'Persian' on Serious Eats

Date Night: Pars Grill House

Pars tends to play it safe. There's an in-house belly dancer named Valeri, according to the website, but she only comes out on Saturdays. The menu offers a strong selection of proteins, but mostly in the form of kebabs. Some boldness appears in the decor, via white-washed walls adorned with sparkly vests and caps, lamps bedecked in intricate beadwork, and a long bench covered in woven cloth. Perhaps keeping it mild is a political strategy as much as a culinary one here. More

Kids Welcome: Persepolis

It's hard to convince anyone to go to the Upper East Side for a meal; the argument has to be compelling, as there's probably not much food there that you can't get elsewhere at an equivalent or better level. It happens, however, that the Upper East Side is home to some of the best Persian restaurants in Manhattan. On a Saturday night when we fancied a taste of Iran, we trekked across town to Persepolis on Second Avenue, and we were glad we did. More

Spice Hunting: Rose Water

Rose water is as likely to be found in Grandma's perfume as in our food. It's an old-fashioned flavor, looking backward rather than forward. But there's something about its ancient caché when treated right, there's nothing like it. Rose water's best uses are also its oldest: pastries, creamy desserts, spicing for nuts, and accents on braised dishes. More

The Vegetarian Option: Persepolis

I was excited to find that out in the East 70s is a small hotspot of Persian cuisine. A little calculated digging led me to Persepolis, one of the most popular of the Persian restaurants in the area, which also offers a decent vegetarian selection. Persian cuisine may not be that easy to come by, but as a huge fan of Middle Eastern food I had a very good feeling about it. More

Spice Hunting: Anardana, Dried Pomegranate Seeds

Pomegranates are expensive. Their nectar stains like beet juice. And if you're successfully able to crack one open and extricate the seeds without having them burst all over your shirt, you still run the risk of your fruit having gone off, as checking for over-ripeness is rather difficult. So even during pomegranate season I like to have anardana—dried pomegranate seeds—around. More

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