Queen of Persia
Queen of Persia is a restaurant focused on Persian cuisine like kebab and khoresh that also doubles as an art gallery.
Everything in the restaurant from the embroidered tablecloths to the back-wall arches inspired by the Arch of Ctesiphon from the 3rd to 6th-century pays homage to one of the oldest cultures in the world.
The artwork on the walls is all done by Persian artists and includes mostly mixed media pieces incorporating poems in Farsi, painted flowers and designs with portrait photos.
The art selection, which rotates as often as they're sold, goes for just $1,000 to $1,500 apiece to any interested diner. But even if you're not in the market for a new wall piece for your living room, the stunning artwork makes for great dinner ambiance.
Most of what's on the menu is inspired by old family recipes from chef and owner Lili Khansari's grandmother, who first taught her to cook when she was 17.
Regional food from every corner of Iran is made here and is mostly always extravagantly seasoned with saffron (also known as red gold for being the world's most expensive spice), cardamom, sumac, rose petal or mint.
The warm roasted eggplant dip ($14) with walnuts, garlic, mint and yogurt whey makes for a great vegetarian start to the meal. Sesame-covered Iranian flatbread is served on the side for dipping.
Like anything else you order here, it comes out on a copper dish that was hand-hammered in Iran.
Koobideh Bonab ($21) is one of the kebab dishes. The skewer of Angus minced beef, which is heavy on sumac and turmeric, cooks over an open flame. Koobideh comes from a Persian word that translates to slamming, which is how the meat used to be prepared, on a black flat stone with a mallet.
There are also larger platters for sharing like the two-skewer marlik platter ($59). The Caspian-style chicken and lamb kebabs are sour and aromatic due to the pomegranate and walnut marinade.
There are also plenty of Persian stews. A personal favourite and well-known traditional dish is the jeweled beef stew ($29) with barberries. A side of saffron rice is interspersed with almond, pistachio, and orange for a unique, yet harmonious mix of flavours.
The same sweet and sour tastes that make the marlik platter pop can be found in the fesenjan stew ($25). Cubes of chicken soak in a similar pomegranate reduction with ground walnuts.
If you're looking for something sweet to end the meal, fereni ($8) should be top of mind for anyone who enjoys the subtle taste of rose. Here, the Persian rice custard is topped with pistachio and pashmak (or candy floss).
Homemade baklava ($6.50) is another option that doesn't go overboard on sweetness.
Pair dessert with one of the teas on offer. There's black chai with cardamom, rose petals and cinnamon sticks or saffron chai with a hint of rose water.
Traditional pomegranate and sour cherry drinks ($6) are also available. Plus, find boozy options like saffron and pomegranate and rose water-infused martinis.