There is a dinner table scene in the old cult movie, “Breaking Away” that I just love and think about when someone is afraid to try a new or foreign food.
Dad: What is this?
Mom: It’s sautéed zucchini
Dad: I don’t want to I-tey food.
Mom: It’s not. I got it at the A&P. It’s like …squash.
Dad: No I know I-tey food when hear it! It’s all them “eenie” foods — zucchini, and linguine, and fettuccine. I want some American food. I want French fries!
So if you are not afraid of “eenie” foods, you just might love COLBEH, the new Persian Kitchen and Bar on theDecatur square, next door to Brick Store Pub (www.ColbehKitchen.com). No, it’s not Italian, but it is definitely not French fries.
I fell in love with the comfortable décor, the fresh and bold tastes, and the friendly owners and staff. Owner, Syrus Rahimi, along with his two sons and wife have created a very welcoming ambience. He says he wanted to keep the food authentic so he hired seasoned Persian cooks. The menu is very well rounded and easy to understand — but the choosing is hard with so many tempting selections. I thought the food tasted impeccably fresh, nicely seasoned, was expertly cooked, and beautifully presented. There is nothing pretentious or scary at COLBEH- it’s is comfortable and good. The wine list is nicely sourced, with selections that enhance the flavors in the foods. The restaurant seems very well run and attests to the owners experience in the food service industry.
The first thing that arrives at the table is a basket of warm and puffy homemade flat bread and a plate with butter, chunks of feta cheese, radishes, and a tangle of fresh herbs. Pull pieces of the bread apart and stuff it with some of the cheese and herbs along with tastes of your appetizer or entrée. We started one of our visits with the “Triple Dipper” which is a choice of three of the starters served with more of that wonderful bread. Of the four apps I tried so far, my favorite starter is the “kashk badenjan” – a sautéed and pureed eggplant dip. I’ve enjoyed the shrimp and chicken kabobs — tender and nicely grilled — but I am in love with the lamb kabob. The lamb is flavorfully marinated and the tender meat is grilled to perfection. Half skewers allow you to mix and match to create a kabob platter to your liking. Add some basmati and you have a great meal.
The menu is nicely curated. There is a choice or two soups or two salads to whet your appetite. Pair one of the five different rice dishes with one of the half kabobs to design your own meal. Or you can choose one of the creative entree preparations of poultry, beef, lamb, and seafood. Most of the meat choices are charbroiled with a few being slow cooked. The “Persian Stews” are the comfort food I’m talking about – three varieties to try (and I did) – the combination platter allowed me small bowls of each. The “Ghormeh Sabzi” was a rich amalgamation of herbs, sirloin tips, lemon, beans, and seasoning – and might be my favorite – today anyway. I didn’t get to dessert at either visit. But I am willing to go back and try again.