Combo for three $28.99
Koobideh kebab plate $9
Lamb shank plate $9
Chicken kebab plate $9
Pastries $9 per pound
While awaiting the arrival of our entrées, slurping up the last thick sips of parsley-flecked beef soup and sandwiching the crudité medley of nuts, herbs, onion and feta between chewy folds of flatbread, a thought emerged at our sated table: Lazziz Persian restaurant has quietly thrown down the gauntlet for cheap eats — at least in terms of quantity. Surely, no restaurant in town delivers more food for your buck than the sparsely adorned but comfortable dining room and grocery store, which opened last July in the former location of Aurora Bakery.
In our experiences at lunch, the communication barrier was as thick as the tomato-tinged barley soup textured with sprouted grains and pureed carrots — though friendly and hospitable service was worth a thousand words. So in case your Farsi language skills are limited, here's what you might expect at Lazziz, which owner Masoud Zand describes as the only Persian restaurant in town owned by Persians:
In some order, a basket of bread and a plate of walnuts, sheep's milk cheese, radishes, lemons, pink onions and flat-leaf and frilly parsley will arrive at the table. You will be asked if you prefer meat or barley soup, and you'll select an entrée from the succinct roster of Iranian delights including ghormeh sabzi (vegetable-veal stew with kidney beans and dried limes) and barg kebabs (grilled tenderloin strips).
No matter which soup you select, you will be satisfied — possibly even full to the gills — and you might catch yourself making a mental list of adventurous diners who would deserve and enjoy the clamshell of leftovers you will invariably tote out of Lazziz.
An appetizer of kashk bademjan was an intensely flavored version of the molten eggplant spread, drizzled with olive oil and yogurt and adorned with scoops of dried minced mint, which became brown and crisp as the dish was finished in the oven.
Eggplant-and-beef stew in tomato sauce with lentils was a hearty wintry entrée, garnished with two ribbons of roasted eggplant criss-crossed over the top and served with a generous bed of basmati rice.
When we visited on a Thursday, our server strongly recommended the Friday special of baghali polo, a monstrous plate of dill-flecked basmati rice studded with mashed lima beans. Under the mound of saffron-yellow and white grains lurked a lamb shank, whose juicy meat (which tasted of game) pulled easily off the bone.
If you're looking for fesenjan, schedule your trip for Wednesday, when the traditional Persian stew made with pomegranates and ground walnuts is available.
Beef koobideh — minced halal meat formed into ropelike sausages — arrived elegantly, encircling a sunny mound of saffron rice topped with a single roasted tomato. Absent from this vibrant red-and-yellow still life was a sauce to help marry the components. When we asked our server, she offered the unexpected choice between yogurt-cucumber sauce and ranch dressing. We opted for the yogurt flecked with dried mint, which provided a cool and creamy foil to the warm beef and rice.
While much of the menu's language was exotic and bewildering, simple, well-executed food is a universal language, and the young diner at our table devoured plump grilled chicken kebabs as readily as if they were chicken fingers.
The shirazi salad — chopped tomatoes, scallions and cucumbers tossed with lemon juice and dried mint — contributed a brightness to the rice-and-meat combos. When we did not order it on a subsequent visit, we missed the sprightly zip it added to the meat-heavy dishes.
Dessert is a good excuse to stand up from the table and explore the adjacent grocery store, where Zand and his family keep a pastry case stocked with a limited selection of European-influenced confections, including rollettes — rolled sponge cake filled with whipped cream — and pistachio-dusted papillons (puff pastry folded to resemble butterflies). If you can possibly eat another bite after the expansive meal, consider ordering a glass of hot tea, which arrives with a bowl of rustic sugar cubes.
While you're browsing the grocery store, which Zand and his family also own and operate, stroll the aisles for a selection of spices, dried goods, imported candies and other sundry items, such as cold wax hair remover (which shares a shelf with canned green beans). Perhaps the best find on the premises is the can of French sheep's-milk cheese packed in water. Stored in the refrigerator, the cheese is the same product that goes so well with the fresh herbs and walnuts on the opening plate next door.
The grocery also stocks rounds of stretchy oven-pocked flatbread coated with sesame seeds, made by a nearby bakery and delivered to the store twice daily. While the bread was overly tough when it arrived in the breadbaskets on the restaurant table, the round slabs made low-maintenance pizza crusts when we took them home and layered them with tomato sauce, French feta and other toppings. At $2.99 for four large rounds, the flatbread, like the rest of Lazziz's menu, is unusually economical and a welcome break from the ordinary.
Lazziz serves lunch and dinner daily. Free delivery is available from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Lazziz does not serve alcohol.
Condolences. The bums lost. My advice is to do what your parents did; get a…
To Chris's point, $1 on a $15 tab is 7%. That is not insignificant.
1. Lockeland Table
4. Kien Giang
5. Jim & Nick's
Come down and see us Nashville. We have a real cool summer treat for you.