Pars Restaurant is coming back to Farmington Hills, MI
Adapted from another thread I posted in:
I was driving to my brother and SIL's house today which took me down Orchard Lake Road in Farmington Hills between 13 and 14 Mile Roads. You know that restaurant property on the west side of the road at 30005 Orchard Lake that's housed several different (read: all failures) restaurant concepts over the last decade or so? Well, it's soon to be the new incarnation of Pars Restaurant, according to the signage out front!
Having never been to Pars myself, I'm kind of intrigued by what you folks have said about it. Now I'll finally have a reason to patronize that establishment. What dish(es) would you recommend once they open?
This is awesome Pars was the ONLY Persian restaurant without going to Chicago or Toronto I am very excited. Thanks for the good news.
Pars is wonderful. Best dish for me are the Lamb chops.
there is none better . Recently revisited Pars, and had them, just as wonderful as before. I would suggest you give them a try if you want a wonderful meal.
Tried Pars tonight. To say that I have mixed feelings is accurate.
They're still in their soft opening stage, so there's room for improvement. The visual and aesthetic image of the place is a bit strange. It's obvious that they're trying to go a bit upscale, but it doesn't look or feel like very much effort was put into actually *being* upscale, or whoever was doing the place's restoration/new reimagining either didn't go far enough, or just didn't know what they were doing. It's especially noticeable in the men's bathroom and the hallway leading there. Plus, the bathroom could use some cleaning.
I asked to see a menu and was a bit disappointed that there wasn't something sort of mid-scale to sort of test the waters with, since I'm new to Persian. Under "Gourmet Rice" was listed "Adas Polo with Lamb Shank", described as "Lentil and raisin mixed with rice and served with lamb shank". I inquired about it, and asked what kind of sauce (if any) the lamb shank was prepared with, and was told (accurately) a tomato-and-vegetable sauce, which is pretty typical, I thought. The two were served separately, and I was feeling like some lamb, so I decided to go for it and asked to be seated.
Not too crowded there on a Wednesday night, but a couple of other tables were occupied speaking language(s) that I wouldn't be able to decipher if a gun was at my head. One of the oddest things about the place is that, in the corner of the restaurant, right by one of the doors to the kitchen, that's where the servers gather for their ritualistic virgin sacrifices. Er, no...but they do gather there, all of them, right out in the open and just sort of hang out, talking to each other. It's strange, and a bit disconcerting, especially since there were times that I wanted my server's attention, and couldn't get it. He did a pretty good job, and I tipped right around 20%, but that "gathering"...it's off-putting. It's kind of like being watched while you eat, and not in a very good way. You *feel* watched. Disconcerting.
I should note that, when you order, you'd better be aware that you will get *exactly* what you order, and nothing more. No bread will be brought to the table. Entrees do not include anything other than what's listed in the description: no soup, no salad, no bread...*nothing*. You just wait for the food you ordered and hope that it'll be quick. It actually was pretty quick in coming out, but I'm still surprised that there wasn't any bread or anything.
I have to say that the gourmet rice, while it seemed to be microwaved, was actually quite good (at first). It came out hot, and while the mixture does seem a bit strange on paper, it works in reality, especially since there are onions in there that aren't listed on the page. It's pretty good stuff especially while it's hot.
As well, the sauce the lamb was prepared in/with was quite nice. The lamb and its sauce came out very hot (welcome), and the rice, while good on its own, coupled well with the sauce and lamb. If only they weren't screwing around with the lamb in the kitchen. I have every reason to believe that they buy packaged lamb shanks from some purveyor in the area and use the microwave on them after they're taken from the freezer.
My first lamb shank came out and it was the last thing I tried. Good thing, too. While the rice was good and the sauce was good, the first 3-4 bites of lamb I tried were gummy, dry, and in a word: overdone. The consistency it had was that of overcooked lamb, and I had to object on that basis. The other side of the shank had one bite that was acceptable, but the whole thing had just been cooked too long and/or hard, and was just past the point of being enjoyable. They took it back, leaving the rice.
It took quite some time to get my second lamb portion out (with more sauce, which wasn't with the rice), and this one wasn't overcooked...but it was *cold* in the middle. Not lukewarm, but actually cool to the taste and touch. This is what leads me to believe that they're microwaving in the back, there. This, as well, was unacceptable to me. I showed them the issue, and they took that back to the kitchen as well. Understand: at this point, I'm getting a bit nervous about exactly *what* they're going to be doing to my food in the kitchen. Send something back once? I'm not worried. Send something back *twice*? Yeah: that's a bit of a concern for me, and I'm not typically paranoid about such things.
