[Northenden, Manchester] Shiraz
We went to eat at this Persian place some months back, only to find it shut (seemingly permanently). Passing it a couple of weeks ago, we spotted it had reopened with new owners. And what a little cracker of a place it turned out to be.
There’s a fairly short menu – none of the page upon page of mezze items that you sometimes come across – but certainly enough to be of interest. What sparked the particular interest was a mezze choice of four items from the starter menu. However, the very lovely Iranian woman who was our server warned us off it, suggesting that the dishes were large and the mezze would easily feed four. So, we just ordered a couple of starters. First up, halim bademjan. I’ve had this before. A mix of aubergine, lentils, garlic and herbs, mashed together into not quite a dipping puree, then topped with yogurt. This was a belter of a version and the only sensible way to eat it was to dollop big spoonfuls onto the excellent flatbread. The other starter, hummus, was perfectly fine – but then hummus is hummus is hummus. We also ordered a bowl of very good torshi – nothing particularly exotic about the veg but all very nicely vinegared.
For mains, fesanjan was excellent. Long cooked, but still moist chicken. A big enough portion that would have fed two not very hungry people (or just me). The sauce sweetish from the pomegranate but not too sweet, and with little nibs of walnut offering a little texture change. The other plate, ghormeh sabzi – long cooked diced lamb and kidney beans with a restrained use of parsley, coriander, chive and fenugreek. Perhaps too restrained a use, it was like eating the Persian equivalent of shepherd’s pie. And, as with shepherd’s pie, it was good thing to eat.
But the gob-smackingly wonderful thing on both plates was the rice. Long grains, that we later found out was patna rice, beautifully cooked. Absolutely delicious – and we told the waitress so. Next minute, she’s explaining how it’s cooked and, yes, they’d be happy to sell us a kilo. That sorted, chef is the next person to arrive to tell us a simpler way to cook (basically just steam it, rather than a combination of boil and steam). Can’t recall ever buying ingredients direct from a chef before – nor getting a cookery lesson while we waited to pay the bill.
If you’re in the area, please go and give these nice people some business.