For us, the idea of driving for a great meal is a pleasure, not a chore. And when an Armenian friend Lilian nominated the Persian restaurant Farsi in Ryde as her favourite restaurant as the two countries share a similar cuisine, it was put on the list. If only someone has remembered to book it...
Usually the job of booking a restaurant falls to me. If the restaurant has an online booking system all the better. But on Saturday afternoon when we were in the middle of running errands I suddenly realised something. "Oh no! I think I forgot to book the restaurant tonight!" I rang them and checked if we had a booking. We didn't and the only space that they had free was at 5:30pm. And we had to be out by 6:45pm as the next booking for that table was 7:30pm.
"5:30pm?" Mr NQN said slightly grimacing. Thankfully where he has misgivings, Miss America was more agreeable and the early hour wasn't an issue. We take the drive there stopping by to pick up Miss America on the way. And the smell when we get to Farsi is promising. There is one family table eating at this early hour along with us. The musicians are busy setting up for the night and we take a seat at a table. On the walls are black and white photos of Iran taken in the 1940's. The one that catches my eye is of two young girls peering into a metal machine. At the other end of the peephole plays a movie.
The doog drink is a salty fermented yogurt drink. Previously we've had it less fermented than this. The fermentation gives it a beery quality. I have to admit that I prefer it less fermented.
A complimentary plate of cheese balls mixed with herbs and walnuts and fresh bread arrives at the table. The herb flecked cheese is wonderfully tasty spread on the soft bread. All I can do now though is watch the time. Service is sweet and friendly and we get our order in quickly. And if there any gluten free eaters, most of the menu is gluten free and clearly marked.
Because we have such a thick stack of bread we decide to go for a couple of dips. I love the aroma and garlicky flavour of the kashke bademjan with golden fried eggplant, garlic, tangy whey and mint.
Similarly delicious but sweeter is the dip made with tomato and golden fried eggplant and onion. This has a slightly stronger and sweeter flavour than the first dip.
We are lucky that they gave us a table for 6 because we had over ordered but it was very hard to narrow down our selection. They did offer us a set menu for $45 a person but we liked the look of some of the dishes that weren't on the set menu. The Gheymeh Polo is made up of soft diced lamb and yellow split peas served in a tomato based sauce flavoured with halved dried lime. The key to Persian cuisine is their affinity for mildly sour flavours from ingredients like sour grapes, dried limes or barberries.
This is a healthy looking combination of lamb, herbs, dried lime, red beans and rice. This also comes with rice and the herbs give it a slightly medicinal quality to it.
There were two items recommended to me by Lilian: the Koobideh Kebab (lamb mince) and the Barg Kebab (lamb backstrap). They both feature on the Farsi plate along with Joje Kebab (chicken leg). The koobideh lamb mince kebab in particular is wonderful and I can't stop going back for more. This was supposed to come with salad but didn't and we didn't notice that it hadn't come with it. The meats would have been great wrapped up in the bread with salad.
I think this ended up being everyone's favourite dish, not just because it looked absolutely glistening and gorgeous but because the slow cooked chicken was so tender and it was paired with barberry and saffron rice. The chicken falls off the bone and it also comes with a tomato based sauce with carrots to sweeten it that you spoon onto the rice separately.
There are just two items on the dessert menu: Persian ice cream and baklava but as it is 6:45pm we vacate the table (although they hadn't prompted us to do so). We go a few doors up to a Persian food store called Bahar Persian Food and Art where there is a treasure trove of goodies.
I have never seen so many items that I wasn't sure what to do with! There are items like musk root, sour grapes, ground dried limes, distilled bottled herbs, breads and sweets. Purchases are made and before we know it, we're headed back home. And it is only 7:30pm! And just secretly, I kind of loved that we were done and dusted early on a Saturday night for once! ;)
So tell me Dear Reader, do you usually book the restaurant? Have you ever forgotten to do so? Would you eat at 5:30pm? What time do you usually finish up on a Saturday night?
This meal was independently paid for
20A Church St, Ryde NSW 2112, Australia
Phone:+61 2 8095 0039
Sunday to Saturday 12:30–3:30PM, 5:30–9:30PM