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Friday night Persian dinners at Middle East Market (Berkeley)

a
abstractpoet Jun 5, 2010 08:55 PM

When I stopped by the Middle East Market to pick up some flatbread today, they had some yellow slips of paper up front advertising Persian dinners that they'll be doing on Friday nights starting this coming Friday (June 11th). The woman at the register told me that for the first dinner they'd be serving "ghormeh sabzi," which she explained was a sort of stew with vegetables and lamb, served over rice. Maybe someone else more familiar with the cuisine could elaborate further?

Dinner will be served that Friday from around 5:00 until 8:00 (when they close). They only have that small dining area in the back of the store, so I don't know how much of a turnout they're expecting. But I'm hoping to check it out -- and if I don't get a chance to this week, hopefully someone else will (and report back, of course).

I forgot to ask about the price. In any case, all their breads and kabobs are great (and a good value), so I'd expect them to do a good job with these dinners too.

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Middle East Market
2054 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA 94702

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  1. Melanie Wong Jun 5, 2010 10:43 PM

    Would be interesting to have ghormeh sabzi made with lamb. Most of our local places use beef, often chuck. I wonder if they'll use fresh fenugreek instead of dried as it's in season now. The taste of fenugreek and dried limes in this dish can be too "exotic and foreign" for some palates, but they're what makes Persian sabzi taste different than its Afghani or Indian cousins.

    10 Replies
    1. re: Melanie Wong
      f
      flavorenhancer Jun 8, 2010 02:49 PM

      Had the frozen Ghormeh Sabzi from here last week. It was indeed beef, not lamb, but was quite tasty nonetheless.

      1. re: Melanie Wong
        p
        poulet_roti Jun 8, 2010 08:01 PM

        Ghormeh sabzi is almost exclusively made with lamb - maybe even the shank portion or other similar cuts that are suitable for stewing. Dried limes and fenugreek can give this dish a sour characteristic for which some may not be familiar.

        1. re: poulet_roti
          Melanie Wong Jun 8, 2010 09:19 PM

          Thanks, where do you recommend going for a lamb version?

          A quick survey finds Maykadeh in SF and Bijan (Walnut Creek and Fremont) listing ghormeh sabzi made with lamb shank on their menus.

          And, Bay Area restaurants using beef for ghormeh sabzi include:
          Shalizaar
          Alborz
          Cafe Renaissance
          Lavash
          Ziba
          Negeen
          Deezi Cafe
          Chatanoga
          Hatam
          Rumi
          Apadana
          Shiraz

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          Cafe Renaissance
          321 Hamilton Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94301

          Alborz
          1245 Van Ness Ave, San Francisco, CA 94109

          Shalizaar
          300 El Camino Real, Belmont, CA 94002

          Apadana Restaurant
          555 Francisco Blvd E, San Rafael, CA

          Bijan
          1690 Locust St, Walnut Creek, CA 94596

          Negeen Restaurant
          801 W Hamilton Ave, Campbell, CA 95008

          1. re: Melanie Wong
            p
            poulet_roti Jun 9, 2010 08:09 AM

            Not sure where I could recommend getting this out as typically my mother or father prepare it at home. That said, seems like most Persian restaurants are flogging the kababs as the main attraction, and some do them pretty well. Favorites include Shalizaar and Chelokababi in Sunnyvale.

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            Shalizaar
            300 El Camino Real, Belmont, CA 94002

            Chelokababi
            1236 S Wolfe Rd, Sunnyvale, CA 94086

            1. re: poulet_roti
              Melanie Wong Jun 29, 2010 09:04 PM

              Have you tried the sangak at the place in Sunnyvale yet?

            2. re: Melanie Wong
              Robert Lauriston Sep 11, 2010 09:33 AM

              I don't think I've had the ghorme sabzee at Maykadeh, but the other lamb dishes I've had there have been great.

          2. re: Melanie Wong
            a
            abstractpoet Jun 18, 2010 07:16 PM

            I still haven't made it out to the Middle East Market dinner yet (has anyone else?), but tonight we revisited the Friday night Persian dinner at Woodminster Cafe for the first time in a good couple years. I noticed that one of the two lamb stews they offer each week (they alternate b/w a green stew and a red one) is actually ghormeh sabzi -- the green one, of course. So it turns out that I've had the dish before (and liked it), and it was definitely made with lamb. On their menu, they list the dish as having parsley and dried lemon, but don't mention fenugreek (though that doesn't necessarily mean it isn't in the dish).

            FWIW, I thought tonight's stew at Woodminster -- the "gheimeh bademjani" -- was a real stunner, quite a bit better than I remember it being, actually. There were perfectly tender chunks of lamb and eggplant that was cooked until it was almost melting into the sauce. Add to that a generous amount of yellow beans (lentils?) to add some starch and, to keep it from all being too mushy, a scattering of crispy shoestring potatoes on top. We practically licked the bowl clean.

            Their lamb shank was good as usual (mildly seasoned, but very tender w/ nice gelatinous bits), and the salad shirazi was crisp and refreshing.

            (For those who don't know, Woodminster Cafe does these Persian dinners on Fridays through the end of the summer. It's best to call your order in early, as they sometimes sell out of the stews before that night's dinner service even begins).

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            Woodminster Cafe
            5020 Woodminster Ln, Oakland, CA 94602

            Middle East Market
            2054 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA 94702

            1. re: abstractpoet
              Melanie Wong Jun 29, 2010 09:03 PM

              That's good to know, thanks. Maybe we should try to keep track of the places that use lamb in the ghormeh sabzi. The next challenge would be find fesenjoon made with duck or pheasant instead of the ubiquitous chicken. :-P

              1. re: abstractpoet
                k
                Kayde May 14, 2011 01:37 PM

                Last night we tried the Woodminster Cafe Friday night special Persian dinners: ghormeh sabzi and lamb shank with rice and 2 different salads. The dinners were delicious and a bargain at about $35 total.

                Ghormeh sabzi was listed with lamb, parsley, lemon and red beans, but I also tasted what might be dill or fenugreek. Lamb shank was tender and juicy, nice chewy tendons, and the Shirazi salad was balanced and tart. The yogurt-based cucumber salad with raisins, walnuts and mint was very good. They serve gormeh sabzi and gheimeh bademjan on alternate Fridays.

                Woodminster Cafe only does these Friday Persian dinners in "late Spring and Summer" they told me, which I think means from May to September. 5pm to 7:30pm, take out or eat-in. They specifically recommended that we place orders the day before. 510 530 1661/ 510 530 1551.

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                Woodminster Cafe
                5020 Woodminster Ln, Oakland, CA 94602

                1. re: Kayde
                  a
                  abstractpoet May 14, 2011 02:59 PM

                  Yeah, after speaking to the chef-owner, I can confirm that Woodminster Cafe's ghormeh sabzi definitely has "shambalileh" (fenugreek leaves - dried, unless he can get someone to bring back fresh ones from Iran). It's a really great dish.

                  Recently tried their lamb kabob for the first time and thought it may have been the best I've ever had. Really moist, tons of flavor. Chef said the key is to add the juices from the onions (I guess a lot of other places don't do this because they're afraid the raw meat mix will be too wet and won't stay on the stick).

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                  Woodminster Cafe
                  5020 Woodminster Ln, Oakland, CA 94602

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