Third time's the charm, right? Actually, yes. I think that the third time was, again, another new lamb shank (though I wasn't parsing it too closely...it could have been my previous shank just warmed up some), and this time, they got it right. The sauce was, again, good, and the lamb was *finally* up to snuff. It certainly wasn't the best lamb I've ever had, but it was good enough to be enjoyable. Of course, by this time, the remaining rice I had was pretty cool, but I wasn't going to complain about that. It wasn't bad, it just wasn't as inviting as it was at the beginning. It did not go uneaten, nor did the final lamb shank. I cleaned my plates.
For $22.50 out the door ($17.99 plus tax and tip), I feel like it should have been better. It's pretty disconcerting when a Mediterranean restaurant has trouble with lamb, and it's kind of sorry that it's pretty apparent that they're buying packaged lamb shanks and can't get them right. No adjustments were made to the bill, no offerings of "Can I bring you something while you wait?" or anything like that. There's a disconnect between what they're trying to be, and what they're actually delivering.
I want to be fair, though: I could go back, but I think I'd definitely want to be with a group where we could order several dishes, try different things, etc. What I ate tonight, when it *finally* was done correctly, was good. It certainly didn't change my life, but I'll admit that the rice actually pleasantly surprised me a bit, even if it was straight out of a microwave.
I'm not mad at all, but I fully admit to being confused and a bit put off. It needs a good deal of work, but there's potential if they can work on getting several things improved. It's honestly difficult to fathom getting lamb here when it's available for *slightly* less money at New Hellas about 1.5 miles away, and they're doing great stuff with their lamb over there.
Needs work, but in the end, I ate, was sated, and can see a glimmer of hope and possibility.
I typically don't order lamb unless it is Lamb Barg. But I do have some advice.
At least from a non Iranian perspective, this is not Mediterranean. You may find some cross over in appetizers and the entire region plus other countries all have a version of yogurt dip (Persian it is called Mast O kiar)the entrees in my experience have little to no similarity to the Lebanese cuisine typically found in Middle Eastern/Mediterranean restaurants here in Michigan. Also it is customary for soups/salads to not be served with mains, although bread is very customary to be delivered to the table prior to apps or mains, so I find the lack of unleavened bread very odd. Also, they used to serve bread without requesting it.
That said if you order lamb it should be cooked properly regardless of the genre of food.
Now to the recommendations:
diced cucumber, onion, and tomato in a citrus vinaigrette sort of dressing. - Sounds simple but is quit good and refreshing.
This is the rice at the bottom of the pot when it is made in a large batch. It forms a crunchy rice about an inch think across the bottom of the pot that is crunchy buttery goodness. Typically you can order it with one of the traditional stews over it or on the side.
Mast O Kiar
Yogurt dip for bread or to be eaten with your protein and rice from your main. Made with thick Mid Eastern yogurt mint and cucumber. I like the Iranian version over Greek, Lebanese, Indian, etc.
Mains (slanted by my own taste for sure)
Start in the Kabob arena
Typically this is a filet mingon cut thinly and skewered on sword width skewers and cooked over a barbecue. The meat is marinated in typical Iranian spices you are not used to, but are very flavorful and less assertive than say Indian seasoning. The meat SHOULD come out fork tender and just about melt when you put it in your mouth. Some more traditional Persian restaurants will offer this with filet of lamb instead of beef. Both are awesome.
Jujeh Kabob and Chicken Barg
The biggest different is Jujeh is typically made with dark and light meat chicken where chicken Barg is all white meat. As far as I can tell the seasoning/marinade is the same though. Similar to Barg and includes saffron so that your chicken arrives with a bright yellow hue. Done properly this will be some of the most tender chicken you will ever encounter. It is typically served with lemon wedges which I do like to use.
Khoresh - Stews (some have meat but typically non meat versions are offered. Same dish minus the protein)
The stews are much more taste subjective to the eater, but I will give you my 2 cents
A green herb and greens stew typically with some few kidney beans and hunks of stewed lamb. By far my #1 favorite stew to be had at a Persian restaurant. As a kid just the color would have scared me off, but don't be put off by the green mush look of the dish, because it is AWESOME.
Tomato based yellow split pea stew, also to be found with a little stewed beef/lamb. In my experience it will also have a few french fried potatoes on top when served. Dried limes or lemons are used in the cooking of the stew that gives it a potent citrus flavor under the tomato and split pea flavors. This one is my second favorite.
A pomegranate and ground walnut stew. It is typically very thick and meat free. It is on the sweet side for a stew. Although it is quite good and it was my "training wheels" Khorest, i grew out of it and graduated to the Ghormeh Sabzi.
