It is a funny thing about Persian restaurants where every one of them pushes the exact same menu, even though their homeland boasts a rich and expansive cuisine. Having always lived within walking distance from N.D.G.'s longstanding Tehran – the city's emblem of Iranian food – I rarely veer off my safe path and try someplace else.
However, an Iranian acquaintance of mine recently mentioned Khorasan Kabab – also in N.D.G. – as a favorite of hers. In reality, I had already tried this spot a while back, at its previous location a couple blocks down Sherbrooke Street West. Without remembering much from that visit, I thought a refresher was called for.
Open since 2009, the Afghan-owned eatery is named after the historical Khorasan region spanning portions of present-day Iran and Afghanistan. Translated as "land of the rising sun", Khorasan's menu follows the template of Persian eateries with an emphasis on skewered meats served with mounds of saffron rice.
A dip consisting of grilled eggplant mashed with tomatoes had the desired smoky/garlicky flavour but was a little too smooth for my taste.
A basic but very bright and refreshing salad consisted of finely-chopped cucumbers, tomatoes and onions dressed with lemon juice and olive oil.
Two skewers of ground beef were well seasoned and full of charcoal flavour, although the meat was dry inside. A squirt of the accompanying lemon wedge added some zip and welcome moisture.
A similar dish to the latter, except the kebab is replaced with chicken, this time a little juicier. A blackened tomato is a nice addition, exploding with juices over the fluffy white and yellow basmati rice.
The highlight of the night came in the form of tender, marinated beef cubes grilled to perfection, and served with sweet, charred bell peppers and onions.
With restaurants not allowed to fully re-open until January, industry people are still feeling a squeeze. I could sense Khorasan's owner's appreciation – bordering on exuberance – when I came to pick up my large-ish order. After all, foregoing delivery services and their commissions translates to higher profit margins for restaurants.
While Khorasan's food scored points for taste, it did lose a couple for execution and texture. Yet, its greatest asset may be generosity: orders comprise a basket of pita bread accompanied by sliced onions, butter and sumac, while main dishes include a choice of iceberg salad or ash soup – which was excellent.
Ultimately, this Persian eatery does not meet the standard set by Tehran, but it does hold its own as a neighborhood standby.
tagged: PLAN B.
Price per person: $16.66
Montreal restaurant and bar reviews brought to you by two regular guys who like to eat and drink. We will go anywhere and we will say it like it is.