• EAT//SIP//SAVOUR | July 2016

Plenty to Love About | THE PERSIAN PLACE! A Dining Review

The Persian Place is everything you can expect from a Middle Eastern restaurant as you are warmly greeted and shown to your table. Located on the corner of Bolton and King streets and owned by Babak Abbaszadeh and his wife, The Persian Place sits proudly as the only Persian or Middle Eastern cafe or restaurant in Newcastle.

The space is warm and loaded with atmosphere, gold-stitched tablecloths, intricate paintings, cushions galore and Persian rugs covering every inch of floor-space and of course pleasant sweet aromas of Persian cuisine.

Diners can choose from the Sharing Mazzeh menu with a choice of large and small dishes or the Sharing Banquet menu, which is perfect for larger groups and very reasonable at $38 per person. As with all Mazzeh style dining, the dishes are designed to be shared and eaten slowly to stimulate conversation. This is true Middle Eastern style dining!

The menu is full of delicious earthy and classic Iranian flavours, with herbs, rich meats and sauces, vegetables such as eggplant and potatoes and a definite presence of saffron throughout. There is something for everyone and ideal for people who have dietary requirements with the menu being almost entirely gluten free.

Being a group of seven, we chose from the banquet menu which allowed us to mix and match our dishes to form our own banquet.

When it came to the wine menu, it was pleasing to see that the focus is on local producers with an excellent selection of Hunter Valley wines including those from Newcastle’s own Innercity Winemakers.

Taas Kebab comes out first. These are minced lamb patties served with chat potatoes and cherry tomatoes braised in a herb sauce. This is a delicious dish with all flavours working well together and a perfect start to the meal. This is closely followed by the Baal Anari, which are spiced chicken wings with house-made tomato and pomegranate glaze. This was a truly delicious dish that left us all licking our fingers and wanting more.

For our next two courses, we decide on the menu favourites Goat Kofteh and Meygoo. Both dishes arrive at the same time and are wonderfully presented. The Goat Kofteh or goat meatballs are served with baby carrot ragout and saffron rice. Unlike many other meat dishes, this dish has a truly distinct flavour – which is not as strong as lamb, but still juicy and succulent with a delicious sauce and served in a big earthenware bowl. This dish got a big thumbs up from us all.

The Meygoo was equally as impressive and consisted of fried prawns in tamarind – chilli sauce with saffron cauliflower and a presence of garlic. These were big generously sized prawns and just delicious with a hint of smokiness that was perfectly offset by the tangy tamarind sauce. There's a hint of chilli, plenty of onion and the parsley added a lovely freshness to the meal.

As Babak will explain, Persian food is all about the spice – not necessarily the hot variety, but instead the aromatic type with a long list subtly flavouring each dish.

Of course, no Persian meal would be complete without a Persian tea or coffee, and here the authentic Persian coffee has a flavour not to be missed.

There is plenty to like about The Persian Place. The dishes are sizeable and well matched for those with relatively healthy appetites. This is a great place to bring a group and enjoy a banquet, a romantic dinner for two or avoid the cold with a mid-week winter warmer.

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