - an hour wait for food is long, but it's happened to me plenty of times, esp. when a place is full and maybe a server hasn't shown up for their shift. I never expect a server to offer refills of water and bread (and am pleasantly surprised when they offer water unprompted, which is pretty rare nowadays), and being seated w/o silverware or menus happens about 10% of the time in my experience. Glad you got a comp for some of it (never woulda thought of that).

                            This is NOT to defend this place in any way - I've been twice and was underwhelmed both times in terms of food and service - I remember very young, inexperienced servers catering to a super-casual college crowd, and sort of bland, pan-Middle-Eastern fare. Aram in Beverly Hills is, to me, decent Persian food and it's always empty. Maybe try there next time?

                            Oh yeah - I never expect that a server will bring the check when not asked, ever, in any restaurant, and am never surprised when they don't return to pick up the credit card. Chalk it up to vastly lowered expectations, though I do empathize w/ your experience!

                            -----
                            Aram Restaurant
                            138 S Beverly Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90212

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: cant talk...eating
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                              Ernie RE: cant talk...eating Jan 24, 2009 09:26 AM

                              I used to love Shamshiri years ago, before they moved into their current space and added the "Grill" part to their name (the old Hollywood location was even better), but last visit I also found it on the bland side and they cook their basmati too moist. Their freshly baked bread was good, but I doubt I'll ever go out of my way again since there is a good Persian restaurant now a few blocks a way from where I live in South Bay

                              1. re: cant talk...eating
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                                geekbruin RE: cant talk...eating Jan 24, 2009 10:28 AM

                                I've heard Aram is very good.

                                I like Shamshiri but respect your opinion about it. It is what it is, fast (usually), value-priced food. I've been trying to make decent basmati rice for years and have yet to make it properly with any consistency. So as long as their rice is better than mine and eating there is cheaper than cooking it myself, I'm OK with Shamshiri.

                              2. katkoupai RE: italianstallion Jan 24, 2009 10:34 AM

                                I like Shamshiri very much, and I'm sorry to hear that the service was so bad when you went. It sounds like they needed more waiters and waitresses (maybe more people in the kitchen, too).

                                The last time I was in that area, Shamshiri was also very busy, so I walked a few blocks down Westwood Blvd. and had a very nice meal at Shahrzad. The restaurant was less busy than Shamshiri, and the food was very good.

                                Flame is also on the same block. If you want dinner and entertainment, you could try Camden House in Beverly Hills.

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