All the mains I described are served with a mound (usually LARGE) of Chelow. Chelow is the traditional standard plain rice served with entrees. The rice dish you ordered was a Polow (Rice with other ingredients similar to Biryani in Indian cuisine). Chelow is the rice of the Gods. Properly prepared plenty or clarified butter/Ghee is used in the preparation and this is only after the rice has soaked over night etc. It is hard to properly convey just how different from any other rice preparation and how good all by itself with no other food with it Chelow can be.
Hope this helps a little and I hope the Pars chefs were just off their game and not actually microwaving food. I don't think any Iranian friend I have even use a microwave at all =)
Wow...lots to read/process there, Foog/Aaron. First off: you spell your name incorrectly, just so you know (you'll understand more when we eventually meet...for now, just chuckle at the "joke").
Second, I really do appreciate you taking the time to try to educate me further about Persian food, and what you like/dislike/have grown out of, and what expectations should be. Oddly, the "Mediterranean" descriptor was their own, from their own mouth. It sort of took me aback a bit when they said it, but they meant what they said.
The bread thing really confused me, too, *especially* when you consider the issues I had getting some properly prepared lamb. You'd have thought that, just in terms of helping their situation, that some would have been brought out with some hummus, or garlic sauce, or *whatever* when they had to take back the lamb for re-fire. That nothing was offered in terms of apology was against the grain of the upscale experience they seem to be shooting for. I mean, really: after the first inconvenience, I kind of expected them to provide me with *something*. Nada. Very strange.
I'm sticking by my impression with the microwave. I have no other idea how the inside of a lamb shank could be cold, while the outside was hot. I wouldn't necessarily die on this hill, but would I put money on it? Yep, I would. And yes: it doesn't speak highly of their kitchen if that's the case. Lamb should be done en mass by this kitchen, just like it is at any respectable Greek or Middle Eastern place (though many ME places tend to absolutely cook the *crap* out of lamb).
I'm a bit leery of kidney beans...I just don't care for them in anything. They're not necessarily a deal-breaker, but if they're the central star of any given dish, I can almost guarantee that I'm not interested. When I learned a few years back that proper Texas chili has no kidney beans, I was absolutely *floored*. I thought I hated *all* chili...turns out that's not the case, as Texas chili doesn't have those awful things. So, any Persian dish in which kidney beans are the star of the show will probably be less-than-impressive to me. I'll try just about anything, but expectations have to be tempered with such things. It's hard to like something that you actively know you've never liked before.
They also asked me if I wanted dessert. I inquired about their Persian ice cream. Of course: they were *out* of their Persian ice cream.
I'll stop there. Needless to say, several of us should get together and you should help me figure out this cuisine a bit better, even if it's not at Pars. The lower-end place in Farmington Hills wouldn't be a bad place to start, I would think.
Your description does indeed scream microwave to me as well. As for them describing themselves as "Mediterranean" I chalk that up to assuming the customer base is unfamiliar with Persian cuisine and they are looking for the next closest thing to convey their cuisine. I find this quite common here in Michigan when it comes to "Mexican" food that is so bastardized to Americanize it I don't recognize it. Sure there are some gems out there for the real thing, but the crappy ones out number the authentic ones a lot. Although they carry it on the menu I have never seen hummus eaten in a Persian restaurant. But I also would have expected bread even without an issue in the preparation of your food. Also there are absolutely appetizers they could have offered in recompense. The Mast O Kiar and bread would have kept your mind of waiting for sure. I may have to try Rumi instead of Pars at this point. Even when they first opened they were not as good as most Persian restaurants I have had the chance to try, but in lieu of any options they were good enough.
I only had an issue once with my Kabob Barg where the meat seemed to be a lesser cut than typically used. They remade my dish and it was definitely a new piece of meet, and it was good on the second go around. Another thing from their first stint (I have not been since they reopened (Is it the same owners?)) is the bread would change every time we visited. It was like either they couldn't choose which to serve or they kept changing suppliers.
One thing I did not address that I found odd as well and I did notice this from the previous incarnation of the restaurant, is the congregation of employees at the booth near the kitchen door. They did do this before as well and it is off-putting. My previous experience in Persian restaurants in California was being treated better than average. Hard to explain, but it seemed they were excited to have a non Persian come in and experience what they had to offer. The only exception was a Persian place I found in Toronto with good food treated me like an outsider and service was slow and less attentive than the tables with Iranian customers. Mostly I have experienced the opposite. Most Iranian people I have come across are very excited that I know their cuisine and love it so much.
Prior to and to this day I prepare Persian food at home, because I didn't have anywhere to get it. It comes out passable, but nothing like good restaurant quality.