I arrived a little before my party at this Center Street eatery on the north side of the China Town bridge. I was immediately attended to and offered a large spacious booth adjacent to a pretty water fountain. The calming sound of falling water combined with the light ambient eastern music set a very relaxing, upscale mood. As I waited for my tardy party to arrive, I perused the dishes on offer which varied from the classic Persian kabobs to unique traditional Persian dishes I had not sampled before.
The space is tastefully decorated, with walls adorned with Persian artifacts and art. The classy black tables down the middle flanked by diner style booths give the place a character that would satisfy all walks.
We ordered the appetizer platter consisting of Kashk-e-bademjan, Mast-o-Khiar, Salad-e-Olivieh, and Dolmeh. The entire platter was accompanied by bite sized pieces of pita bread. The favourites were the Dolmeh and Kashk-e-bademjan.
The Dolmeh – a rice stuffed vine leaf, garnished with olive oil, mint and spices – is exquisite. Eaten in a single a bite, it releases a cacophony of flavours. The kashk-e-bademjan is one of the better eggplant dips I’ve ever had. The sweetness of the eggplant, caramelized onions and a hint of garlic ensure this dish is never left over. Every last bit was scooped up by the pita.
Our main courses consisted of Koobideh Kabob, Lamb Shank and Pomegranate Walnut Stew. All the courses were served with either saffron rice or dill and fava bean rice.
The Koobideh Kabob was also accompanied by some grilled tomato and onion. This skewered ground beef delicacy was tender and savoury and highlighted further by a light sprinkling of sumac (adds a lemony taste). Unfortunately, the flavours were too mild and didn’t leave a lasting impression.
The Lamb Shank was accompanied by the dill and fava been infused rice. The meat was tender, moist and fell away easily from the bone. The entire shank was served in a tomato based stew. It is a hearty and flavourful dish which leaves one yearning for another bite. It is well accompanied by the dill rice.
The Pomegranate Walnut Stew is a chicken dish. The ground walnuts release a fair bit of natural oil in a thirteen hour cooking process, which creates an oil slick over the entire dish. The chicken is so tender it literally falls apart with the nudge of a fork. The ingredients create a unique taste as the sweet and texture filled sensations intrigue and delight the taste buds. This dish is something else. I’ve never had anything quite like it, but I will come back for it.
The saffron rice that accompanied the majority of our dishes was disappointing. It is well cooked and presented, but the only hint of saffron is in the yellow tint of the rice. The large quantity served seems to compromise the saffron flavours and scents.
We ordered saffron ice cream, baklava and cardamom tea for dessert.
The pistachio infused ice cream, considered “One of the best 25 things to eat in Calgary”, is worthy of its claim to fame!
The sweet and nutty baklava, taken with the unsweetened cardamom tea, is also a fitting end to a very wholesome and flavourful meal.
The chef-owner of Shiraz regularly visits his patrons and shares his experiences. Strike up a conversation if you have time, he definitely has some interesting anecdotes.
Shiraz is one of the few halal places in Calgary that offers quality of service and ambience comparable to fine dining. It is a pleasure to dine here and the food will most likely have you coming back.