Sunday, October 23, 2011
1814 Peachtree St. Atlanta, GA www.sufisatlanta.com
On Thursday night Kevin and I had dinner at Sufi's, located on Peachtree right beside previously reviewed R. Thomas deluxe grill.
You'll begin your meal with traditional Persian bread (sort of a thicker, less butter, rectangular version of Indian naan), with a plate of various side items like sliced radishes, fresh mint and basil, good quality, firm feta, and olives. The restaurant is dimly lit, so be sure not to mistake the large pat of butter with feta. I've done this on both trips to Sufi's, and it's an unpleasant experience. I'm not even sure why they include butter - the bread doesn't need it, especially if you order one of the yogurts as an appetizer. The yogurts ($6 each) come with either grated cooked beets, shallots, spinach, or Kevin's favorite, cucumber and herbs. It's a nice way to lighten up your bread and prepare you for your entree.
We also had an order of dolmeh, grape leaves stuff with rice, ground beef, chives, tarragon, parsley, cilantro and raisins ($8). Not the best dolmeh I've ever had, but still at least average. It contained too much of something bitter . . . maybe tarragon?
I chose one of the specialty dishes, Zereshk polo with chicken ($18). You'll see in the pic that it comes with the usual big portion of saffron basmati rice, but in this case it's mixed with barberries and more saffron, almonds and pistachios. If you've never tried barberries, the flavor is very similar to cranberries. While I like cranberries, this is what throws me off about the dish. The tender chicken is very good, but it's overwhelmed by the tartness of the berries. Even the extra dose of saffron doesn't save it. I'd give this dish about a 7 of 10.
Kevin got another speciality dish, the ghemeh badenjoon ($16), which is chunks of lean beef in tomato sauce, split peas, sauteed eggplant and onions, on saffron basmati rice of course. This is a similar concept to the Turkish Iskender kabob, with a couple more vegetables. It's a pretty heavy dish, a good choice during cold weather.
This was our second dinner at Sufi's. When Kevin and I ate here before I had the koobideh kabob, which is 2 beef kabob skewers alongside a large plate of rice. The beef is quite good, but not as rich and flavorful as that of previously reviewed Darvish in Roswell. However, you have to weigh this against the slow-as-molasses service you'll probably get at Darvish. If your goal is to eat the best kabobs in Atlanta, trek out to Darvish and plan to stay a few hours. If you want 2nd best kabobs (which is still pretty good) and faster service, try Sufi's.
Vegetarians can select from a variety of meatless rice dishes, ranging from sweet (black cherry) to nutty to substantial (dill and protein-packed fava beans). Rice dishes are only $6, and between that and the free bread you should have a fine meal.
Nice atmosphere. Lovely copper-hued walls, burgundy fabric-covered booths, and small pillows, but no flat platforms for seating or huge rugs hanging from the ceilings. If you think Darvish is "overdone" in terms of decor, you'll enjoy Sufi's elegance.
Prices listed above are on par with other Persian restaurants in the metro area. Persian dining isn't ever the cheapest available option around, but this type of food has a personality all it's own that shouldn't be missed.
Verdict: Good stuff. I plan to make it a semi-regular dinner choice.