After scooting SF classics like Celery Victor off the menu (a questionable move but Celery Victor is a questionable dish), Zare has retained the Fly Trap's three-martini charm while producing a menu of California standards (pedestrian beet salad, exceptional lamb shank) made much more interesting by authentic Persian preparations and ingredients.
- It's a 2 lb. meatball.
- It gets stuffed with anything from rack of lamb to roasted quail.
- It's the size of a freaking grapefruit.
- It invariably sells out, because meatballs are irresistible, even on Mondays.
- It is delicious.
Straight out of Zare's mom's kitchen in Tabrizi, the second largest city in Iran, the Kufteh Tabrizi is comprised of more Niman Ranch beef and veal than should be legal, stuffed each week with a different meaty treat. The flavor is unique, fueled by saffron, savory, and two handfuls' worth of herbs, spices, and dried fruits.
It's one crazy meatball. And more than enough for two.
This was silly, silly behavior in hindsight (way too much food), but we couldn't have imagined the size of the meatball! It was inconceivable!
(And the lamb shank, in a light jus flavored with dried Persian lime, was actually exemplary, so it wasn't such a bad move, after all.)
Thankfully, bar director Reza Esmaili's truly inspired cocktails had put us in the mood for anything, and a couple of glasses of Lebanon's esteemed Chateau Musar, one of the most elegant and extra-special red wines of all time, didn't hurt.
Which cocktail made an impression? Oh, only the best cocktail I have had in recent times, The Minted Memory: Bombay Sapphire Gin, Pimm's No. 1 (two great tastes that go great together), cucumber, mint, and minted vinegar syrup over ice. It's like a Pimm's Cup on CRACK. We would have spent the whole evening drinking these things if it weren't for the sanctity of red meat and red wine.
Esmaili, who also hoots up the cocktails over at Conduit on Valencia, noted that the tangy, unique flavor and smell of minted red wine vinegar syrup is something instantly recognizable to any Iranian.
In Iran, apparently, it's not only a popular summer beverage flavoring but also a dressing/dip for early evening shredded lettuce crudites on hot summer days. The idea is that you're supposed to double dip your shredded lettuce snack in the cold, minted vinegar syrup; thus, it's a dish reserved for family and close friends only.
Who's in your double-dipping posse?