Kid Hit Menu Items: Heaping mounds of rice at Shiraz Restaurant in Glendale come in all manners of traditional Persian preparations and forms, from plain saffron to baghali polo. The latter can be a clever sneaky delivery system for lima beans and fresh dill. Surprisingly enough the sour cherry loaded albaloo polo didn’t play too well with our crowd; I actually can’t blame them for rejecting the borderline cloying pilaf (future note to self: get the more sour zereshk polo). When the 5 year-old chomped on snappy sheets of tahdig ($7.95) topped with rich and slightly tart gormeh sabzeh herb stew with kidney beans, I couldn’t help but beam. When all is said and done, rice and kebabs are always a good bet, right? Desserts are chocolate-coated ice cream bombs and chocolate/raspberry combos and crème caramels and other items that aren’t exactly specific to the Persian culinary heritage, along with faloodeh and rosewater ice cream.
Adult Perks: This restaurant might be called Shiraz, but oddly enough it doesn’t carry wine from its namesake region in Iran. The response to “do you have a wine list?” “Cab or chardonnay.” Hmm, ok. Doesn’t inspire much confidence in Shiraz’s wine program. That’s fine. Hey, like lamb? Boy do they have dishes for you: charbroiled shanks, chops, skewered tenders. Same goes for beef and chicken, plus a few fishes choices such as trout, or salmon, shrimp and mahi mahi kabobs. We passed around and devoured mounds of juicy koobideh ground chicken and broiled dark meat boneless chicken kabob — and still wound up with ample leftovers. Or go meatless with the aforementioned gormeh sabzi, which can be done without lamb, or other stews including walnut and pomegranate fessenjan stew (with or without chicken). Vegetarians will fare just fine.
Pros: Because Shiraz functions as a banquet hall, its infrastructure is suited for big groups of all ages. The window-less room has tables of various sizes and configurations. The heavily patterned carpet disguises dropped food. (But that’s no excuse to ignore your mess, obviously.) The kids got to do their interpretive dances while a musician put his own spin on “The Sounds of Silence” and other classics on his sweet dual keyboard set up. The patio must be pleasant in the summer but is equipped with heat lamps for all seasons. Swank décor touches, such as the murals and a Beethoven bust proudly sitting on a shelf, are awesome. Weekday lunch specials are under ten bucks (hear that, Midtown Lunch L.A.?).
Cons: While efficient, the staff seemed to be a bit harried. Belly dancing performances on weekend nights might not be everyone’s idea of suitable family entertainment. Kebabs came not with grilled onion or zucchini, but with only grilled green peppers — i.e. the only vegetable I don’t like.
Changing Station: Forgot to check!
High Chairs: Yes
Parking and Access: A few spaces in front, and a parking lot in the alley accessed via Harvard.
Other Tidbits: Thanks to the cultural mashup of the Armenian diaspora, Shiraz initially bills itself as a Middle Eastern restaurant located in Glendale, but the menu is familiar to regulars and fans of Persian restaurants in Westwood. Which isn’t to suggest they deny the Persian component. Anyway, I was hoping Shiraz would be, say, HALF as good as Javan, eliminating the need to schlep to West L.A. to grub Persian food. WRONG. It’s basically just AS GOOD. Even if Javan’s bademjan eggplant appetizer dip with those killer crispy shallots and creamier texture has an edge over Shiraz’s version, that doesn’t merit driving an additional 15+ miles. Other bonuses: beloved Jewel City Bowl is located on the same block, Shiraz is open on holidays, caters and delivers within a four-mile radius. SOLD. Plus there’s a Sherman Oaks location.
211 S. Glendale Ave., Glendale
15472 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks
Cuisine: Persian/Middle Eastern
Hours: Sunday – Thursday, 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.; Friday & Saturday, 11 a.m. – midnight.