2 lb. Meatball Mondays: Zare at Fly Trap Beefs Up

Nothing could have prepared me for Meatball Mondays.

Bay Area restaurateur Hoss Zare recently bought the SF classic, Fly Trap Restaurant -- located down in SOMA at 2nd and Folsom -- reopening it recently under his own brand to brisk business (conventioneering gents seem to dominate the weekday landscape) and a fair amount of buzz.

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 works! But nothing could have prepared me for Meatball Mondays.

  • 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.

That said, last Monday my friend Asha and I ordered a lamb shank, a side of (excellent, decadent) saffron risotto, and a (ridiculously tasty) side of pole beans with roasted tomatoes and boutique feta in addition to the meatball.

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?



  1. Well thank god it's Monday then. I am excited to try the Kufteh Tabrizi.

    That vinegar syrup you mentioned is called Sekanjabeen. It's sweet after, but you should smell it when they are making it. I think back to when my mother would make it and the harsh vinegar smell would take over the house. Not my favorite but the end product is what mattered.


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